Well yesterday has to be one of my most stupid ideas ever
It didn’t quite involve the Mountain Rescue but it got pretty close, I think I have found the limits of the Pugsley and for that matter mankind!
Having walked up to Simon Howe, a local high point right in the middle of the Yorkshire moors (240m) two days ago I thought it would be a good idea to re-trace the walk with the bike, bearing in mind we have had two small snow showers since then I thought it would make it entertaining. I watched the weather to see another band of snow coming in off the coast, I thought this might add a little more interest so found my woolly top and set off.
Dropped the van at the Hole of Horcum (290m), car park full of families throwing snow balls but strangely enough no other mountain bikes, rounded the corner out of the car park and into virgin snow fields. Ideal riding conditions, snow about 6”-8” deep with drifts at about 12”, just me and the sheep and some nice views of the moors, Oh yes and the big black cloud on the horizon.
Nice snowy decent down to Malo Cross, getting a bit deeper as I went down, snow had blow on the bank and was nearer a 12” the whole way down, out onto the forest road and followed a vehicle track up to the back or Fylingdales Early Warning station, easy going following the tracks, bit deeper in the middle
Followed the new bridleway round the edge of Fylingdales, even going through the large gate saying “YOU WILL BE ARRESTED AND PROCEUTED IF YOU GO BEYOND THIS POINT” nice to see they have updated the signs. Snow was starting to fall now, slow to start with but then big flakes and faster, the 6’ posts with fluorescent orange tops lead my way across the frozen bogs and ever deepening snow, Pugsley was loving this….
Got to the only part of the ride that’s anywhere near civilisation and realised at this point the road was now full of snow and there seemed to be a lot of worried looking drivers, maybe they should be on bikes
Crossed the road and headed across Fen Bog, all nicely frozen now so no issues there crossed the railway and onto the open moor….
I must have done this ride about 40 times, I know it like the back of my hand and the snow was going to add a real edge, so I thought, I knew I might have to push a bit, at this point the snow started to get heavier, to the degree I realised I could only see about 10’ ahead of me, the depth of snow was now becoming an issue, about 12”-14” and more on its way, I battled on
I knew if I could get to the high point it was downhill all the way back, by this point I was starting to get wet and loosing my bearings, the usual open trail had a deep layer of snow now and I was walking, the snow cleared for a bit and I saw the high point, the bike was now full of snow and was becoming an issue, do I dump it and return to the road, or carry on, I’m a bloke, I carried on!
I finally got the Simon Howe, I couldn’t see a thing, I was cold wet, had no food and I’m supposed to be a trail leader, this was going wrong
I knew if I got off the moor I would be ok, the forest was my sanctuary, I was now walking downhill in knee deep snow, why did I bring this bike, it was 60lbs I didn’t need, I wonder if you can eat raw Grouse, they would never see me from the air anyway
Finally after over an hour I got off the moor and into the Tree line, thank God I didn’t have anybody with me, they wouldn’t have made it
Into the forest and the sanctuary of forest roads, still with 10” of snow on them but a firm base, I could ride again, working my way back through the forest, just in awe of the winter wonderland, the odd deer and nothing else, the snow had eased a little but it always drops about 3 degrees going down through Newton Dale Forest, God I hope the Café was open at the Train station.
Another 40 mins and I rolled into the Train station, hands now completely numb, feet going the same way and face battered from the driving snow, the café was closed!
Knowing I had two 1:4 hills to get up before I was home I pushed on, the first is the longest, dropped Pugsley into number one and slowly climbed the icy snow covered road, there was grit under there somewhere but now with about 6” of snow on top of it. As I rode I tapped out a rhythm with my hands, trying to get some feeling back into them. I finally reached the top of the first climb only to faced with a 12’ wide white corridor full of snow, the road had long gone, now covered by 12” of snow. This was pushing the limits, the gears were full of snow, but somehow carried on working, I won’t moan about Shimano again
Still riding I rolled though Levisham, nothing but abandoned cars and the village horse licking the salt heap, if I can do the last hill I am home
Dropping down the bank I saw a tractor coming up, maybe I could get a lift to the top of the other side, no, I had got this far, I was going all the way
Rolling over the bridge at the bottom I knew in 20 mins I would be in a warm shower, do I walk it or ride, I can ride if I drop a little air out of the back tire, I saw a lone walker up ahead, I need to ride this
I climbed the final brow, the snow had started again the road was a little cleared in the village but all I wanted to see now was food and a shower
I pulled up at the back of the house, to be welcomed by “where the hell have you been?, I was just about to ring the police”
The 2 hour ride had taken 5 ½ hours, it was nearly dark but I was alive!
A word of warning to anybody buying a Pugsley, make sure you are ready for an adventure and take some food with you!
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