Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Yorkshire Tundra

Initially I wasn't sure if I'd made a mistake in suggesting biking today, especially with Rachael heading up to play in the snow on the Lake District fells, which sounded a good option. But I'd promised Steve I'd ride today, and besides -3 isn't that cold, is it....

-3 and icy at the start

Colourful sheep
We set off from Helwith Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales and within 2 minutes I couldn't feel my fingers or toes as we skated around on icy roads, however Steve had factored in lots of uphill so we quickly warmed up as we headed towards Malham Tarn up some bridleways I'd never ridden on before.

Wish I had spikes on the tyre...
Once in the 'high country' the roads were completely covered in a heavy frost and dusting of snow which luckily was on the whole grippy, and very beautiful. We were even able to help free a completely stuck car who'd managed to get wedged sideways on the narrow snowy road.

The tundra.....

Quick break at Malham Tarn
There were a few folk walking at Malham Tarn, and the odd bike track but we didn't see another cyclist. We dropped back via Stainforth, and a 'new' section of the Pennine Bridleway I hadn't seen before.

Don't touch the brakes...

Another fun section that was surprisingly fast and fun
Sadly we didn't see any polar bears, wolves or arctic fox, but we did really enjoy the 18 mile ride on the Yorkshire Tundra.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beloved Bowland

When I should have been getting 'sorted' for Christmas, instead I 'reconnected' with the local area - Bowland. Firstly cycling in the morning, which was great until I strayed onto the route of a classic car rally.

Beloved Bowland Hills
Not sure why most of them felt the need to beep their horn before zooming past me far too closely and then engulfing me in toxic heavy metal exhaust fumes. At one point I recall shouting 'you may have a classic car, but learn to drive the damn thing...'. Most of the owners/drivers looked as infirm as their vehicles, which I guess explains a lot.

The fence line leads me home
Not to out done in the afternoon I stretched out the legs and walked to Abbeystead and back and didn't see another person. Now, must get on the internet and get the Christmas shopping done....

Sunday, 30 November 2014

7 Stanes - Dalbeattie

A great mini adventure today, heading to Scotland with Rachael to mountain bike. We decided upon Dalbeattie, as I hadn't been to this trail for years and Rachael had never been.

Great banter (and caffeine) saw us there quickly, but we both found the 24km red route really hard! Not sure if we were just being wimps but we had to side step a lot of the countless wet rocky bits, and I didn't dare try the infamous 'slab' as it was wet and completely coated in pine needles (it would have ended badly I'm sure).

We vowed to return on a drier day when we both felt more in 'the groove' to try the technical bits again. A fun, restorative day out :-) .

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 - lots to learn!

I had a day off mid-week which fitted in nicely with a day out in Kendal and I went to 2 photo/film workshops. Great fun, the 3 hour workshop on sound production blew my mind - so much to learn!

Learnt loads and enjoyed the day immensely, but the biggest thing for me was actually learning what depth of field (DOF) is and how to use it! 

Shallow DOF - leaves in focus, background blurred
To every other photographer in the world I'm guessing this is very basic, but I didn't really understand it or how it can be achieved until today. I could achieve a similar affect in some of my photographs before, but I was cheating and relied upon luck. So pleased, here are a couple of (boring) photographs to prove it!!

Deeper DOF, leaves still in focus, but so is background (well nearly!)
I also went to 'The Best of KMF' on Sunday night, and the best film in the selection I saw was 'Valley Uprising' - amazing film about the history of climbing in Yosemite.  Here's the trailer:

Also the biggest release this year that sadly I didn't catch was Jeff Lowe's Metanoia, a documentary about the life and climbs of the legendary US alpinist, who is sadly now terminally ill and was flown over to the Kendal festival by Lowe Alpine for the films release. Jeff's climbing piece de resistance was on the North Face of the Eiger. Climbed in 1991, and still unrepeated, Metanoia – graded VII, 5.10, M6, A4 – is the hub of this biographical documentary.

Here' a trailer, I hope I get to see it soon:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Scottish Border Reivers

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo–Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century, and they raided the entire border country. Their heyday was perhaps in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stewart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor Dynasty in England. I guess stuff has changed a little since these times, but if the Scottish independence vote had gone the other way who knows whether tales of further raiders would exist in the times of Salmond and Cameron!!

The start - through nice forest (uphill)

Breaking out onto the moor, still good tracks, but still a lot of climbing to go

I love the borders area as its very beautiful, but also has diverse scenery. We had a great few days in the borders, starting at Peebles. It would have been easy to take the mt bikes to Glentress or Innerleithen to bike on the manufactured 7 Stanes trails and although fun, it would have been busy, and we wanted to see a quieter, wilder side.

Abi stuck crossing a bog!

Toadstool and Abi!
With this in mind we decided to head up the Three Brethren from Selkirk. It was a frosty start as we set off on the long climb up through the forest and then open moor, but it soon warmed up. There was some pushing to get to the top at 464m, but it was well worth it for the stunning views. 

Top of the three Brethren

At last some downhill on the Southern Upland Way
What followed was a stunning section that undulated but stayed high on the broad ridge - and all on good tracks. Looking back the Three Brethren soon disappeared in the distance. Annoyingly I realised at this point that I'd left my shades on the grass when I'd stopped to take pictures of a toadstool!! I didn't really have enough time to go back and get them (or the energy!).

Lunching on Brown Knowe
I final slog to the 523m high point of Brown Knowe, which borders Innerleithen and Minch Moor. We lingered here eating lasagne pies (only in Scotland - but very good) and drinking in the peace and dramatic views, knowing that once we set off again it would all be lost as it was now all downhill.

Miles of downhill 

The descent was mega! Miles of easy but fun single track that gradually lost height down an old drovers road before spitting you out (covered in mud) down a final steep track back into civilisation. The amble back to the car on quiet roads past 'sacked' castles was nice too, and we made it with about 45 mins daylight to spare. We saw a few walkers today, but no one else on a bike. A great route choice. 

Last bit of fun before the road

Castle ruin on the way back
Much later we were eating game pie at a pub in Rothbury. Abi retrieved a bone from it and declared "I think its a rib from a rabbit, what if it had Myxomatosis, could I catch it?". To this I replied, ".....well, lets keep and eye on the situation and if you get sticky eyes maybe we'll phone the doctor....." ! 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Yorkshire's answer to Joshua Tree

It was great catching up with Huw and Jo last weekend, but I admit to being quite envious that Huw is actually being paid to go to Joshua Tree in California to climb (not fair)!

If we can get it started we don't have to walk up to the crag

Beautiful blue skies
However I didn't need to worry, as I spent today at Twistleton Scars in the Yorkshire Dales and it was pretty good. Sunny, and at times pretty hot all day, fantastic views, and miles of limestone climbing (well maybe a mile!). Sadly no Joshua Trees, but some beautiful ancient yew tree's, buzzards and the ever present view across to Ingleborough one of Yorkshires 3 peaks.

Although small in height a lot of limestone

It was a fun family affair today with Ben, Jane and Isaac and I think we got in 6 climbs from VD to VS. Weirdly, or probably not for people who have been here before the first route we did (VD), was actually the hardest, in fact VD's felt like VS, Severes felt like VS, Hard Severes felt like VS, and VS's, well you get the idea. This is all due to the amazingly glassy polish on the foot and hand holds.

?struggling on the VD!

Ben made this hand jamming crag look hard by not hand jamming!

Beautiful spot

Monday, 6 October 2014

Coed y Brenin Enduro

Ages ago Jo (mt bike oracle of mid Wales) managed to persuade us to enter the Coed y Brenin Enduro. In the end quite a few friends old and new had also entered, so it was going to be a fun and social affair.

The squidgy field camp at sunset
It's basically an 'event', similar to a road sportive where you ride a set/marked course and they feed you part way round! Not officially a race even though you get timed, and I'm sure many treat it as such.

Lovely early morning light (Dave snoring in the tent)
Abi is far more competitive than me, and had an interesting game plan, which was to start at the very back of the field and come home as last competitor! I was sure this wasn't possible, but boy did we get close! The reasoning behind this strategy is the fact that although competitive she can't stand being pestered (hounded) by bikers chasing around behind her trying to over take (sounds reasonable).

Off we go.....
We headed over on Saturday to meet everyone and camped at the idyllic Cae Gwyn Farm campsite - amazing views. Quite a busy camp spot so we opted for the spongy field unsure if we'd get the car/van off it again. Dave erected his antique tent and he started the serious preparation of drinking beer.

Jostling for places

Rachael, Alexy and Jess were AWOL biking further North. I thought they'd got lost in the woods, but really they lost themselves in hard liquor and loose........ well, they went to the pub.

The beautiful 'high' section of the course

The next morning dawned fair and started off being very relaxed, as Ann passed out endless rounds of toast from the van, however the price we paid for this generosity was that we were a tiny bit behind schedule and I do have to admit that I got a little stressed as registration for the event closed at 9.30am and we didn't get to the carpark until after this!!! We just managed to register as they were packing everything away, missed the pre-race safety briefing, and we were off........... As we were starting Abi asked "have you got any money for the feed station" (its free!!)!!

Rach going strong
The ride/route was really good and took us on some great high tracks with fantastic views. I stretched my legs for a while and left them chatting at the back, waiting in a wood to snap some pictures.

Abi in the spooky (slippy) woods

Dave the seasoned pro making it look easy
When we got to the feed station half way round the marshals thought that due to our sluggish arrival that we we were already on the longer route and nearly sent us the wrong way thinking we had nearly finished. Only managed to fit in 8 sausage rolls here (my goal was 10 - maybe next time).

concentrate Abi...

Like a pro....
We trundled on pretty much on our own for the last 10km, only seeing a couple of other people (including Christian and his friend). I got into the concept of being at the back because it just felt like we were on a ride with friends and not in an event at all.

Adele shredding

Wow never seen Abi move this fast (maybe she needed the loo...)
The last few km were in lovely, enclosed, dark rich green forests. Sadly we passed an accident with lots of medical 'bods', think it was a dislocated shoulder, before looping back to the finish and our 'finishers' mug.

The finish

what I came for....... my mug (or am I the 'mug')!

Abi sort of achieved her goal, out of 237 competitors she came 235th! A fantastic result Abi.... It was great to catch up with Huw (don't work too hard in Joshua Tree - grrr), Jo, Rachael, Alexy and Jess on the finish line. Jo had done very well in her class (2nd), but suspect her intimate knowledge of the forest helps immensely (joking!!). Fantastic weekend with friends old and new, see you all at the next one - that has finishers mugs ;-)

Not actually at the finish, part way round, but our band of merry bikers