Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Dales Ride

I headed back over to the Dales on Friday, this time to ride from Horton over to Bainbridge and back, primarily to ride all the way down the Roman Road. There was however the small matter of riding up Fleet Moss and pushing up onto Horsehead to deal with...

A complete contrast to the last time I was over there, gorgeous sunshine and very little wind. My new Garmin had arrived on Thursday so route plotted on that and on a map, navigation simple again. Set off riding up the way I had descended last time at a nice easy pace. Had to stop to wait for some sheep to pass. At least I stopped, the two walkers I had just passed kept walking which only succeeded in chasing the sheep all the way back up. I'm sure the farmers were impressed.

The climb was fairly straight forward until the rubbly section, which seemed very bad. I kept pedalling but going nowhere. I don't know if it was as bad as that when I came down it and the water was just hiding everything. If that was the case then I was very lucky to get down it riding so slowly.

Up onto Birkwith moor, a really nice track to ride in this direction and all the water splashes were back to normal and rideable. My legs were not particularly sprightly I have to say but fresh legs are a luxury (so I told myself) and just kept pedalling. I was slightly worried that I seemed to need my first butty after about 6 miles, quite early really as apart from waiting for the sheep I hadn't stopped. I obviously hadn't eaten enough after running the night before.

I had energy drink too but I really needed some solid food. It wasn't long before I was heading for Fleet Moss. I had taken the hardtail out as the Titus has been having all the fun lately...actually the gears are totally shot and I hadn't had time to sort them out. However, the front brake was playing up, has been for a while. It was giving its little chirp which is really annoying but I was also slowing down on any downhill sections rather than speeding up.

After the first steepish ramp after Oughtershaw I decided that climbing Fleet Moss with a partially applied front brake wasn't my idea of a great time. I pulled over into a large layby and had a serious look at the brake. Tried pushing pistons back though they seemed ok, it still touched the disk. I tried shimming it with the barest of shims but that pushed it too far over. After a good faff it had freed enough to continue (i.e. the fluid had cooled down).

The squeak came back eventually but I was quite near the top. I'm glad I've come down it as it's a deceptive sod, gets harder the further up you go, the last switchback I took wide! Cracking view down the valley though, so nice to be able to really appreciate it.

Across the top then down a bit towards the start of the offroad section of the Roman Road, passed a couple of recumbents climbing up as I was dropping. A bit of climbing first, actually a bit more than I thought, a bit of rolling along before the long, fast drop into Bainbridge.

Nothing technical but very fast, the kind of track where a full suspension could get up to quite silly speeds and get you into trouble, my hardtail tried a few times too. It seemed to go on forever, then had a fair old road descent into Bainbridge afterwards. I rolled into Bainbridge and sat in the sun for a while and ate another butty, I was about half way but the worst climbs were still to come.
The climb out wasn't too bad, would have been better without brake faff but as I couldnt't be bothered to stop all the time I only did something when it was really starting to bind. It was a pretty gradual but steady climb up onto Stake Allotments. One loose bit of track to work hard on but rest of it was fine. I'd never been up here before and on such a glorious day it was lovely cruising. Nothing technical just vast open space.

I really enjoyed tootling along here, however it would be pretty bleak on a minging day. About half way along I found a nice big puddle and got a handful of Yorkshire's finest gritty mud and smeared it all over the front disk, sorted it out for ages. To cap off a fab bit of cruising a fast, lumpy drop to the road. Excellent. Then a long fast road drop down towards Hubberholme. I pass the recumbents going up again, except this time I realise they are hand word they were working hard up that hill.

It wasn't lost on me that all this long descent was heading for a massive up, I could see where I needed to get to and it was high. I stopped at the bottom of the bridleway to Horsehead for my last butty before beginning the push up, I knew it was going to be a push.

Bits of the bottom section were actually rideable, it was very steep and grassy but if you had the legs you could get up some of it. If I had had fresher legs then I would have tried a lot more and only succeeded in tiring myself out. It got pretty unrideable for the rest of it and it just went on and on and on and the hot sun. It took a long time to push up, added an awful lot of time onto a ride which had already had its fair share of faff with brake fiddling and a leisurely lunch stop.

The top eventually came and the view was enough to put a smile on my face again.

Next the descent to Halton Gill which I have seen raved about. I wasn't that impressed to be honest. Ok it was fast but it only had a couple of lumpy corners for interest and it was over far too quickly. The Dales is packed with good fast descents that don't need an epic push to get to them. So I probably wouldn't bother again.

The bridleway along Pen-y-Ghent on the other hand was fantastic fun. The grassy slog of a climb was hard and my legs didn't want to ride it all but once onto the flatter bridleway with all the tricksy rock my legs suddenly kicked into life. I loved it, even the really boggy stuff had dried out enough that only a few sections were too soft to get through.

Time had seriously gotten away from me, the light was definitely changing, think it was getting on past five:

It wasn't as dark as that picture suggests but the light was changing. The July weather had made me forget that I didn't have July levels of daylight. As I got to the end of the fun track and joined up with the last wide track back to Horton my water ran out - timing. My forearms were feeling pretty sore from all the pushing probably so I did the last drop to the car pretty fast in an attempt to not use the brakes much. There were a couple of surprises I have to say but I got away with them.

The benefit of it being late on was that I only passed one walker the whole way down. Back to the car, clean bike, head home, order takeaway, fall asleep after managing to stay awake for Rebus. A longer day than I really thought, glad I didn't leave it much later in the year though I now have plans to do a Horton Bainbridge ride without the push up Horsehead.....


  1. Sounds fabulous. You're definitely making the most of your Fridays.

  2. Sounds like a great ride. Love how you are using your 4 day week so well!