After a great housewarming at Saskia & Nev’s the night before six couples (Rachel & Phil, Emma & Chris, Karen & Andy, Saskia & Nev, Sarah & Alan, Judith & me) and three singletons Lucy, Kev and Kickstand Steve all persuaded by the promise of a steady day with guaranteed sunshine and cake, began the ride with an easy roll along the side of Roundhill Reservoir before beginning to climb past Low and High Ash Head and then a push up High Ash Head Moor.
After the wide flattish track past the oddly named rock outcrop “Jenny Twigg and her Daughter Tib” (named after either two folklore witches that were turned to stone or a murderess and her accomplice daughter from Arkleside – take your pick), the earlier pushing was soon forgotten as we descended towards Bouthwaite. The descent continues on wide double track that is initially straight and fast with only rain bars to watch out for (and slow descending 4x4’s) but as it turns down past East Side Wood it steepens with twists and turns and a few looser sections to add to the excitement.
The descent’s only casualties were the two punctures both suffered by Emma with her skinny race tyres and Rachel’s cut knee and elbow from hucking practise while waiting for Emma– third try proved unlucky. (If you don’t know - hucking is a term commonly used in “Urban Mountain Biking” in reference to jumping up or off obstacles. Be it natural, man made, building materials, drop offs etc. People take their bikes and huck them off drops and gaps, “I was hucking a drop and biffed it.")
After Saskia had sprayed Rachel’s arm and leg yellow and applied the melolin plasters we set off along the road for coffee & cakes at How Stean, before the steep little road climb to Middlesmoor (where only really very bad children get bikes for Christmas) and then along the bridleway and great run down (loose, steep and rocky) to Scar House Reservoir. The only casualty this time was Sakia who had to take sudden evasive action to avoid some walkers – they must have been grateful because they helped her back to her feet! Emma also had a crash on this ride and we think it was on this descent too – the girls were doing well today!
Crossing the dam wall we picked up the Nidderdale Way heading east and hoping to spot the bridleway over South Haw. Rachel decided it was an appropriate place to have another sit down and flopped off her bike going uphill – not too good for her cut knee – ouch! Having reccied this the day before we knew it was hard to find but this didn’t stop us cycling straight past the turn. At this point, six of the group decided to head off over Pott Moor and enjoy the long downhill route back to the cars while we turned around, found the track, and enjoyed the unusual descent through the heather to Steel House Gill and the bridleway to Gollinglith Foot. One last climb followed by a brief descent led us back to the cars and cake – Happy Birthday to me!