Back to Basics.

On Friday I finished building a bike that has been adorning my kitchen wall for the last six months. Free from its captivity as an expensive item of interior decor and having waited patiently for me to acquire all the necessary components to put it back together, we were keen to get on the trails once again. Alas Friday night’s meal resulted in food poisoning that left me out of action all day Saturday.

This morning the clocks had sprung forward an hour, the sun was eagerly trying to break through the clouds, I was feeling like eating something again (I must be feeling better) and the bike was still lurking there, beckoning me to take it out to play. Any plans of getting dirty with each other were shot down in flames when Jo reminded me that I had promised her to spend some quality time with her. So the early morning hours were spent digging out the walking boots and get ready for a day hill-walking in the Peaks.

I have only been on the train to Edale without the accompaniment of a bike on two occasions. Both have been walking trips and yet again today I am tormented by a group of other riders whose bikes are onboard and together with us are being whisked towards the hills. The carriage feels lonely without one of my bikes there and I feel out of place. I should be memorising the route from the map, doing last minute kit checks, psyching myself up too. My day-dreaming is broken by Jo wanting to know whether we are nearly there yet. Our imminent arrival at our destination is marked by the train bursts out of the Gowburn tunnel to find the Vale of Edale basking in warm sunshine.

A quick cup of tea at the Station Cafe and there some more riders are having a mid-ride break. Jo and I discuss a route for the day and whether or not that was a sausage dog that just walked by. Neither of us feel to ambitious after yesterday and the plan is to stomp up to Hollins Cross and traverse along and down to Hope for Lunch. As we contemplate a group of riders stop by to stock up on cake for their ride. Here the potential for subconscious bike snobbery kicks in, ah one of those, not much of a bike by some people’s standards. A second look reveals that they seem to know what they’re doing though and there’s some nice upgrades fitted here and there. Maybe they’re first bikes.

I remember my first bike. I wouldn’t want to ride it now, but then I didn’t know anything more about bikes than how to fix a puncture. My mountain bike was my first geared bike and the first that allowed me to do some real exploring. As I became a ‘mountain biker’, learned about riding the painful, slow, expensive way, I became more and more addicted. As bits wore out or broke, I bought new bits that were a bit better. More gears, lighter, shinier. I remember that have a bike worth more than the car used to ferry it from place to place doesn’t matter. The look on the faces of these people tells me they are happy riders. Big grins from ear to ear, it’s not the bike that matters it’s what the bike lets you do and where it lets you get to.

We set off and soak up the sunshine. It’s a great day and I’m out with in the countryside with my beautiful girlfriend. I explain to her that some of the route were walking are Bridleways that I ride quite often. I’m checking the trail conditions and making mental notes as we walk. After today I’m going to need to be out here riding again soon. We don’t see any riders out on our chosen route. Plenty of walkers with their silly ski poles, but no riders with horrendous day-glo lycra. I’m reminded that the thing I enjoy about walking is that there are more opportunities to soak up the scenery, which in turn makes me realise why I love it out here. It’s not just the great trails, it’s the landscape they run across.

After lunch in Hope, as we sit outside the pub in the sun, a group of riders turn up having just finished their ride. I’m only half listening to Jo at some points in our conversation whilst I eavesdrop on the tales recollected from the days riding and past epics. More happy riders. I’m jealous and planning a day off work tomorrow. The weather has to hold! Tomorrow I’m going to go and ride some trails that I’ve never ridden before and my bike is definitely coming with me.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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