So a weekend away produced a proper mountain bike ride. Unknown countryside, map, some recommended sections and a route picked without any local knowledge. The result was several hours riding, some good bits and some bits you’ll never forget. I’m not sure it’s a good sign that the first trail you ride is a muddy uphill climb, followed by a wet moorland summit into a waterlogged downhill where you have to pedal to go downhill, but either way it kind of set the tone for what followed.
The mainstay of the ride turned out to be several miles of hike-a-bike. After much more map reading than is generally necessary, the right direction was generally found, but there was no sign of any trail. The absence of a trail led to a session of what could be accurately described as bog orienteering, because the mission became navigating wet upland without sinking upto your waist in peat mire and taking advantage of any hilly bits to spot for the next fence/wall and gate. Basically the bridleway was signposted excellently at these gates, it’s just that no one other than cows and sheep can have used that trail in between them in about the last 18 months and it’s been reclaimed by the land.
Clambering through one particularly nasty bit, with a bike on my shoulder and pushing another I slipped and fell scoring a handlebar in the jaw and a chainring in the arm. It was a nice touch. The former made chewing Tangfastics interesting and the latter is going to leave a nice scar. On top of the that the fantastic bruises from the NDE earlier in the week made technical riding a bit tender, but in all it was a great ride and I’d do it again…
Massive thanks to Tim and Bee at Northumberland Bike Breaks for a great weekend – can’t wait to go back and get the guided riding in next time!