“Same again?”, “Yeah, why not.” – It could be a conversation about all manner of things. Another glass of a fine red wine or a good beer on a night out for example. But on this occasion it’s the annual trip to the Peak District for some serious mountain biking fun.
I’ve been going with a small group of like minded guys (not sure I can get away with using the term ‘lads’ these days), for several years now. Usually in January but this time in February, making the most of whatever the weather chooses to throw at us, riding for several hours on the Saturday and then again on the Sunday morning and staying over in the Youth Hostel in Castleton. The route changes very little from year to year just a tweak here and there depending on time, weather, group fitness and the like.
Does it get boring, repetitive, a bit samey? Nope!
It’s just like the additional glass of fine red wine or the craft beer that goes down a treat. The trails in the Peak District are made for mountain biking. Not literally, obviously, they were presumably made for farming! However, the big hills, steep descents, rocky surfaces and plenty of public access make for a great time.
On this particular visit there were three of us that had been several times before and one who was new. One who was a well seasoned cyclist, plenty fit enough and certainly willing to dig in when the going gets tough, but with no experience of the technical type of trails that the Peaks offer up in spades. There was truly no need to worry though as he took it all in his stride and loved every moment.
The riding was focused entirely around the Ladybower Reservoir area taking in some of the classic Peaks rocky bridleways, such as Potato Alley, Hagg Farm, Gores Plantation etc. Factoring in a stop at the Ladybower cafe at lunchtime for Pie, Pea & Gravy. Something of a tradition for me at the start of each year now! Of course with this particular route, the problem of eating too much pie, is getting up the next hill!
I have no intention of describing chronologically every part of the route or our ride. Instead I just want to say how awesome it is to ride in a place like the Peak District. Even from Cambridgeshire it’s only a couple of hours drive and the scenery is fantastic. I can also recommend staying in Castleton. We stayed at the youth hostel but there are hotels and B&Bs to stay in too and Castleton it seems is always busy in the evening, especially any Saturday that we happen to be there!
The following day gave us an opportunity to ride a second loop and we chose to take in the big descent down Chapel Gate. A couple of years back we went up Chapel Gate in the snow and ice and coming down this time seeing how steep it is, I can hardly believe that we managed to hike-a-bike up it before! Sunday morning was a shorter day for the riding and we finished in time for a pub lunch before heading home.
I think it’s safe to say that a good weekend was had by all. I had fitted new tyres especially for the weekend and was happy with the grip I got out of them. I had a bit of tyre deflation sometime on the Saturday and had to put some more air in on the Sunday morning. I thought that maybe the sealant hadn’t taken but on further inspection having got home it turns out that I’d picked up a big thorn. Same again next year? I don’t see why not! They say variety is the spice of life. But sometimes when you’ve found something so good, you just want to repeat it again and again.