On Monday Chrissie gave me my, very early, 60th birthday pressie (my birthday's in October). Following a heavy hint from me, I'm now the proud owner of a shiny new mountain bike. So, since I already have a Marin hybrid cycle as well as MBM (my beloved motorcycle; please keep up) that makes three two-wheelers so ... six wheels!
I've never owned a proper mountain bike before, but really fancied trying out this new, to me, outdoor activity. I took advice from my pal Hamish, who's seriously into off-road cycling and, armed with this and a little internet research we went off to the Bike Factory in nearby Whaley Bridge. There, Rob echoed all of Hamish's pointers and we came away with a Whyte 801. It's the lowest spec bike in Whyte's range but highly recommended for a beginner like me. With an alloy frame, front suspension, 27 gears and nice big, squishy tyres it looks the business and, hopefully will suit me well.
Here's a pic of the beautiful machine:
And here's me trying hard to look the part as I bimble around the cul-de-sac:
I spent Monday and Tuesday afternoons pottering around some local bridleways, trying my best to get used to the feel of the bike and today, Wednesday, I dragged my mate Bernie out on a ride I found in a book of Peak District cycle routes. He really should know me better by now, but agreed anyway.
We parked in Hathersage and set off along the road to Grindleford, then uphill to the Fox House Inn. From here, a short way up the road to Sheffield, we headed off up Houndkirk Road, a green lane favoured by trail riding motorbikers. Not been up there with MBM yet but who knows; only walked about half of it. Anyways, it's a short pull up to the summit; tricky for me as a first-timer and even harder for Bernie on his hybrid, but we managed. Then the real fun, thundering down the rest of the lane was a real blast and gave a taste of why mountain bikers get so taken with the sport.
Here's Bernie, powering up to the high point of Houndkirk Road:
What a star!
Leaving the lane behind it was then around the lanes to Redmires Reservoirs then up another byway to Stanedge Pole. It was a bit of a slog up the hill but Bernie gave of his best:
While I was content just to pose at Stanedge Pole, musing on why they couldn't agree on how to spell Stanage in days gone by:
Note my attempt to look the real deal with my long merino wool undies under my shorts. Sad or what?
And then after a short, downhill respite we hit the craziness that is the bridleway beneath Stanage (or Stanedge) Edge. Can't see how anyone could cycle down, or up, here, it being a mess of large boulders and steps. I carried my beautiful bike over the worst bits before we hit the freshly graded surface which took us down to the tarmac at Dennis Knoll. After a quick choccy break we decided to call it a day and scurried back down the tarmac to Hathersage. A pint of coffee and excellent flapjack in Outside's cafe served well to refresh us, having covered around 16 miles in 3 hours. Not bad for amateurs (and old farts, to boot).
Hopefully more old fart MTB fun will follow.