Finding my range

December 30, 2014 at 12:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It was somebody else’s idea to do a Dartmoor bike-run session, and while they subsequently decided to swim-run instead (ewww, swimming), I decided it was an idea with legs. Cold ones, mainly.

I suppose it’s the sort of thing I ought to be doing more of, with next year’s Keswick tri including Newlands, Honister and Latrigg. I may work out some resolutions next week.

friends. Pony friends.

When I left Belstone I was slip-sliding upwards on the tarmac hill, not entirely sure how this would work out. As a runner on the moors I’ve always tried to avoid the tracks, so I’ve been crossing them rather than following them, and never really looking at them as potential cross-bike ideas.

As it happened, it was a bit brilliant. The coldest day of the year gave stony tracks layered with ice, and icy ones layered with stone. All rideable (apart from that carry bit), and quite a lot of it glideable. Instead of cracking ice being ominous, this time the excitement started whenever the cracking stopped and I silently slid.

The military track stops in the col by Yes Tor, and from there to High Wilhays it’s a scrappy patchwork of granite lumps and icy clumps. This took more work than anything, especially now I was being glared at by sticks and mapcases, and knowing that I couldn’t possibly fall off in front of the judgemental multitude. The answer in the end was to go faster, faster, with momentum and adrenaline being my friend.



After stopping for a selfie (a shadow of my former self), downwards sort of accelerated the complexity that had previously been upwards. I did have a brief flirtation with being upside down (nobody saw), but the main issue was a pinch flat on a more-than-usually-hideously stony bit, bunny-hopping the granite drainage setts. Back wheel, so probably brought on by me eating too many Christmas pies (and I haven’t finished yet).

The whole thing slightly reminded me of a bad idea I once had when working at Wasdale Head in the late 80s, and I painfully wrestled my steel road bike up Styhead Pass. This time on the cross bike was how it should have been back then. Today might have been easier on a mountain bike. It wouldn’t have been such an adventure though.

Belstone Cleave

Belstone Cleave

Back at the car, there were decisions to be made. Cake and warmth? No. The temporary luxury of dry socks, and on for a run up Cosdon Beacon. First it’s a drop down into Belstone Cleave, which is the coldest place on the moor. And then some. Then up up up, on a good path that turned into a bad path and then no path, struggling through the tussocks long before I got the chance to struggle through the heather.

Walshes turned out to be a lot less grippy than cross tyres, which made life interesting on the straight-up-and-down navigation I’d gone for (saves reading the map). The weight of pies didn’t help either, where the thinner bits of ice stood on top of some startling-cold bogs.

from the top

from the top

Downhill was downhill, some blur and some slog, and back to the car for crossmass cake and for warming up that took until about now.

PS – re the title – check before you go.

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