Sunday, 12 May 2013

North East Single Speeds First Group Ride - Swaledale

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
 
Hot and Sunny.  That is what the weather forecast was predicting for the long awaited first group ride for those members of the single speed group almost a week before hand.  People were getting excited about the prospect of finaly having some decent weather after what had seemed like an endless winter.  The Swaledale hills in Yorkshire near Reeth boasts some of the most beautiful natural trails in this country and a week before had been covered in feet of snow.

Three On-Ones lining up ready to go.  The first one has to many gears!
Weather forecasters it would appear are not very good at predicting weather a week in advance and as the days got closer suddenly it looked like strong winds were going to b the order of the day. Still some braved it out of there houses and we met up at the infamous Dales Bike Centre , a cracking little place with a small bike shop, cafe and accomadation run by a very friendly family.  There were only three of us on single speeds.  Matt, Mike and myself.  Dan (who incidentially got me into single speeds) was still making excuses as to not to change back from his gears, and Mark wasn't feeling up to the challenge of riding one gear up some of the demanding climbs.  I'm not sure I blamed them!

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.

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3 Comments:

Great pictures and write up, I almost felt like I had experienced the climbs, wind and rain with you! Keep it going, good stuff. Fly On-One flag, fly!

Yay! Singlespeed bike gang!

The way you put that it makes me think they'll have playing cards and pegs on their chain stays pressing into their rear spokes!

(Actually it's probably time for a resurgence of that thinking about it!)

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