July 31, 2006

Big long bike ride

Writing about web page http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=332222.

Once you enter the world of the child-ridden, when the chance of a weekend away presents itself you’ve got to make the most of it. So it was that, as the rest of the family went to the in-laws, I headed north with the Big Bike in tow to ride the Peak District

Saturday’s ride was a fairly un-eventfull jaunt of about 50K around Bakewell, which was very enjoyable, but Sunday was the Big Day Out.

We set off from Langsett at about 9:30, and rode up over derwent moor, following the classic Cut Gate path – perfect moorland singletrack in bone-dry conditions. A fast descent off the top over flagstones rolled into a steep and loose drop down to the head of Ladybower reservoir.
A few K’s of spinning round the side of the reservoir bought us to the killer climb up to Lockerbrook farm, then a quick descent down to Rowlee farm and the A57. From here we climbed the long, loose ascent to Hope Cross, then blasted down the Roman Road descent, which was almost dry for once, and into Hope.
A few more road K’s took us up through Castleton and onto the ‘Broken Road’ – the old Castleton-Chapel Gate road, destroyed by a landslide 30 years ago and now just barely rideable, so long as you avoid the 4-foot drops and holes.
More road bought us to the start of Rushup Edge, where my brave attempt to ride the normally-unrideable steep pull onto the edge came to an untimely end due to my camelback hooking on to a tree branch which flexed, then twanged me off the bike. Dignity regained, it was onto the top of the edge for some more top-notch dry moorland riding, joining the old chappelgate road, now a mess of loose rock and gritstone drop-offs.
From here, we headed north again through Roych Clough and on up the long pull up Famine Hill. A fast descent down the other side bought us to the oddly-named Peep o’ day, and another big climb onto the top of Chinley Churn. A belting high-speed southwards track bought us into Buxworth and thence Whaley Bridge. A few hundred yards south on the A5004 got us to Taxal, where we dropped off the road and attempted to cross the ford. The score was: 1 rider crossed it dry, one got wet feet, and one went straight over the handlebars to end up sitting in the river. Fortunately it was warm enough not to matter!
From Taxal, we followed the trail south along the edge of the Goyt Valley, ending with the long long road climb up to Derbyshire Bridge and the Cat and Fiddle.

From here a little gentle persuasion was employed to coax one of the team away from the short-cut road descent back to Macclesfield, and we headed out over the moor again, racing down to the A54. Back off-road again to take in Cumberland Clough, which seems to have got a lot rockier in the last few years, then down to Wildboarclough and the road climb up to the Macclesfield Forest. Though the forest on the wide but slidey gravel track, then down to the reservoir at Langley. Now the end was finally coming in to sight, and we ground our way up the final climb of the day, the long drag up the cobbled track to Teggs nose.

We paused here to pre-order a victory curry, then pointed downhill and raced down one final off-road section towards Macclesfield. Just as we came out of this section, with barely more than a mile to go, the puncture fairy made a belated visit, and we were forced into a high-speed tube change, with thoughts of rapidly-cooling Chicken Balti uppermost in our minds. 5 more minutes saw us finally spinning into Rainow, the end of the trip, after 85K of top-quality Dark Peak riding. And whilst I’m not convinced that a 37lb freeride bike is the ideal tool for such an undertaking, I don’t think that I suffered much more on the climbs than Dave on his 22lb Marin Team Ti hardtail, and I’m sure I enjoyed the downhills more!

Now this is a route profile. 2,700M of rock-bouncing downhill fun (oh, and some climbing too)

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