Singletrack Forum escape the Xmas shopping ride - Dec 23 2001

In the early days of singletrackworld.com, a bunch of bored mountainbikers typed away while they probably should have been working. Singletrack introduced themselves to the North with a ride from their office front door. A more southern meeting appeared, the idea of locals showing you all their best trails soon formed. Of course the fact that they could all Quoff huge amounts of Ale too, were bandied about a weekend meet was formed.
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It was a virtual idea, a ride in the Dark Peak with a night stop over for several beers with a bunch of complete strangers who, as a bonus, might know how to ride a mountain bike. Ummm.
Jack and the Indian decided to check it out, It sounded so perfect we talked about making it an annual "Baa Humbug" pilgrimage every year to avoid the Xmas madness, before a wheel was turned.

The weather played its part in turning this into a truly memorable weekend.
Day 1 Saturday
Arriving into the Peaks park I begin to worry if the van would make it, the roads were covered with sheet ice and the forecast was for it not to get above freezing today. The snow covered peak of MamTor looked superb. A phone call home to boast of how I was going to have a white Xmas after all was perhaps not the wisest way to please her indoors, cheered her no end as she prepared for the usual family seasonal fighting, ha well.
Click all the photo's for a bigger version.
wesy climbs
Wesy grunts up the climb to MamTor, Guess who's already breezed up.
A big breakfast in the superb Hope cafe passed the time, people in MTB gear passed in and out, but no-one appeared to be looking for other strangers like me. I discovered the cafe also had rooms left, it sounded a better bet that our original out of town booking so I cancelled and moved us in local. Result, their breakfasts must be good.

Eventually a throng of riders appeared and in a true geeky style nobody talked to anyone, site nicknames bandied about, eventually I joined up with a small group prepared to get serious, whilst a slackers group headed off elsewhere.

6 of us finally head off to an almost immediate puncture, not looking good already. Monksie and Flash lead the way as I'm already finding a new bridleway route up MamTor. There is sheet Ice everywhere and its like riding on an Ice rink at times.

The Surge is out for its first peaks airing, and soon acquits itself as I fly up the climbs. The grip is superb from this perfect climbing tool, I even beat Super-fit Endurance racer Wesy up the hills.
Flash not dancing
Flash in full action up to MamTor.
The top by Hollins Cross affords us some extra spectacular views due to the snow dusting. Boy is it cold up here, as group rides with new found riding partners usually dictates there's plenty of chat breaks waiting for other riders. I'd come fully prepared though with a light fleece and the Pace Winteractive today, a combination never needed before or since, It was damn cold.
What a view of mamtor
MamTor ridge - we go that way.
The original planned route already looks in doubt as we slither across the ridge and on to the track over Rushops edge, its a bit slow for my liking, but I'll just have to learn to chill.
the riders soon get to know each other better, turns out though none of them are staying for the evening, where's all the hard drinking types I though then.
rushop start the slog
Rushops edge
I soon find out that I've been riding on the footpath on Rushops edge for the past few years as we take the correct bridleway right next door to it. Not a bad mistake as it would be a bog normally judging by all the frozen lake dancing we get up to.

It has to be said the skills of some riders needed a lot of work to cope with these conditions.
wesy the ice man
Wesy ice dances
The photo here clearly shows the conditions, that is bloody impossible. That track is usually a technical rock strewn descent with a light trickle of water running down it.
It was sheet ice, you could not pedal or even roll it in most places, Wesy actually planted the bike on me for grabbing that shot.
A great challenge to ride, speed near zero though and riders getting colder. The plan changed and after a perilous whizz down to Edale in which you had to grab loads of brake only on the sparse non-frozen bits, we ended up dropping to 3 riders. Someone felt Ill, others rode back with them.
Me Wesy and Simon carried on up to Hope cross and finally back into Hope on the downhill, a pathetic ride in the summer, ha well theres always a night out in the pub to talk about crashes and near misses later.

Getting back we find were sharing the accommodation with Sara, a Singletrack legend in her own right. She's just back from showing the slackers how to ride properly, one of here many assets, and demands we hit the pub without further delay, this is more like it. She's especially pleased to hear that the slackers group actually rode more miles than us mountainbike gods of skill. Indian finally arrives and off we go, just as the bar opens.

So the organisation all worked, here we are after a group ride on the arranged big pre Xmas night out............. all three of us in a deserted pub..... At least mine and Ian's evening looked up as Rothwild bikes Importer and one time Motorcycle racer, hero type Paul Iddon joined us, we had both watched him race as lads. He's a local in these parts and knows every stone of the trails, but we talked fast and expensive petrol stuff all night, as well as boring Sara rigid with our tales of Foreign MTB trips.
Day 2. The hangovers revenge
the first climb
The gang part 1.
Sunday dawned very blurry, at least we could face the superb breakfast, we would need it as their had been more snow and - 8 degrees C over night.

Loads of riders appeared today, including Cats mark and Singletrack's Chipps himself, the group set off all together in the scramble for grip up the Roman road out of Hope, heading for Hope cross.
the first climb more
And part 2.
That first climb is a great, fighting the hangover and the Ice, and trying to keep up with the local Rothwild guys. They all seem to ride them round here, and with good reason, they climb superbly.
Again there's plenty of standing around type stuff, as we wait for the stragglers, it soon becomes apparent that we are going to get very cold like this.

On the drop down on the roman road speed rise and carnage begins, sheet ice catches riders out at speed, blood and ripped jackets appear everywhere.
I'm on the wrong bike today as the full sus guys blitz me on the boulder strew descents, but then they arrive at the ice first so I get plenty of warning of the bad bits.
Indian not in action
Indian ahoy
Two groups again form, Paul takes on what turns out to be our regular Ladybower classic loop the pace hots up and the competition to clean the climbs even in these conditions is intense.
The grip in some places is amazing as the usual loose Peaks rocks are frozen in place, then the usually puddle laden sections are impossible to ride.
Epic photo way to early
Our epic photo
6 of us is a good size group, here we pose for our Epic photo way before MBR though of the idea, we didn't hang about on the descent either.
There's a house on the shore of the lake that sells food, we huddled up outside there in a lean-too scoffing heaps of Hot soup and huge lumps of bread, thawed the hands out a treat.
Final beauty
Gathering for the final blast
The climbs back over to Hope were tough with stuffed bellies, but the locals came up trumps by taking us up to the top of a new track for me. A narrow technical cracker that saw a few over the bars, a fitting finale as we sped into Hope. The other group had slogged back on the road from the lake and we all met up in the nearest pub. Comparing scars, their was only one winner, Mr. Iddon had lost a lot of skin on both sides of his body, nice to see someone who will never grow up.

Some nice food and the landlord trying to get us to wear silly hats rounded off the weekend nicely. I'd made some contacts that have held to this day. Others might have done to if they bothered to speak to their fellow riders.
Guess they should take a laptop out with them next time ;-)