Standing on the top of a hill surrounded by some beautiful countryside shrouded in mists a small group of cyclists stand huddled behind a wall to shelter from the howling wind and driving cold wind. The climb had been steep and boggy and faces show sign of tiredness. Yet as food and drink are consumed spirits remain high and there are still smiles. Someone then pipes up "I thought you said it was going to be hot and sunny?"
|L to R. Mark, Dan, Matt and Mike taking shelter from the inhospitable weather|
|Three On-Ones lining up ready to go. The first one has to many gears!|
We set off on the lower valley riding by the dry stone walls that are found in abundance in this area, breaking up the farms land to form a patch work of rugged squares across the moorlands. Of course this means lots of gates to negotiate. The ground was still very wet and there was a good amount of pasty mud mixed in with the rocky ground. We were heading into the wind but it was fairly flat with only the occasional hill to wake the legs up. More to the point it wasn't raining.
Its funny thing with cyclists. Most of the guys out today didn't know each other and yet put together they share their love of cycling and chatter never ran short. We rolled on until our u turn point and where crossing the valley the real climbing was about to begin. The rain of course had begun.
We were faced with a brute of climb which on a good day would have been hard but with the mud we were finding it hard to get any traction. All but one of us were forced to walk much of that climb. Matt, the younger of us, is like a whippet and very strong even on one gear. He ploughed up the climb with what seemed like little bother putting most of us to shame! Once near the top we were truly exposed to the elements and felt the rain and wind drive hard at us.
|Pushing up but there are still smiles....or grimaces|
Yes I was the one who had promised a hot sunny day.
Still at least we were heading back and that involved some downhill with a good wind on our backs. Mike got blown off as we set off from the top, which shows how strong the wind was. I was fighting to hold my lines down the damp moor land track. As we went down the weather had improved and the skies had cleared, but it didn't stop us getting lost and having to negotiating a steep hill side on foot. The final decent down was a narrow rocky one between the hedges which was doing its best impression of a stream as the water overflowed from the snow capped fells. There was still the occasional couple foot of snow across the path too!
|A puncture is always a good excuse to rest and chat|
Getting back to the Dales bike centre we were able to shower the muck off ourselves and bikes before warming ourselves in the cafe with a nice cuppa and some very tasty cake. The worst of the rain then began so in someways we were lucky! It was a good ride out with some awesome people and hopefully the start of more ride outs together and good friendships.