Thursday, 22 October 2015

Bikepacking MicroAdventure - Lake District 2 dayer, 13,000ft 95 miles

Inspired by our Summer Bikepack Microadventure through mid Wales, Dave and me vowed to fit another in before the end of the year. There were 3 destinations I had in mind ;

* Mid Wales again - lots still to explore, riding was good but not techy and not much singletrack
* Yorkshire Dales - Loads of multi valley bridleways & tracks giving endless options
* Lakes - Our favourite riding trails. Plus lots of pubs and tea shops!
The 95 mile 2 day Lake District Bikepack Route
Day  1: Staveley, Jenkins Crag, Arnside, Claife Heights, Grizedale, Blawith Fells, Duddon Bridge, Dunnerdale
Day 2: Stephenson Ground, Walna Scar, Tilberthwaite, Blea Tarn, Gt Langdale, Loughrigg, Jenkins Crag, Garburn Pass
I think the pubs and tea shops sealed the deal plus its our favourite Mountain Biking area - trails are anything from ribbons of singletrack going for miles through remote scenery, to techy 4x4 tracks to trailcentre-esque forest routes.

So, armed with trepidation, 2 bikes, 2 seatpacks, 2 handlebar bags and a route which looked guaranteed to offer a challenge and great riding in equal measure - we headed to the start of our ride - Staveley and therefore the Eagle & Child Inn. I've given a bit more detail on how we managed to pack so light down the bottom of this post but in a word - Alpkit. Awesome UK products which perform well and don't break the bank.

The weather as we set off was settled and cool but not cold on the way to our Camp1 overnight spot just above Staveley. We just needed to get into the open fells tonight as the next two days was when the riding started properly.
This is the view we had on Saturday morning - what a great start to the weekend ! 
The only thing with packing so light is that getting all the stuff you need back into two small bike bags is quite an intimidating task - let alone battling with the bike to get them attached ! After a good gear faff and a healthy helping of porridge, honey and fixing Dave's slow puncture we set headed off to our target destination : Dunnerdale, near Caw.

Throughout Day1 we would pass through Troutbeck, Ambleside, Outgate and Grizedale for lunch then Blawith, Broughton Mills, Duddon Bridge, Ulpha and then to camp high on the fells. The riding was fantastic throughout - it was mostly offroad but had a great mix of rubbly paths, rocky singletrack ribbons and easy riding tracks. We hardly saw anyone until our first stop in Grizedale cafe.

It was wonderful riding, with the only issue being a lack of water. In all the years I've been going to the Lake District, I'd never seen the streams like this - they were non existent apart from the major ones (which were often lower down and therefore not ideal for topping up water bottles from). We had to pay a visit to some National Trust accommodation to get topped up as I was starting to get headaches.
Day1 : CW from Top Left : Black Fell, Claife Heights, Parkamoor1, Parkamoor2, Woodland Fell, Thwaites Fell
One of my favourite trails of the day was the Three Witches in Grizedale - normally done in descent, but we did it as a pretty hard climb - still very good fun and basically all rideable. Progress was good until we stumbled upon some rarely used Bridleways near Boad Hole, Duddon Bridge - in fact, the OS map showed a BW which no longer exists on the ground. A quick diversion soon found us pushing the bikes towards Thwaites fell for the final leg over to our camp whilst the sun was giving a lovely glow whilst starting to set.

Our Overnight Camp
Part of the reason for choosing this area as an overnight camp is the proximity of The Blacksmiths Arms - another fantastic Lakes pub which just oozes atmosphere whilst offering great beer (and food, although we managed on Noodles!).
Bikepack Day 2 : Lovely riding towards White Pike - just before Walna Scar, Coniston
Day 2 was looking slightly shorter on the map than day 1 - about 40 miles today. We started off with the path round Stephenson Ground and Jackson Ground - another of my favourites - before starting the climb up to Walna Scar and popping out on the high fells as you can see above.

We'd not ridden the Walna Scar descent for many years and it's now a ride of two halves - top half - nice n rubbly and techy - bottom half - sanitised. Disappointing really but I'm sure over time it will develop some character. A quick food stop in Coniston Lake side cafe before heading out through Tilberthwaite, Little Langdale, Blea Tarn and another sanitised track through Great Langdale - again this used to be a lovely bridleway to ride but is now almost wheelchair friendly.
Bikepack Day 2 : Blea Tarn
Although Day 2 was slightly shorter, the full packs and rubbly trails were starting to take the freshness out of both of our legs - that and the 13,000ft of climbing ! The last 2 trails were Jenkins Crag (push) and Garburn - the latter being more technical riding than either of us had found before on this trail.

To top the weekend off, we got back to Staveley around 515, just in time to find the local Artisan Bakery wanting to get rid of out of date sausage rolls and posh cobs - they didn't last long!

A great weekend of hard riding on perfect trails, with great pub and cafe stops. Just what a biking weekend should be.

As I mentioned above the lightweight equipment Alpkit offers has opened up new avenues of lightness and comfort for backpacking and bikepacking. None of the equpment is expensive either, plus they are based near Eastwood, 8 miles away.

Tent : Alpkit Ordos 2. Just over 1kg, spacious 2 man. Best backpacking tent I've ever used
Sleeping Bag : PHD Minimus, 500g
Thermarest : Alpkit Numo 450g - Again, the best packpacking option I've ever used. Folds flat
Down Jacket : PHD Minimus Pullover, 300g
Waterproof Jacket : Haglofs LIM Ultimate 240g
Lighting : Exposure Joystick, just awesome!

Seat Pack : Alpkit Airlok 13l Tapered
Handlebar Pack : Airlok Extra 13l
Velcro straps : Pair, long

Camp Stuff : Packpillow, Foil Groundsheet (reflects more heat than the footprint), Earplugs (tent can get flappy), cheapy 500ml Pan with lid which fits the smallest gas cylinder and stove inside it, Pan stability feet, wet wipes, contact lenses, spork, stove foil windshield

Overnight Clothes : LS Merino Top, Leggings, Socks, Tights, Buff, Gloves
Evening Meal : Posh cupasoup / Posh Packet Cous Cous / Custard & Mars Bars
Breakfast : Porridge with added sugar / honey pre bagged
Bike Stuff : Multitool, Tubes, Pump, Oil, Chain links, cable ties
Other : Camera, Tripod, Spare Battery, Phone in Ortlieb Case with Battery power pack

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Notts Derby Cyclocross, Shipley Park

No photo's from this one sadly so we've got the course map (from Strava)

Great race - very very fast and dry - 29th out of 120ish I think. Suited me really. Mum and Apps came down to watch Lewis in the under 12s race - I think he was 23rd out of 77 not bad as he's 8.

Cyclomonster from Spondon were down the weekend - sadly they had some lovely, lovely shiny cross bikes with them - and there was me - I didn't even need a new bike! Always the way tho...

Results here
Strava link here

Orienteering, Shirebrook Wood

Really enjoyed my first orienteering of the season - cycled there on the MTB too as it was such nice weather. Went for blue course and thankfully I didn't get lost otherwise I'd have got home too late!

Really enjoyed the mix of thick woodland, some wilder grassy sections and then the fast tracks too. Reminded me of some KIMM navigation from the Scottish Borders, which is high praise indeed !

3rd on the blue course, pleased !

Results here

Wingerworth Wobble Fell Race, 5th/80

Always try and get along to this low key local fell race - a really enjoyable shortish hilly course which goes round some lovely woodland and paths around Wingerworth, nr Chesterfield.
Wingerworth Wobble Route : Clockwise
I'd not really run much but had been biking quite a bit, so my running is normally ok when I do that. Luckily, this was the case - I knocked about 2 mins off last year's time despite feeling sluggish in the legs.

Pity this viewpoint doesn't quite capture how steep this final hill feels !
Strava link here
Results here