Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Proof that God has a sense of humor. - Skiddaw Fail#2

Day out pass booked - Check
Riding Buddies - Double check
Route - Check
Weather - Check, oh hang on....

Thursday before I looked at BBC weather and it showed full on hardcore sunshine for Sunday. Right, off we go, Weest managed to get a pass out and Donk decided to join us also. I had the Skiddaw Cheek ride planned. A real epic, 30 miles and 7000' climbing / carrying.

The trip up was getting increasingly gloomy and rather worryingly the cloud base was very low. Driving through the Lune valley we could see nothing except the rain hammering against the windscreen. We pulled into Tebay services to stock up on the finest pies known to man, and while Weest was getting a coffee, I sat looking out of the window at the deluge being blown horizontally. Not good.

We met Dave at a layby just outside Keswick and parked up at the bottom of the Latrigg Bridleway. Getting kitted up in the rain wasn't much fun and was a precursor of what was to follow.

I was not really bothered about the rain, more worried about the cloud. The Caldbeck Fells are pretty bleak and featureless I I knew that the traverse from Great Calva over the Knott to Sca Fell would require compass bearings in the mist, not a problem on foot, but on a bike t can be a PITA.

Spun along the old railway to Threlked, and then started the climb up Glenderraterra to Skiddaw House. The rain has made the bedrock slippery as hell for some reason, probably due to it being so dry recently. Up to Skiddaw house and we were in good spirits, as despite the weather, it's still wonderful country to be riding in. We headed over towards Dash on the 4x4 track and as we past the flanks of Great Calva, I started looking for a path or sheep track that we could take in the ascent up to the high tops. None. Damn, there was nothing for it, but to just shoulder the bikes and take the direct route up. The bracken was knee deep and proved pretty hard going, however, I must admit to loving it. There is nothing like the feeling of adventure in off pieste biking and sure it was hard work, but well worth it. What wasn't much fun was the howling tempest slamming into us direct from Scotland, I was blown clean over a one point. Dave, I suspected started to have a sense of humour malfuncation at this point as he slammed his bike down off his shoulders in frustration, however, it had got stuck on his back pack, so he followed it into the heather lol.
We got to the top of Little Calva pretty quick really and then picked up the Fence coming over from Birkett Edge. We followed it to the corner and then it was Bearing time over to the Knott. NO path to speak of really, just riding in a fookin tempest over peaty hags. Proper Character building stuff. At the col, God really played his trump card and sent in the monsoon, horizontal monsoon as well. Dave, it turned out, had not packed a waterproof, however he did have a shower proof piece of kit and he attempted to get it out. No I must admit to having a right old chuckle to myself here, watching him try and upack a coat that was basically acting as a sail and desperately wanted to transfer itself into Lancashire via the wind. He battled valiantly with it, whilst me and Weest just hunkered down, backs to the wind and rain watching him. At one point I was almost roaring with laughter, however the palpable waves of hardcore pissed off'ness that were emanating from Dave prevented me from passing comment, for fear of getting a Heckler shoved right up my arse. Anyway, after about 5 mins, Dave managed to get his Asda Bag on him and I suggested that it may be prudent to call a halt to further proceedings. This was instantly agreed to by all parties concerned and I elected to get the fuck out of there. Now here, whisper it, I made what I will perhaps concede, was a navigational cock up. From our location, IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE I thought it would be best to head twoards the Mosedale Bridleway, then to Skiddaw House and along Longscale craggs. What I failed to notice was the wonderful singletrack bridleway descending to our west, which would have provided wonderful riding and a route to the foot of the Dash Falls Bridleway. Doh. My excuse for this was that my map was printed out on an ink jet printer and I didnt have time to laminate it. So everytime I looked at it, it got wet and then basically turned to mush.

Still, ever the optimist, I told the lads to follow Wiley Gill down to Mosedale. Now I'm not 100% sure, but I'd put a big chuck on money on us probably being the 1st bikers ever to descend this lonely valley. Nothing in here, not a path, nothing. Even the sheep couldnt be bothered to get their act together and form a sheep track for us to follow. This, predictably, made the going a little bit tough, however I have to admit to enjoying it. A proper bit of adventure in the face of adversity.

So there we are in the lonely valley, not a path in sight and what do we come across ? a Bridge over one the other tributary streams. Why the hell someone had gone to the effort of putting it here, over just one of many tributaries was utterly beyond me and bordered on the surreal.
Weest and Donk at this stage were considering riding along the stream bed, but it proved to be a little bit deeper than it looked, however Weest managed to use it to get under the last fence.
We finally hit the Mosedale Bridleway, just in time for the murderous head wind to kick up and batter us all the way to Skiddaw House. It was at this point that I gave my knee a right good twatting on the stem, further adding to the delights of the day. Had I not been in the company of two battle hardened bikers, I'd have burst into tears. From Skiddaw House we blatted along to Lonscale crag's where the polished bedrock claimed me straight away and I landed in a heap. Here, Dave's rear tyre, tubeless, was now requiring pumping up every 300 yards or so, indeed, it had got so low that at one point it "burped". A state of affairs which I found hillarious. A fucking back wheel burping!

We really shouldnt have taken the piss as karma soon set in and I flatted on the downhill from Latrigg, and whilst Weest came back up for me, he also got a flat.

Donk scattered all the walkers like a ten pin bowling ball descending and we were soon back at the car. Here, God played his final jolly on us. The skies miraculously cleared, the rain stopped and the wind died. Even Skiddaw was clear. Oh how we all laughed. I will return and do this ride sometime soon. It will not defeat me.


D0NK said...

Definite sense of humour failure on my part - sorry, but my ire was aimed squarely at myself and the elements not the navigator ;-) Strangely as soon as we binned the ride I cheered right up.

yoshimi said...

Ha Ha - classic! I could never imagine Donk being all wound up, must have been bad!