Its the off season.. well as close to an off season as mountain bikers get, with the new popularity of winter enduros the racing season is now year round.
This doesn't leave much time for getting back to riding for ridings sake.. no agenda.. no intervals.. certainly no heart rate monitor.. just bikes, friends and big days out.
I have been keeping a low profile, swimming, turbo training, spin classes.. nothing too focussed just keeping the legs working before the real work starts.
With work now taking over a large part of my life i jump at the chance to warrant booking some time off to get away.. i am definately on the 'work to live' side of the fence and certainly never ' living to work' unless someone stumps up to pay me to ride my bike for whatever reason i don't care:)
The chance to take some time of came in the form of an invite from a fellow endurance racer, Richard Rothwell, to do some big days in the Lakes...
I won't pretend to know the routes we took as as Rich has spent a large amount of time in the Lakes he was the guide and i was the passenger... but the climbs were big, downhills were sizeable and bike handling skills were needed in plenty.
Day one started just outside of Ambleside...
(new bike but thats another story for the future)
The plan was to stay low and skirt the valley sides picking off all the choice sections and stringing them into a great days riding... we hit so many good spots with Rich wanting to show how good the riding is there without the need to head up a mountain.... weather was close to perfect.. just the right temperature and dry:)
I hav lost track of how many climbs and descents we took in that day... highlights being the badly timed 2 up timetrial we had to do to catch the ferry to get across windermere to take in the last descent which just so happened to be in the dark with no lights and Rich clling out which side of trail to be on and when the the stuff was coming up.. madness.
This was all about height gain... starting in Coniston and heading up and over Walna scar.. the goign was ride and push but the descent on the other side was all rideable.. the top section has recently been resurfaced so was full on 30 plus mph descending then into the loose rocky section with some serious arm pump building up!!
Th pic shows the downhill cutting down the hillside...
Before we could get going furher we had to cross my worst nightmare.. wet stepping stones!!! My shoes are so worn they have zero traction.. i managed to get across without a soaking ( this time)..
The next section was a drag and a pull through boggy marsh.. followed by another choice downhill which dropped us at bottom of Wrynose pass.. luck was on my side and we wer turning left and away and not right and up.. i like the odd climb but 30% ers are another level.. We rode the road down the valley the turned to Boot and joined a bridleway onto another marshy climb.. when we crested this final climb we were 4 hours in.. nothing left now but to turn around and ride back:)
The return trip rode alot easier than the ride out and it was definately the prefered direction to be riding it.. highlights on the return trip were definately me and Rich getting bogged down literally in a bog.. the going went soft so we tried to gas it out only for Rich to end up to his waist and me to my knee in lovely cold water:)
As we got back tot he stepping stones it was dark so we lighted up.. i decided that as it wasn't that cold and i was wet anyway i wasn't gonna chance a fall so walked through the river:)
This just left Walna Scar to ride/push up in the dark... it definately seemed longer and tiredness set in... a lone wlker coming down that complained about our bright lights was lucky to get away unscathed as wind was now howling.. i was down to one overshoes as the other had fallen foul to the rocky walks.. and i was hungry but wanting to push it out till the top then wrap up for the descent..
On the descent Rich gave me a sound lesson in technical descending.. in the dark i was reduced to walking some sections but he destroyed them.. this is skill money can't buy and seems to belong to people that have spent large amounts of time riding the Lakes which is really the only place you can find these crazy long rock infested downs. End of the ride.. we got back and went for a well earned curry and beer.. off season race diet:)
The last day of riding.. with back to back 8 hour days under our velts we decided to throw out a short one.. a route around Skiddaw was chosen.
This was a welcome change.. most the climbing was middle ring and the views were amazing..
The final descent was un typical of the lakes and more like the Peak district leafy steep flowy descending i can get involved with.. manual rolling.. jumps.. super fast.. it had it all.
All in an amazing few days riding.. big thanks to Richard Rothwell.. top rider and top lakeland guide:)
Hopefully i will update later with a more detailed route description.. or people could just ontact Rich directly for a first class lakeland kicking!!