It was a cold frosty start to the day and the planned 6 riders had dwindled to just 3 of us, Myself, Ian, and Rocket Dave ….. I think they’re new to being mentioned in these blogs.
Leaving Mansfield we headed off towards the Peaks, but had already decided that we’d need to stop off to for fuel ….. that’ll be a Double Sausage and Egg McMuffin Meal then ! Fueled up (ahem) we drove the short distance to Fairholmes at Ladybower and unloaded the bikes. We’d not even rode out of the car park and the front wheel was breaking away from me already, almost throwing me down onto the floor, it looked like it was going to be an interesting ride !!! Riding below the dam to the other side of the reservoir gave a fantastic view and roar as the water was came over the top of the dam. It looked spectacular, and it’s not often you get to see the water pouring over like that.
The surface seemed ok now, but there was that uncomfortable cold sensation in the back of your throat that you always get when first exercising in the cold air (or is it just me that suffers that!!) I was taking it steady, my legs felt really weak and I lagged behind Ian and Dave to begin with.
We soon found ourselves at the bottom of the bridleway that leads up over Grindle Clough, the path was clear to begin with but upon reaching the boothy it soon started to get icy, making biking difficult and walking not much better in some places, but we pressed on riding where we could. Upon reaching the top of Grainfoot Clough the path levels out, still uphill but at a very steady gradient, so we could finally get back on the bikes and start riding more than 10 metres at a time. I was surprised how quickly I could comfortably pedal on the ice and it was now my turn to leave Ian and Dave behind as they sensibly kept a slower pace, but I felt the raggedy edges of the ice surface were just providing enough grip for the tyre to grab and keep (me) upright !
We then head off the bridleway towards Cutthroat Bridge, this was in no way as good a condition as the path we’d just ridden, and it was very rutted yet still covered in ice, but it was now weaker ice and parts were breaking under tyre, I pushed on but my luck was to run out; the ice broke under tyre grabbing the front wheel and bucking me over the bars, luckily I managed to push myself sideways so I didn’t splat into the icy puddle myself (I think even jean Claude Van Dame would have been impressed by the roll upon landing !!) Geting back on the bike the other two weren’t yet in view so I carried on at a slower pace until they caught up, then the pace started again, Dave was in front and I was determined to make a pass, which I did, but after a short while I slowed to let them catch, Dave wasn’t too far behind and then the enevitable happened again, the whels sunk to axle deep and I was thrown off the bike .. again, but this time managing to stay on my feet, turning round, the bike was held perfectly upright by the icy mud. Back on the bike the trail started to get firmer under tyre, and we made the last drop towards Cutthroat Bridge, the last section had plenty of smooth sheet ice to negotiate, but the challenge of that just adds to the fun.
Riding down the road we crossover the viaduct and back on the road towards Fairholmes, after a short while we turn left up a Crookhill Farm drive way, just through the farmyard we ride through the gate and turn right, up and over Bridge-End Pasture, it was hard work over here, the ground was soft in many place as the ice had melted as it got more sunlight and the ground was already saturated from the weeks of rain that had come down previous to the cold snap. Eventually we reached the junction where you can turn towards Haggs Farm; we branched right over towards Lockerbrook, the path was now quite icy again, but progress was still quite quick and the surface soon became soft for a while but the drop towards the Outdoor Centre was extremely icy, and although it became a better surface it remained icy for the rest of that path, at the top of the final drop back to the road that goes up the side of the reservoir, we stop and have a couple of minutes before setting off, again speed was higher than I expected and we soon reached the road where we decided to call it a day and ride back towards Fairholmes, stopping off only to watch the water going over the top of the dam from this side. Back at Fairholmes, we had a quick hot snack before heading back towards to the car. It had been a short but great little ride that had been quite strenuous due to the conditions.