Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Moors

Early starts and lots of miles for work does have some payoff. I am lucky enough to be able to ride all over the country, although it also means that I struggle to find the time to blog. However, some rides really derserve a write up, This is a rather post-dated account of a ride which came about after I messaged my Huddersfield born n bred friend Luddite for a tour. Sure enough he was happy to 'cobble something together' and I got to his around 6 pm for a post-work-pootle.....

The man is a machine, we were off at high pace and flew through the urban trails to the moors in no time. Woosh! 

"'ll be bringing the hardtail, so make it an easy non-technical one" I figured a bit of prewarning was needed, for northerns are notorious for their tough technical trails.

Sure enough there was a little rocky stuff, but mostly it was mile munching on a fabulous mix of byways, bridleways, a little road and armoured peat crossings.

It's always great to have a tourist tour too, with Ludder's local knowledge and deep-seated love of his home town and it's industrial heritage.

Most of the terrain is man-made, or man-altered, from canals, reservoirs, railways and farming. Dry stone walls subdividing the landscape and giving it a diorama-esque feel.

Luddite recounted tales of industrial stockpiling of tractors across the fields we overlooked.

Fighting headwinds under big black skies was exactly the kind of training I need right now my mileage being rather low. Here's a red-faced selfie; evidence of the hard work chasing the big man over his home turf.

We stopped to appreciate the views as well of course, it definitely wasn't all hard work.

Red flag at the shooting range, flying in the winds, and what winds they were starting to become.

The next section of trail, I am not ashamed to admit, I struggled with. Not a bit, but a lot. It was skinny, off-camber, rocky singletrack, mostly climbing, with a massive drop to one side and with a furious cross-wind. I was either clipping a pedal, hitting the sides of the trail with the front wheel as it got caught in the wind, or generally having a flap about falling off the hill. With a combination of short sections of pedalling, scooting, and even pushing, I got to the end. Ludders thought it was a fabulous bit of trail. Me, not so much, but the views of the nestled valley were great.

Plus, it delivered us to a beautiful little man-made lagoon. Purpose unknown. Answers on a postcard....

What a gent! I know, I know, I should be the one carrying that, but I'm not one to turn down some good ol' fashioned gentlemanship.

This was one of the most desolate sections of the ride, the dropping light trapping us in the landscape and it felt like there would be no escape. Then Luddite stopped suddenly to recount the fact this is the territory of Ian Brady. Hands up who knows where he hid the bodies.

Good job I don't believe any of my friends are serial killers, or I might have been a bit scared.

The winds were at their strongest, and a simple bridge crossing became a krypton factor challenge, trying to hold on the bike as it morphed into a kite. Thank goodness for the barrier sides; it would have been a belly crawl trying to stay out the drink otherwise!

The moors were harshly beautiful, and such a contrast to the inhabited valleys, Villages peppered through their flanks, retaining their circumscribed character, for now. Development will no doubt assimilate them into one human sea of grey overpopulation within the next few decades.

One last piece of history to visit on the way home. The Standedge Tunnel. 3 miles of subterranean engineering started in 1794. A tiny tunnel for narrowboats, pushed through by human 'leggers'.

It must have been incredibly claustrophobic work. I think I would have liked it. Small ducts, basements and tunnels are my favourite places at work.

From the tunnel we climbed back out the valley and back to home, up woodland paths and lanes. 20 epic miles, about 830 meters of climbing. Not bad for a post-work-pootle, not bad at all!