Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Lakes MTB: A Grind Around Grizedale and Some Pass Bashing (Got Bashed)

Grizedale Grinder

It would be rude to go to the Lakes and not take in a bit of the fantastic biking to be had in the region. Spending a bit of quality mini-moon time with The Wife (need to get used to saying that!) meant heading over to Grizedale for a potter around the fire-roads with the odd excursion onto the red trail singletracks.

Of the bits that we did there was nothing massively challenging although Louise was surprised by a step down in the boardwalk at one point causing her to utter a naughty word before falling, very gracefully, into a tree. A slightly scraped arm was the only damage.

Tis but a scratch!

They'd been doing some logging so we did get some nice views down across Coniston Water and up to Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag allowing us to trace the route of a walk we did a few winters ago over Wetherlam way.

View good. Malt loaf also good.
We were startled at this point by what looked like a bloody big hornet, causing us to head off in short order. Later research led us to finding out it was in fact a Great Wood Wasp and is in fact entirely harmless. Phew!

The threat of rain meant we headed back early instead of exploring some of the sculpture trails in the area. I think I prefer the Blue single track at Whinlatter, the fire roads are a bit boring to be honest even though the views are much better.

Pass Bashing (Got Bashed)

Last day of the holiday and Louise wanted to see the Beatrix Potter house in Near Sawrey and to catch up with a family friend. I'm not National Trust Man yet as my beige elasticated waist corduroy trousers haven't arrived from my tailors (soon, soon) so sooner than part from the mountains my love, I went for a bike ride instead.

A short sharp rocky climb on tired legs out of Ambleside up to the top of Jenkin Crag was rewarded with some pleasant views over Windermere and Bowness.

View from Jenkin Crag
The track contoured around the hillside, maintaining the view over Windermere until I dropped sharply into Troutbeck village down a slightly rocky but fun bridleway. A short road section led to the bottom of Dubbs Road and the long steady climb up Garburn Pass.

Garburn Road Climb
This got steeper and looser the nearer I got to the top, requiring the odd pause for lungs and legs to recover, before it finally flattened out. Food stop!

Top of Garburn Pass. The joys of the descent were to follow!
The descent from here was brutal. Despite dropping the seat to its minimum height and hanging my arse off the back of the bike I struggled to keep the bike pointing in the direction I wanted to go. A bike with a slacker head angle, better suspension and wider bars would have made life easier. So would being a bit stronger in the upper body, too much champagne and fine dining this week obviously. I now know how the ball in a pinball machine feels!

Down into Kentmere and then out again on High Lane heading for the next pass and the descent to Sadgill in Longsleddale. Another rocky climb but not quite as steep which was good as my legs were beginning to struggle. The descent wasn't as rocky as Garburn but made up for it in steepness. More hanging the arse off the back of the bike to remain in some semblance of control.

The exploratory climb up Gatesgarth Pass was too much to hope for as far as my legs were concerned so I bailed just at the start of the steep bit and turned around.

Don't be sad, Sadgill. you are lovely.
Time was running low, I was hungry and my freewheel had started making a clunk every revolution. Time to head back down Longsleddale to Staveley for a well deserved feed at the lovely Wilf's Cafe (lentil and black bean bake with sundried tomatoes and olives, a coffee and a big slice of chocolate cake since you asked) and good old browse at Wheelbase.

Nice waterfalls at Garnett Bridge
I bought a couple of Lakes MTB guidebooks in the bike shop and was slightly pleased to see that the route I'd taken gets a "very hard" rating in the book for the descent of the two passes I'd done. I'll come back when I'm fitter and better and smash it out properly next time. The broken freehub has been replaced and I'm servicing my fork ready for round 2!

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