yesterday seemed to = summer, so a quick trip to ride somewhere different and new seemed in order…or at least it did on friday afternoon after an aborted road ride due to tyres popping off rims.
wayne said he was up for it so i spent a nice hour or so on friday evening crawling over OS maps laid out on the living room floor, surrounded by lakeland route guides ripped from various mtb magazines (thanks to matt for giving them to me), working out what would be fun without being too taxing.
I settled on a short route from keswick round lonscale fell – along the ace singletrack that clings to the side of the fell which meant we could also nip over to whinlatter and test out the new altura trail up there.
Sunday morning arrived looking rather dull and cloudy, but full of hope we shot off up the quiet motorway and got to keswick in about an hour and a half to find it bathed in sunshine…and full of tourists.
After a good few minutes doing laps of the town to find somwhere to park wayne spotted a gap in the double yellow lines big enough to fit the berlingo in and we were away!
A nice warm up to the ride along the route of the old keswick railway got us clear of the rambling hordes and the dappled sunlight and glinting rivers set the laid back tone for the day, before giving way to a tarmac climb out from civilisation and into the hills proper.
A few becks to ford on the well surfaced path round blease fell provided opportunity to “accidentally” mess up riding through and stick feet into the cool flowing water and pose for photographs before rounding the head of the valley and (after a little more climbing and sweating) and heading back on the opposing valley wall.
Serious at all times
Neither of us had ridden the path before, despite it being possibly one of the most photographed and talked about stretches of singletrack in the lakes, I’m glad we finally got round to it though, it was great fun. Neither of us actually cleaned it, but decided that it was totally rideable and vowed to try again sometime.
wayne enjoys the summer
After a slight, erm, ‘navigational issue’ on my part we dropped down the final descent into keswick from mallen dodd and latrigg, swooping round the corners, skipping off the gently sloping drainage channels and generally messing about like you’re supposed to do on a warm summers afternoon, arriving back in keswick with huge grins and surprisingly mud splattered bikes.
We loaded up the berlingo again and drove the short distance up to whinlatter visitor centre to find the newly built trail (lazy i know). wayne hired himself a bike as his BB was playing up and we headed off once again to see how the man made singletrack compared to ‘natures’ finest.
TBH i was slightly under whelmed at first. The still-damp track through the trees was greasier than a very greasy thing..not in an “ooh this is exciting and tricky to control” kind of way either, more a “oh this is just annoying now” sort of affair. I’ve no doubt that with a few laps and some very low pressures in your tyres it’d be all rideable, but i imagine most people would turn up, ride it once, get annoyed and find somewhere else to go instead. Oh and it was (as most trail centres are) shockingly generic, I went from being sure i was at coed y brenin at one point to being sure i was at glentress a few minutes later!
Despite it being pretty much brand new several sections of the track were looking quite cut up and rutted, I think it’ll need quite a lot of looking after come the winter – the ruts weren’t of the “natural line appearing” sort, they were definitely “big hole round the bermed corner” sort.
That’s not to say it wasn’t fun – there were a few nice swoopy sections with well placed berms that kept your speed through the trees fast enough to make you focus pretty hard and some very nice contouring trails – where riding smoothly and pumping the trail to keep your momentum was all important.
The trail finished on a high too; the final descent, out in the open with great views across the valley was grippy enough to allow you to push hard, with nicely placed “mini-bus-stops” to either jump or coast round, a few smaller lumps to either jump or (in my case) sort of awkwardly pump through and some great bermed corners – steeper than most they meant scrubbing off a bit of speed, dropping the front end further down into the middle of the corner than normal (take care not to get distracted by the view) and letting the rear end get caught as you twist round would fire you back out onto another section of swoopy, contouring singletrack.
We finished the trail, both gobsmacked by the speed of a small child hurtling down the final descent and nipped up the cafe to refuel.
Shockingly they didn’t seem to serve beer, which simply wasn’t acceptable so we ducked out of the queue, rolled the car down the road and stopped at a nice pub at the bottom of the hill to end the day with a nice pint…as is the custom on lazy summer afternoons after a nice few hours on the trails
wayne took a couple of pics, so i’m waiting for him to upload them, then this post will look slightly nicer