Fat Lad’s Tweet Rides – May: @RichStwit’s Rock’n’Roller

If these Tweetup rides are to teach me anything I think the main learning point will be the non-epiphanical that, no really, I couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. I had originally supposed to be riding with Si over at Gisburn the week before, LINK however we managed to miss each other at different car parks and also out on the trail we had it seemed only been a few scant miles apart the whole way round.

In the following week I managed to organise a ride with Richstwit forgetting that I had also agreed to show Si the Res Raid as well. Honestly it’s a miracle I manage to walk and breathe at the same time. So I let Rich know that I was bringing Si and Luis as well. Rich replied: “… just so you know all rides start off up up up from here! 3 shredded wheat advisable!” Well, if the man asks, I made sure I had plenty of breakfast. If I have to eat, well I suppose I must.

The satnav took me on an entertaining and interesting route to the outskirts of the city of steel but despite it’s best technological routing I managed to roll up bang on time. Introductions over, we had a very fine cup of tea courtesy of Rich, talked bikes, Gisburn forest and the usual inevitable small talk from a collection of cyclists. Helmets upon heads, hydration packs on backs and bums on saddles we headed out, quite literally, into the hills. Out of the door and it was up, up UP. As we climbed steadily away from Casa Richstwit Victorian terraced houses blended street by street into tree lined avenues. Heading left off the black top we ran parallel to the road on a ribbon of dirt before dropping down a flight of steps. It was far too early on in the ride to be using the ‘Coward Card’ so I hung over the back of the hardtail and rolled down without incident. With only a few miles consumed by pedalling legs this had so far been the only descent. It honestly hadn’t bothered me as I was having one of those feck-me-sideways rarest of days where I felt strong but Rich apologised to us all anyways.

We crossed a major arterial road into Sheffield dodging an unusual amount of traffic for a Sunday morning and entered into a tree shaded park. It was of the kind our Industrial ancestors were keen on creating as a guilt ridden thank you to those who had to toil in the mills and factories that paid for this greenery. Following the theme for the morning it was more height gain pedaling along the wide paths dodging the high volume of families, dog walkers, yummy mummys, prams and any other form of foot traffic that could occupy the same space we weaved upstream. The climb was a long gradual drawn out affair, never enough the trouble the high numerical toothed cogs but enough to let’s it upwards direction be known. Near the top Rich and I stopped to let Si and Louis catch up as a guy blasting along astride his On-One Inbred blew past us at a good rate of knots. “He might be fitter, stronger and younger than us” I announced “but we’re better looking.”  Remounted we topped off the park climb onto more tree lined roads and despite the wind picking up around us it really was a glorious day.

The group descended a steep hairpin road that sharply and suddenly became a climb again before the road could become dull we exited back onto dirt Blacka Moor bound.  Upwards and onwards we came to a fork in the trail, there was a collective chuckle as Si asked “So, is it up or up?” The correct path (indeed up) was but first of all took us through a stream. As Rich was promising “Half a ‘nana and a good pat on the back” to any rider that cleared it a free riding rad dude flew down the trail cover more distance mid air than on the dirt. He rolled past us with a nod that said “I’d throw you the horns and say stoked lots but I’m far too cool to talk to a bunch of blokes riding XC. Dudes.”

I set off through the stream with Louis ahead of me soaking both feet and my arse attacking the climb with a determined grimace.  On the steep dirt ahead of us were two tall steps but luckily with a run around each. Digging in I cleared the first too but at the third much shorter step with no escape route I stalled as the rear wheel failed to clear the lip. A few scant feet and we were back on again and the grimaces receded as the trail eased off a bit. Rich blasted past us and I didn’t have to wonder for too long why as he hopped off to open a gate for us. I cursed him with a chuckle and carried on. In a bizarre turn of events I ended up first to the bench and as we all stopped for a breather four Supermarket Specials rocketed by each rider atop grinning like loons.

With lungs refilled and heart rates lowered the pedals turned again. The trail soon turned rocky, technical and a granny ring slow burner with lines needed to be chosen well in advance. I silently prayed to the gods of the trail for a dab free ascent and managed to pull it off rolling up to our next stop. Rich and Louis congratulated me with Louis describing it “that was all a bit junior kick-start that wasn’t it?” The other side of the wooden barrier we headed out into evil evil wind up an evil evil grass climb. Once the climb had finished we turned onto the tarmac a soul sucking strong headwind tugging all the drive from climb weary legs. Ahead of me Si joked that I shouldn’t turn off for Bakewell as we spun easy gears past the road signage. I know this because he told me again once we had got out of the howling gale.

We decided here was a good place for a breather. Gathering our breath back Rich took delight in sharing his local knowledge pointing out the various lumps, mounds and hilly bits and their names on the horizon. With the lumpy bits of ground I-Spy game over we finally, finally, were rewarded with a tailwind. The wide open track we were covering at gale assisted speed had a strange almost quartz like sheen to it’s surface.

In winter I guessed it would be a horrid sandy grinding paste but in the now I just admired the views and the ride. The path headed downwards starting off almost blacktop smooth gradually transitioning into a rockier and rockier track daring you to carry too much speed into it and I took the challenge to heart. With a few ‘My, that was close…” moments behind me we all regrouped back on the tarmac. Thankfully the next road section proved to be short lived as we exited stage left into a steep rooty woodland. Louis and Si now in their element on big bouncy bikes rocketed ahead leaving Rich and I to sweep long behind them. Riding way beyond my ability again I had a few more “My, really, that was close” moments picking up speed and false confidence with each corner rock root and trail obstacle. We regrouped swapping tall tales of the last few minutes of trail stretching out the few hundreds of seconds into miles and miles of derring do.

The yummy mummy infested path from earlier now became a joyful woop filled downhill speed gathering rocket sled slalom run. We had the very last section of road to finish and as we rolled back up to the van Rich rewarded us with the promise of more tea and home made flapjack.

As we consumed the sugary goodness we West Yorkshire interlopers made promise to show Rich ‘our’ trails and with all honesty and heart I genuinely would love to.

Fat Lad

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3 Comments

  1. Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Great post -almost makes me to start mountainbiking.

    BTW I’m glad to find someone else with the same organising talent as I have

  2. Posted September 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    That seems like an awful long time ago!

    Whenever you fancy another go (less all-up all-down next time) let me know.

  3. Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    keep it up! only a few months left

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