Epic Ride (OMG i’m in trouble ride)

This is a bit of a long story so bear with me.

Whilst working on the M62 I decided I fancied doing some off road riding and making my way home on the bike! (38 miles as the crow flies over the Pennines)

My preparation led me to pack the following essentials:

  • Fleece jacket
  • woolly hat
  • change of jersey
  • change of socks
  • change of gloves
  • survival bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • puncture repair kit
  • spare tubes x2
  • tyre levers
  • co2 cartridge
  • co2 air gun (careful it gets cold enough to stick to your fingers – ouch)
  • Mars bar x3
  • lucozade gels x3
  • 3litres of water camel bak
  • 1 bottle of SIS energy drink
  • knee pads

Basically enough stuff so that my bag was commuting heavy!

I set off late at 12:30pm and it gets dark at 5:30 and I had to do 36 miles to my planned train station to get home.

I set off,  and to cycle down the pennine way from the office to Marsden should have been 8 miles but In my haste I went the wrong way and added 4 miles onto this route, I had not taken into account the geography of where i was riding, between the office and the start of the trail proper is 8miles of hills and valleys….. knackered before I even hit dirt!

After going to the wrong way for a couple of miles and then going back I eventually found the start of the Kirklees way at about 3pm (alarms bells should have been ringing)

After 2 hours riding mostly up hill and then a mad downhill I found myself having a break at the side of the reservoir my GPS told me I was at 80ft above sea level. (this will be significant later) I’d not eaten anything yet so I quickly troffed on Mars bars and an energy gel and off again upwards, forever upwards, past reservoir after reservoir, slowly oh it was ever so slow and painful! My legs were screaming at me, I wanted to go faster in my head I could imagine my self up out of the saddle dancing up the hills but reality was very different.

It was up hill forever up hill and by the time I was 500m from the A635 I was spent! Walking time!

More Mars bar and drink and then I had options!

  1. Go on the road to Holmfirth and have a steady ride along the country lanes homeward.
  2. Follow the plan and head further along the Pennine way up and over the hills Off road!

What did I do?

Off road of course!

Now the Pennine way at this point is consists on a long series of large pieces of stone placed one after another in a nice smooth path.

Excellent I thought racing along quite happily feeling the wind rushing past me, Metallica blasting in my ears.

The front suspension was working over time like a blur, i was out of the saddle balancing, pedalling, switching lines it was great fun for about 5 Min’s until one of the stones, (a clear non conformist) decided to stand up and be noticed.

I did not notice it. I believe the following events then happened….

Wheel strikes stone. Stone does not move, Wheel becomes pivot, Bike & rider rotate forward, Rider goes arse over tit & lands arms & head first.

OUCH!!!

Result = bruised ego, bruised & cut arms, broken phone. Up we get & on we go. Unfortunately due to the broken phone i didn’t take many photo’s. (so I’ve done some research & the photo’s here are ones collected from the web of the route i took)

Now the path went up and down and up and down, slippery and dry, slimy and not, Over brooks and streams (God bless Goretex boots) and then the climb proper started, after about 300m I could no longer ride so walking was in order.

After about a further 200m walking with bike was impossible so I was carrying it!

Man carrying bike surely there’s something wrong here!

My legs started to cramp up with the weight of my bag and bike and the constant up hill climbing to the point where I had cramp in my quads and hamstrings, calfs and groin and could no longer walk or stand and promptly collapsed on the floor on the bike and lay for a while whilst the pain in my…… well whole body subsided.

mmm I think i may be in trouble.

It was only a few hundred metres more to the top and having had a drink and a rest I pushed on. I will conquer this hill! I can’t stay where i am it’s 4pm and I need to keep moving.

Eventually At the top the view was amazing.

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Top of the hill.

Height = 2958ft above sea level.

Total gain 2878ft

Down Hill…..ish

Now at the top is very boggy and it is only thanks to the pathway that i is passable, So off I trundled glad to be on the bike again, glad to have the wheels turning and the cramp in my legs residing, it is strange that my muscles are so tuned to cycling that I can ride with no pain but as soon as i was walking it hurt like hell!

The path was once again ridable, a couple of miles of solid pathway and sandy track whipped past quite quickly and this did wonders for my spirits.

A puncture repair brought about a sensible rest time and my legs Mars bar and gel.

Water running a bit low and I am literally in the middle of no where!

Tube replaced & inflated off we go!

Shortly after this the path stopped. It just stopped and all that was before me was a tiny rutted track in the middle of the peat bogs. Completely unridable so i was on foot again.

The next 7-8 miles where just rutted track full of big rocks, peat bogs, cliffs and other assorted unrideable obstacles. so i walked, ran, fell, carried the bike, pushed & dragged it along only very occasionally riding for the odd few metres here and there when the ground hardened up enough to all it and there were less rocks!

I am not ashamed to admit that at this point I was a bit scared. I had been going for 4.5 hours on 3 mars bars and a couple of energy gels, I was trekking (slowly) through peat bog, it was getting dark and I was miles from any sort of civilization!

The peat bogs eventually subsided and solid paths became the order of the day but it was such as narrow rock path usually dangerously close to the edge of the cliffs that riding a bike was impossible or very sketchy.

My only saving grace at this point was my GPS. I had sensible entered all the way points for my route into it and zip tied it to the stem of my bike as a compass to follow!

Mile and terrifying mile slipped past as it got darker and darker the possibility of being stuck on the moors over night was becoming a serious reality!

But I knew Crowden was ahead, (Crowden is a Youth Hostel on the Barnsley to Manchester A628 road) I eventually climbed high enough and rounded a corner to see my salvation. Hope returned and with it a renewed desperation to get out of here.

I pushed on and on, walking, slipping, falling I was becoming so tired I was falling over my own feet, My legs were in a constant state of tension always just a slight over stretch from excruciating cramp.

The last hill on foot had been conquered and I could see the lights of the buildings I could see where I was going, it was just so far away.

Downhill was a shock to the system, slipping down rocks and every step hammered my battered legs and body.

After what seemed like an age alone I saw a human being coming the other way! We stopped and chatted for a moment, he seemed quite suprised to see me in such as state, he wished me well and off up the hill he went.

The ground eventually levelled out some what and I was back on 2 wheels for the 1st time in ages.

The problem with being shattered and in pain is that you forget to consentrate and when on a mtb doing this you fall off!

So in the next mile to the road I fell off 5 times twice doing a fantastic endo as the front wheel dropped off a step and I just followed it!

I have never been so happy to see tarmac in my entire life! Really roads! ROAD!!

It was time to take stock it was now 6:30pm, it was dark, i was out of food and water, I had cramp constantly in the fronts & backs of my legs. Options:

  1. Press on in the dark to Edale & the train station over the moors
  2. Bail and get rescued.

Choice was simple. HELP!!!

Unfortunately there is no phone signal at where I was so I had to ride on and get to some where that I could be picked up so I had to push on for 7.5miles to the pub. I eventually acquired some phone signal and managed to get hold of my Dad to pick me up.

I arrived at the Dog & Partridge pub at about 7:30 in pieces. I fell onto the bar begging for food & drink. A pint of coke, pint of lager and plate of chips later I felt a bit more alive. The open fire in the pub was the best thing i’d seen all day and slowly warmed my frozen core.

Dad arrived an hour later and carried me home to my beloved mocking wife and between them they ripped it out of me for being so stupid and proceeded to fall about laughing as i told them the above story.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I think of it now as a test of my metal, and as i survived and got through i guess I’ll probably do it again…… just not yet.

The Route:

pennine-way-epic1

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2 Responses

  1. Sheesh! What an adventure! I think I’d be a bit scared, but hey, now you have quite the story!

  2. Careful in the hills fella people have been known to never come back down!

    Good write up though!!

    Fat Lad

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