It was “off to the Lake District” last weekend, for the annual Bowline MTB weekend. With a packed schedule, I opted to head up on Saturday morning, and arrived just in time to rendezvous with the others at Grizedale car park for a lap of the North Face Trail.
We stuck to the time-honoured group ride tactic of ‘ride a section, then stop for a chat’, with much discussion about the singletrack:fireroad ratio, and why it couldn’t be improved a little. I think there was only one crash, and no mechanicals, so that counts as a success.
After a nice sociable loop we retired to the cafe for a hot chocolate and a bite to eat. The sun shone and life was good, so I decided to leave the others to their afternoon of shopping/relaxing, and went for another lap. I hammered my way around this time, and in fairness the trail was much improved when taken at full pelt.
As I wound my way back through the visitor centre courtyard, I rounded a corner and came face-to-face with… some more Bowliners! It would have been churlish to call it a day then, so I turned around and set off for Lap 3 with Andy and Claudia. The day’s weather continued to be best described as ‘changeable’, with hail and rain showers scattered liberally amongst the bouts of sunshine.
By now it was fairly late in the day, and darkness overtook us with a decent distance still to go. We had a couple of headtorches, but it turns out that riding in the gloaming and then the plain-old-dark is actually really good fun! Accompanied by hooting owls, we tip-toed our way down trails which were just a slightly lighter-coloured line in the surrounding darker woodland floor, with the odd whoop, or shout of “Drop!”. Incredible fun, and nowhere near as scary as I’d anticipated.
Our personnel were scattered all over the place on Sunday, with a variety of plans in place. I didn’t fancy more slow rocky riding, so thought I’d take a cross-country drive and stop at Gisburn on my way home. Unfortunately I got to the top of the first hill to overhear a conversation about how Gisburn was really rocky and slow, just like Grizedale, and how Llandegla is the place to go for fast, fun, flowing trails! Nonetheless, that works for me in the long-term because I’m lucky enough to be able to get to Llandegla quite often (and it is really good fun).
Gisburn was indeed a little rocky, but the main issue was me being a bit sleepy after Saturday’s over-enthusiastic 30 miles. I got around though, and finished the day with a run down the Hope Line downhill run, which is definitely the best bit and well worth a look.