I had planned the ride as my Trans Wales buddy and I never get to ride together and this was mid way for both of us. But work commitments meant he couldn’t come> I still wanted to see how I’d cope not having ridden off road much this year and as Duncan and Simon wanted to come along, we planned to do 2 loops. The first was Jacobs ladder (14 miles) and the second was around Ladybower reservoir (28 miles) meeting the Nemesis roadies for lunch in Edale.
It seemed such a good plan at the time.!
We all met at Duncan’s just a little after 6am, loaded kit and ourselves into the cars and sped off, hoping to get to Edale and RTR for 9am
En-route, we just had to have coffee too.
Making good time, we stopped off to the necessary caffeine fix for 30 minutes. This also gave Duncan a chance to wake up before the serious business started.
Simon and Duncan were following me and in turn, I followed my sat-nav all the way to Hathersage.
Parking up, the guys had a curious look on their faces. “Is this the same Jacobs Ladder we did a few years back..?” say’s Duncan.
Oop’s. Good job Simons sat-nav was on the ball.
So 15 minutes later, it’s 9am and we’re finally in the right place.
Duncan leaps into action (not really) and lifts his frame out of Simon’s car only to find the rear mech hanging in the air. The hanger is bust.
It’s only 9. Where on earth will we find a bike shop open with a replacement?
Iphone to the rescue and after a rally drive down to Hope, an hour and a bit later the guys were back with a fixed bike.
Kitting up, we set off, now it’s about 10:15 or so. No way we’ll meet the roadies for lunch but no signal and no way to contact Bill.
Not having had my Garmin 800 for long, it took a while to orientate myself to it. We had a 100yd or so road detour but were soon on track.
Fresh from the off, It was a real leg burner start as we climbed from Barber Booth to the top of Mam Tor.
This was the start of our off road expedition.
Still climbing we followed the route well. The tracks were dry but loose and quite sizeable rocks from time to time.
Heading in the general direction of Hayfield, We passed a bunch of quad bikers and one is upside down..! They say they’re fine and what could we do anyway, so we steam on past. Duncan comes passed me like a man on a mission, jumping and riding across terrain I am gingerly plucking my way through, when “BANG”. It’s a flat.
No prob’s. It’s a quick change, new tube in and pump it up. Argh, the pumps stuffed. Eventually we get some air into the tub, but it’s escaping quicker that we can put it in.
Tube 2 and 2 CO2’s later, it’s up. We roll all of 5 feet and the rear’s flat! Doh….
Running out of tubes, Duncan puts his last one in. We whack in some air and finally we’re off. It’s down hill and we’re going well. Duncan in the lead again but I can see the rear getting flatter by the second.
We stop at the gate (oh there were so many..) and just like Paul Daniels, he pulls out another tube!
Fixed and inflated for more than 10 minutes, we’re off again, rolling down toward Hayfield. In fact the track is so nicely rolling that we completely miss a left turn somewhere. The 800 doesn’t give directions when off road, it just say’s you’re off course. Great!. How about telling me how to stay on course!
So we ride into Hayfield and it’s about mid day.
The Garmin says Jacobs Ladder is here but Simon and Duncan don’t recall it being here. A bit disorientated, we ask a local.
Not speaking the local lingo, I volunteer Simon. “Eah now, you’re away of the way, it’s up and up and left and …..” What? Now I’m totally confused.
He said we should aim for a reservoir so off we went. Getting to the end of the track, it’s decision time. Left which looks right and easier or right which is just a wall of grass.
The Garmin said right and up but I could see the guys weren’t convinced. Still, we set off in the company of the noisiest horse riding bunnies I’ve ever heard. Well, one was a bunny, the others had cart horses. (tee hee)
Duncan’s getting a bit stuffed now and after riding some of it, decides to walk the when it gets really steep.
Getting to the top, I took a moment to look around. If we had taken the easy route, we’d have been so wrong. Heading well away from Edale out onto the moors on tough walking paths. When Simon and Duncan got to the top, I showed them and whilst they were still scowling a bit, I think they appreciated the lesser of 2 evils.
Yes, we were off piste and winging it with only the Gramin to guide us, but I had a plan and could see how we could get back on track. We just had to stick with the path we were on and not miss the next path left.
We eventually summated and found the left and then, hey presto, the Pennine bridleway was right in front of us.
I’d like to think Duncan was totally amazed by this and needed a lie down in the heather. Or maybe he just fell off. But Simon and I could see the gate and nothing was holding us up.
Regrouping on track, it was up again. Rocks, rocks and more rocks.
Also, it’s getting warm now. Garmin recorded 29.8.
Riding/walking to the summit, we’re finally at the top of Jacobs ladder. Oh boy it’s step and loose and rocky.
Duncan’s gone. Luvin’ it. I’m picking my way down and Simons somewhere behind. Well I think he is. I’m too scared to look.
Running low on adrenalin and having to dodge the walkers, we arrive at the bottom. Finally, Duncan’s smiling.
Rolling into Edale on tarmac, spirits are lifting and the end is near.
We had planned on doing another loop but it was getting late and legs were tired so we gave up on that. Lady luck just wasn’t with us and pushing our luck was just not a good idea.
We settled for coke and cake in the café and called it a day. Oh yeah, and thanks guys for leaving us with such a lovely selection.!
3,100 feet of climbing
2 hours riding time (about 3 hours not riding time!)
But heaps of fun
For me, I came to the ride as a pre-test for my Wales mission and it ticked all the boxes
We may not have done all we planned and we may have got lost, but we had fun and a real experience.
Thanks Duncan and Simon. Here’s to the next time.