MTBBerkhamsted visits the Peak District
``Carry on in the Peaks``
I had been looking forward to this trip since Dave first mentioned it, having heard and read about Ladybower and it's surroundings, most recently in MBR when they did the article with Hans Rey.
With Lloydy Martin and I making our way up on Friday afternoon we arrived at the Bunkhouse just outside Hathersage in the dark to find the advance party of Tom, Karl and John had already made their way to the pub, so we dumped our kit and made our way down into the depths of Hathersage. Fed and watered we met up with Tony, Dave, Simon, Tim, Lawrence, Bren and Steph at the Scotsman Pack to continue our beer tasting and another episode of "Carry on in the Peak District". After a short Peak style walk (mostly up) we were back at the bunkhouse and checking that Tring brewery hadn't let the quality of the beer Lloydy had acquired slip and with more Sid James type humour and some farting we retired to our bunks for the snoring competition. At times struggling to tell which end the noises were coming from I retired to a safer distance downstairs and some much needed sleep before our big day on Saturday
With the promise of beautiful sunshine it was a chilly start and thanks to the efforts of Bren and Steph we had breakfast and started the ritual of personal and bike faffing, joining the party from their fresh smelling B&B was Pierre and Alex , Rich 3rd, Rich 6th, Owen, Jeremy, Godfrey and Neil. All looking a bit stunned by the cold mist they had just ridden through to get up to the bunkhouse, but spirits were high and with the team pics taken we were ready for the off. Alex and Steph were taking a 17 mile route around Ladybower Reservoir and meeting us at the Ladybower Inn later on. Dave's brother Rich `the North` 7th also joined us so more local knowledge and another Rich to confuse things.
So into Hathersage along the main road and turning right onto a lane and we were into the first climb of the day, popping out through the mist and into the sun it became clear why we had made all this effort to come here, personally there are fewer places I would like to be on a sunny day than in the White Peaks of Derbyshire. We made our way up to the mast on Shatton Moor and were treated to another outstanding view over Hope and across to where we would be heading, after catching our breath we were making good progress across open moorland and ready for what was the first descent of the day, down a very slippery thin slope into Bradwell. Lloydy had set himself up ready for the action shots of riders flying past him only to have me nearly land on him when i dropped it into a puddle right in front of him, closely followed by Dan further down who also thought Lloydy would make a good target and make the close up more realistic. The final drop was more severe and involved a lot of sliding on backsides through gorse bushes and much hilarity, it wasn't easy. With everyone through the gate one way or another it was a chance to collect ourselves and pick the mud out of ears, armpits and make sure the handlebars were pointing the right way.
Through Bradwell and a quick sandwich stop, along the road to the junction with the Travellers Rest pub and up towards Aston. The climb was technical and making a close acquaintance with your new best friend "Granny Ring" we spread out, each making steady progress up Hope brink towards the Roman Road. As the climbing levelled out we were greeted with lots of hikers and started to pick lines through the ruts and puddles where Karl showed us how to fall off in style and the fun began beating our way up the Roman Road to Brackley Clough. The next section is renowned for being very technical and downward in nature and also nicknamed "The Beast" sounds like fun?
This is where you have to trust your bike and yourself because some of the drop offs were rather large and picking the wrong line could cause discomfort and pain, remembering to keep off your front brake and keep rolling , with each of us making our way through the gate Neil psyched himself up with some wall demolition and it was every man for himself as we picked and our lines through this fantastic rock garden. It really was a test of concentration and with everyone making it to the bottom we cheered as each member of the team came clattering down towards us. Feeling on a high and chattering in excited tones about what we had just ridden down and the near death stories getting longer we made our way down across the river and towards our first push up of the day.
Bloody steep we'll call that one even Tim struggled (a bit), at Lockerbrook Farm we had a break and regrouped, ready for another fun descent down through the forest with much puddle jumping and mud in the face. We were flying and at one point I could hear the Hope hub of Dan closing down on me only to find he was beside me at eye level on a large berm type edge and jumping a big hole, with little room for error it was an impressive sight. Twists and turns down towards Derwent reservoir and praying your front tyre doesn't wash out there were a lot of ear to ear grins when we all joined up at the road. With everyone safely to the bottom it was a quick road stint to the cafe at Ladybower, for proper bike food of Pie peas, gravy and soft water Tea.
We took the scenic route along the edge of the reservoir until we came to push number 2 and even granny had had enough at this point, it might of been a mixture of fatigue, pie peas and gravy, snoring and farting or just the incline but this was a tough climb, not even that technical initially. With some pushing and cursing we lay around in the heather at the top and got our breath back ready for our next challenge which consisted of peaty moorland interspersed with rocks and some deep puddles. Picking our way through this we got to the stone wall and turned right onto the path to Whinstone Lee Tor where it leveled out and the fun factor returned , it wasn't all plain sailing though with some of the puddles having wheel grabbing rocks hidden in them as Pierre found out when according to Tom he did the best Superman impression of the day followed by a rather large splash into the puddle below. Brushing himself down and emptying the water out of his pockets it must have been a bit of a shock.
With a fantastic view over Ladybower and the surrounding hills we had a few pics and then a flat out session twisting and carving our way ,4 a breast at one point with Tim, R3rd and Dan, down across the moor jumping gaps and hoping the landings were possible, following Dan is always an education in what an Orange 5 can do, a final regroup and a rocky descent to the Ladybower Inn for refreshments. With the beer starting to flow we looked back on what a fantastic day it had been and seemingly forgot the climbs , funny how beer does that, with some great pics in the cameras and everyone in one piece Steph and Alex joined us having enjoyed their ride.
From the Ladybower Inn the group split up slightly with some making their way back to the B&B , some back to the bunkhouse and a few to the Anglers Rest., suitably refreshed we were taken on a short cut back to the bunkhouse with local knowledge supplied by Dave's brother Rich `the North` 7th and with minutes to spare we landed at the bunkhouse (sorry guys if we were a little late) to enjoy a superb curry made by Bren and Steph then to wriggle under a cold shower our penalty for being late i guess. More of Trings finest was consumed with cakes supplied by Helen and Zora and Carry on in the peaks resumed in earnest.
All in all a great weekend with a lot of laughing and some superb riding which if i'm honest was very tough but exactly what our bikes were made to do.. I hope we can do it again.
Big thanks go to.....
Dave for organising the accommodation and route
Bren and Steph for the lovely food and catering
Lloydy for organising the beer
Karl,Tony, Tim, R3rd, R6th, Pierre, Lloydy for driving
Everyone for participating, having a laugh and giving it their best on some very technical trails.
oh and the weather for behaving itself.
Big no thanks to.... 18 bikes who turned away 7 or 8 potential customers who had waited 20 minutes for them to open only to be told to come back in half an hour... your loss guys.
and the cops who pulled us on the way home because Lloydys insurance company hadn't filled something in on their database.