Honoured to feature on the Lessons in Badassery Blog recently!
This year, Ride Sheffield changed the format and venue of their Annual social a little. The venue was switched to the Showroom workstation, and as well as the usual update on news, trail work and access issues, the evening included a Shred talk/panel discussion on the future of MTB with various different folks from the local riding scene and bike industry.
The panel was made up of;
Bex Baraona - Ibis Enduro Team racer and currently ranked number 5 in the EWS World rankings
Josh Lewis - Santa Cruz Enduro Team, 50:01 world traveller and rider extraordinaire
Jordan Gould - Biketrack chief designer and digger and former 4X World cup racer
Duncan Philpott - Photographer of World Cup DH, EWS, and many other events
Jon Dallow - Sheffield city Council, instrumental in driving The Outdoor City project and mountain biking in Sheffield further
And me! Owner and Chief Guide at Endless Trails MTB and Juliana Bicycles Ambassador
The new format and venue seemed to be popular and there were roughly 130 folks who came along, from local land managers, racers, enthusiasts, trail builders, and members of the Sheffield mountain bike massive.
Topics such as the issues around unsanctioned trail building as well as how the MTB trade can support mountain bike advocacy aroused some heated discussions but it was great to see so many people engaged in what is going on in the Mountain Bike community and keen to push things forward and improve the riding scene even further in Sheffield.
Thanks to Ride Sheffield for the opportunity to be involved, and also for inviting me to be an ambassador this year!
Speaking at the FINDRA Everyday Adventure session at Kendal Mountain Festival 2018.
It doesn’t often happen that when you plan something a long way in advance, everything falls into place and you’re blessed with the most perfect conditions you could have wished for. Back in October though, we were lucky enough that one of those rare occasions occurred.
I had been trying to sort a trip with Pete and Rosie from online WideOpen magazine for a while, but with all of us leading busy lives, it just didn’t happen through the Summer. We pencilled in a date for late October, and in my mind I was already envisaging murky grey wet days and a shortish ride with the emphasis on searching out some of the Lake District’s best tea and cake.
As the date drew closer, the weather forecast looked suspiciously optimistic. Bright sunny skies, a daytime temperature of 17-18 degrees, and an overnight one of no less than 15. Anyone who has visited the Lake District knows that the forecast in October does not often look like that! With the promise of exceptionally clear skies, and the the tail end of the Draconid meteor shower, there was no other option….we HAD to plan a 2 day epic taking in a bivvy somewhere high to make the most of the opportunity!
With vehicles parked at either end of our route, we set off from Glenridding, tackling the beast that is Helvellyn for a warm-up. You could have been forgiven for thinking it was the middle of Summer as we sweated our way up in the warm sunshine and sat enjoying spectacular views on the summit in nothing but short sleeve shirts and shorts. A classic Lakeland tech-fest descent followed, before we headed over another pass on one of the few trails in the Lakes I’d never actually ridden before. It was a hideous ordeal of a climb none of us probably want to ever repeat! Thankfully the dry Summer meant the ride from the top was rideable, I don’t want to imagine what it would have been like if it was wet! Needless to say, this trail won’t be featuring on any of our tours in the future!
A long ride out through a valley eventually brought us to the pub in Borrowdale, hours after we had planned to be there, all feeling fairly ravenous and suitably tired. Bikes were abandoned outside as the priority became devouring large quantities of food to fuel us for the next leg of our journey.
We left the pub in darkness, working our way up to yet another pass. It was a long old slog, but the mild temperatures and incredible starry skies took our minds off the effort required to reach the top. It was amost 10pm when we finally made it to the spot we had picked to bivvy, a truly epic day out! Lying cocooned inside bivvy bags, we watched meteors overhead, and the clearest views I have had for ages of the Milky Way and billions of stars above, before sleep came to weary eyes and bodies. It was a pretty special spot to spend a night.
The next morning brought the return of drizzly and windy weather, and feeling the effects of the previous day’s epic, we were all keen to take the shortest route to the cafe. This was still a good few hours of slippery sketchy fun away though! We slithered our way down rocky steps and along rough tracks, dreaming of bacon sandwiches (even the vegetarians amongst us!), and weren’t disappointed when we got there.
Like all good epics, the story didn’t end there, as we returned to one vehicle with a flat tyre, and a realisation that the keys to the second were in the other van we had left at the start of the route the previous day!
All in all it was a great couple of days and fantastic to share it with others as enthusiastic and keen for an adventure as myself.,,,the Lakes never disappoints, especially when conditions are as perfect as this!
All credits for the fantastic photos above go to Pete Scullion, cheers Pete!
Stories from our Summer Bikepacking courses!
This year has seen the first of our Bikepacking for first timers courses run in the beautiful Peak District, with both trips being a great success, but very different!
The first trip took place in early August, right in the middle of the UK heatwave. Six intrepid ladies headed off from Bamford, after a morning spent loading up the bikes with luggage and working how to attach handlebar and seatpost bags. The weather was incredible, and the trails as dry as they ever get! It was so warm that almost everyone took the opportunity for a swim in the river part way through the day, followed by ice-creams at a cafe before we headed up to our bivvy spot for the night.
A warm, still, clear night made for perfect temperatures to practice setting up tarps, and to sit around and chat over dinner cooked on the stoves and a mug or two of red wine!
Our second day saw us finish off our route, again in perfect sunny conditions, finishing at the cafe for a well earned lunch. There were big smiles all round and plans for future bikepacking trips already being made by several in the group, great to hear!
The second trip in October couldn’t have been more different! Torrential rain eventually stopped just before we set out, but wet trails and a cold wind meant everyone was glad of the hills to warm up on. We picked a more sheltered spot for our bivvy, and by this point it had turned into a beautiful clear evening thankfully.
Temperatures plummeted overnight though, the first night of the year below zero degrees! We awoke to a frosty morning and were glad to have stuffed extra clothes into the bike luggage to stay warm. The sun rose and eventually warmed us up though as we set off after coffee and porridge, and it was a day where it was lovely to be outside.
Everyone finished feeling proud of themselves to have not only survived their first Bikepacking trip, but one where conditions were definitely testing…future trips will seem like a breeze for this hardcore bunch!
We’re already excited about next year’s trips, with dates on the website now, and trips to the Peak District, Lake District, and Yorkshire Dales on the cards. Due to popular demand, some of these will be open to all too, not just the girls!
At the end of April, Julia and her partner Tom headed up to the Lake District to meet up with Alex Feechan, founder of FINDRA Clothing, and photographer Chris Blott.
Julia has been a FINDRA ambassador since last year, and was excited to be asked by Alex if she would like to take part in a photoshoot to get some "real life" shots of the new products in this year's FINDRA range. With a new range of Men's clothing launching very soon, Tom was delighted to be asked to come along too, having been jealous of Julia's beautiful merino kit throughout last year!
FINDRA are a small but growing company based in the Scottish Borders, producing beautifully designed and made, functional merino clothing for outdoor activities. The colours of this year's range look awesome, and the garments feel as lovely to wear as ever. They are the kind of clothes you feel work well not only on the bike or out running or walking, but look smart enough to be sen in the pub and cafe after too...perfect!
Basing ourselves around Garburn Pass and the pretty village of Kentmere in the South Lakes, Chris was able to get some beautiful photos whilst Tom and Julia ran, rode, and stopped to admire the views in this scenic valley. The weather was perfect, not too warm, but with incredible light filtering through the clouds to highlight the huge array of colours on the surrounding fells.
If you are looking for some high quality, beautifully designed and made merino clothing for biking year round in the UK, then take a look at the FINDRA range via their website, or pop into the Design Headquarters and store in Innerleithen!
It was a tough bunch of adventurous ladies who joined us last week for our Helvellyn First Timers women's guided ride!
Despite incredible weather just a few days before, the day of the trip saw a return to Wintery conditions on the fells, and so the plan for the day had to be adjusted accordingly. Armed with many extra layers, full waterproofs, plenty of food and water, we set out on the ride, learning about the best way to carry bikes for the hike-a-bike sections on the way, chatting about this that and everything in the way that a bunch of like-minded girls do when they get together for an adventure!
A mixture of riding, pushing and carrying took us up to Sticks Pass, at this point, still relatively sheltered from the bitterly cold wind. But from here on up things got tough! Heavy hail showers and a bitterly cold breeze pushed everyone to their limits, and glimpses of the views were only momentary as the clouds lifted every so often. Spirits remained high though, with everyone supporting each other and making sure no-one felt left behind.
Unfortunately, as we reached the ridge leading up Lower Man, about 100m vertically, and less than a KM short of the summit, the wind picked up dramatically, gusting to about 70mph, and knocking several of the group off their feet! The rest of us were left bracing ourselves, bikes flying horizontally out from us in the air!
It was just too dangerous to continue at this point, with the consequences of the strong gusts blowing someone off the ridge not worth thinking about, and the extreme windchill causing already wet, cold and tired people to quickly become hypothermic. It wasn't to be on that day, but the girls showed themselves how tough they are, and I have no doubt they will all be back and up on the summit in the future now they have proved to themselves they are tough enough to tackle the climb! Hopefully with better views as a reward too!
The descent was a "Get down and to the cafe asap" kind of ride, and well-earnt after the effort of the climb up. Fast, loose and rough trails saw everyone hurtling down to the shelter and warmth of the valley below, and once we were down, it was hard to believe just how grim conditions had been up at the top!
It's funny how a big cup of tea, some warm food, and clean dry clothes can quickly make you forget the conditions you've just battled through, and there was a definite buzz in the air in the cafe as talk turned to plans for everyone's future adventures!
A great adventurous day out despite the weather, with a fabulous bunch of hardcore ladies.
One of the girls who came along, Zara, writes a blog as Bikes, Boards and Blethers, and has written some words about her experience. Read it here!
If you missed getting a spot on this trip and would like to join us on the next one, we'll be running another on Wednesday 25th July...Book soon by clicking on the link below as places are already filling up! We can't guarantee the weather, but we can guarantee an adventure!