Pete suggested a report on the recent mtb rides so here goes. Hopefully Melv will add a photo or two shortly.
A couple of Sundays back (5 Sept) we gathered as agreed at the lights in Hebden. Nigel & I were at the main lights in the centre of town. Steve was at the pedestrian lights near the Co-op. Never mind. Its not a big place. We met up eventually.
Steve's plan was a start up Ragley Woods. It was fairly quiet and we even saw a couple of deer. Soon after that Nige then ran into a pair of walkers. It wasn't intentional, honest. Front wheel slipped out at the worst moment and the walking chap ended up unexpectedly cuddling our biking friend. If anything Ragley seems easier than the road alternatives, e.g. Mytholm Steeps, so these old tracks are quite handy.
Eventually we hauled our way onto the tops - only to take a steep descent, at Steve's insistence. "I know a good route", he said. Nige & I exchanged worried glances as we dropped very fast, on road and then again on a narrow track, pretty much all the way back down to Burnley Road, knowing that the height had to be regained and the cafe was now at least a half-hour further away.
This route of Steve's did involve some good riding though, so he was nearly forgiven - that is until Mr Hartley got himself in a jam. Dabbing a foot down Nige was surprised to find that he'd managed to step in a hole. A big hole. He toppled gracefully sideways into a hawthorn. While our chap was taking a sharp interest in this thorny problem, we of course clattered on in true Condor style. It was several minutes before he caught up, bloodied but unbowed.
Grinding back up to the windmills we crossed Long Causeway and headed out over 'Burnley Bumps' to Upper Gorple, then crossed Heptonstall Moor for some great singletrack.
Now, in recent years we've adopted a new verb, which had cause to be used again this day. To be 'Barkered' is to plan a ride where your ambition outdoes your ability, where you've spent the whole morning fighting a strong headwind and gone several miles further than is good for you, and then find the tank running a little empty while you are still a fair distance from home. Usually, this applies when Steve is feeling strong and has talked one or other of us into doing more than we really should have done. This time, however, Steve barkered himself. That extra loop must have overdone it, and the long climb up to Upper Gorple really took its toll. Climbing for ages on little more than willpower and wishful thinking, he was quite relieved to crest over the top and start crossing the moor, which is mostly downhill, and even more relived when we got to Towngate Tearooms for the obligatory butty (and a jam scone too I noted).
What was left? Well a rocket down Blue Pig, a toil up the toilet block to Pecket Well and home across Midgely Moor.
What's that? I missed a bit?
Well. I was waiting for Nige, who'd dropped back a bit on the uphill. Actually he'd been back on my wheel for some time without me noticing. Now that we'd regroup I declared "Right I'd better get on with it then", thinking I'd now fly down to Catherine House and make a decent job of the descent. Cue a trip over the bars two seconds later (onto soft heather). Oh well ...