My last post on Friday suggested that Chris and I rode at least the Crackpot loop from the Dales Bike Centre on Saturday. Well, about 10 minutes after I posted, Chris arrived at my home, we swiftly transfered his stuff to my car and off with shot. Well, for about 20 minutes until we hit traffic at Nottingham, Mansfield, Chesterfield, Sheffield, you get the picture. Things weren't looking good for early arrival and pub meal up in Grinton. However, after passing Sheffield, suddely the traffic dispersed and we motored on through the Dales.
On arrival at about 8, a quick call to the Dales Bike Centre's owner got us the key, and entry to a 4 bunk room - luckily we managed to get this to ourselves as there was only two other people in the whole place that night. A quick walk upto the Bridge Inn got us some decent pub grub washed down with my first Oxford Gold and a Thatchers Gold.
After an early to bed, and rise, we enjoyed a nice bacon sarnie for carb loading before setting off on the bikes about 9:30. The bridleway that parrallels the River Swale was easy to follow, although provided some fun where the Swale has broken it's banks and swalled some of the path. Water was getting on for a foot deep; great fun to ride through, though hub bearings probably didn't feel that way.
Only once the river is left does the real work begin, climbing (sometimes riding, sometimes pushing) through Crackpot, then Summer Lodge and finally to the singletrack road at the top of the hill. As we were knackered at this point, it seemed a good idea to break for lunch. Bad mistake, gloves off meant hands got very cold due to driving wind, ~5 degrees temp and drizzle. Infact, it took a good 45 minutes for them to finally warm enough to use brakes properly and getting feeling back into them.
Unfortunately, about 2 miles after the road section, we took a slight detour from the plan; following the first distinct path up towards High Harker Hill. This was a mistake, it was not the bridleway, but rather a grouse shooting track, and wound steeply for 1/2 a mile before terminating at a peat bog. We didn't want to backtrack and lose the height we had gained, so we treked for about a mile across the bog to re-join the bridleway correctly to High Harker Hill.
From here, some decent fast rocky, then moorland descents contoured down the hill, finally arriving at the road we had driven down the night before. A sharp climb up this took us to a fairly boring farmland descent back to Grinton.
Once back, we used the bike wash facilities, scrubbed up and left with cameras, bound for Reeth for some photography. This didn't really work out, although we did visit a great outdoors shop - Swaledale Outdoors. They had a good mix of lightweight clothes and equipment and tried on some Inov-8 Terroc 330s - my next walking trainers when I start wearing trainers again (maybe next spring).
After the walk around Reeth, we returned to the bike centre, jumped in my car and headed off to Hawes for a curry, stopping off at the large cairn on Buttertubs for some late evening photography. I enjoyed my Chicken Tikka Saag and the return to the Bridge Inn for a pint of Crag Rat and a whiskey. We returned to the bike centre early, maybe 10ish, to grab some sleep before getting up at 3:30am Sunday to beeline over to Stanage Edge in the Peak District to get some sunrise photos - much better results than Saturday's photographic exploits. Then home.