Mountain Biking Sunday 18th July

by Claire Richards

With a three week old mountain bike, and only a little experience of biking in Canada, I was apprehensive as I met with 12 keen, lycra clad and helmeted experts at Dovestones Reservoir car park.

John Lymer had devoted considerable time and effort in checking  circuits and producing maps. Two routes were drawn up, 15 miles and 26 miles. That was the information when I had telephoned John earlier in the week. Sunday morning in the car park; "Sorry ", said John, " the 15 mile has no takers ". Its much easier to follow others than to map read so it was the marathon  for me and it could be a long walk home. I thought this was a ski club, not an outing for quadriceps.

A prompt 10.30 a.m. start saw us trundling through Tunstead and Diggle (was this the English equivalent of the Pelaton?) and then up onto Standedge and the moors above the tunnel. The trail was an entertaining mixture of quiet country lanes, bridle paths and a bone crunching section across the moor. On several occasions a suddenly developed prone position allowed me to make a close study of the local flora and fauna. Nigel experienced a blow out and then executed a tyre change that even Michael Schumacher would have praised. So that is how you change a tyre. Pity it was done so fast I would have learnt more!.

John's planning ensured that the serious hills were pushable, and here there has to be a big "thank you" to the super fit (the other 11), who waited patiently for me to catch up. Perhaps they needed a breather. Wishful thinking? Onwards we cycled, through villages which were charming and full of local character. This was an area I had never visited but will tour again someday.

After 3 hours we stopped for lunch at the Swan Inn in Delph. A very welcome sight. Why did everyone else look so cool and collected, while I was sitting in a mist cloud and a waterfall of sweat?

After the refuelling stop we were off again and with the sun breaking through the day got better as each mile became longer. On through Roebuck, and somewhere, the outskirts of Oldham and  Uppermill. Here an ice-cream halt (essential) was called;" Thanks Mr. Brown ", and then, finally, via Greenfield to the reservoir. Return to base timed at 5.00 p.m., distance 26 miles. The walkers, or at least one of them, admitted to a more leisurely day with some time spent in a local hostelry. The excuse? "They (never me) were concerned your group might need help so someone had to be around to pick up the stragglers ... and it was very pleasant sitting in the sun."

Monday morning and two pain killers later I crawled into the car heading for work. Rehabilitation was rapid and the pain has gone. Once again thanks to John  for all his efforts and to the club members for being so helpful and tolerant. A great day out, a super ride and friendly company, and John did have an easier option for the less ambitious. Can someone less ambitious come along next time and can we have one a month please? I have bought in the tablets already.?

Next year's bike ride .....
Details are already emerging of next year's mountain bike ride. John proposes to start the ride in Kirkby Stephen (near Appleby) and follow a similar route to the one he did on May Bank holiday, when hardly another soul was seen. Imagine that in Derbyshire or the Lake District! The route is much flatter than many recent rides. One or two hills can be added, but only for those that want.

If you want to make a weekend of it, there's a camping and caravanning site that comes highly recommended (well John and Trudy like it) and there are also various bed and breakfasts in and around Kirkby Stephen.  So, note the date in your diary now - 16th July 2000, if you really like to plan ahead!