All hail the men of the North West!
Hayfield - An Aftermath
A hastily assembled route was on the cards for the day's trip to Hayfield. With the trails of Delamare apparently obliterated by forestry operations, a trip into the ever reliable High Peak was a worthy substitute.
It was a cold morning with sub zero temperatures and a forecast of snow rolling in during the afternoon. All seven Retrobike riders were ready and wrapped up warm for 15 miles or so of riding.
With elPedro666 reliably late as always there was some good natured faff and banter before the off.
Mr_ship brought along an immaculate 1990 Klein Attitude to test out on the rocks and ice. The aforementioned Pete couldn't resist fulfilling a childhood dream by actually having a go on it, when he should really have been sorting his own colourful creation.
Eventually, after everyone had had a bit of Dolomite between their legs, we rolled off along the Sett Valley Trail towards Birch Vale. A short sharp climb up to the road soon had everyone fully warmed up.
The climbing continued up past the huge Hayfield Quarry with a brief stop for a group photo. A quick check of the map to make sure of our turning had us descending briefly across a frozen field, before another steep road climb on this supposedly flat first section of the ride.
We turned down a usually great section of singletrack bridleway. I warned everyone about the potential for ice on this often watery section.
Turning a corner revealed a sheet of the slippery stuff with a long sliver reaching off into the distance.
There were several spirited attempts to stay on and ride along the edges, but it took a well placed drainage bar to clear the ice and open up a nice little descent.
At the bottom, mr_ships super rigid Klein had shaken the pivot bolt from it's SS-5 brake levers. A lightweight zip tie repair called into question the need for heavy steel bolts.
We considered how many other parts could be weight weenied with a versatile strip of plastic.
Dropping down we joined the Peak Forest canal at Furness Vale for a couple of miles spinning along past the narrow boats to our pub stop. A bit of industrial archaeology drew our attention briefly at Buxworth Basin before the first flakes of snow pushed us into the pub.
Some hot food and a sample of ale made for a warming respite from the gathering cold. Mr K regaled us with stories of a big city called London which he had visited recently.
He even had a special London hat.
While indoors the snow had really started to fall, making the inevitable continuation of our journey seem much colder and less appealing.
But we layered up and headed back out there.
The gentle towpath riding changed to an equally flat old tramway trail along the valley floor. The snow blustered around as ice crystals, blasting into the bare skin on our faces, and stinging unprotected eyes.
Climbing up away form the valley floor, Mr K was beginning to wonder when the 'mountain biking' part of the ride would begin.
Soon was the answer, as we climbed up a dead-end Beet Lane.
The tarmac petered out and was replaced by a rough and icy track which wound further up into the hills. After a mile or so of searching for traction we met up with a T-junction with the Roych Clough track.
My face had become crunchy with a frozen beard at this point.
This old track was upgraded to form part of the Pennine Bridleway a few years ago. Although some sections have been resurfaced, fortunately it's lost none of it's character.
Today, however most of the surface was covered in a healthy layer of snow which again made the going slow and slippery.
We reached the high point of the trail at 1486ft. An impressive bit of riding saw mrlee reach the summit without dabbing on the last technical few metres. We sheltered from the freezing wind for a while on the leeward side of the slope, surveying the valley below.
The track to Mount Famine was very slippery with the snow hiding many sheets of ice. I let down the pressure on my Panaracer Dusters to improve my chances and we all managed to steer our old machines across and through a gate to begin descending.
The snow filled up ruts between the rocks demanding full concentration to get down. Everyone made it without too much incident, but I'm sure, like me, there were a few moments followed by big wide grins at the bottom.
The downhill continued down a fast open straight track. We were all getting braver now and staying off the brakes, building up speed across the thin layer of snow which blew about around our wheels.
Turning right we climbed briefly to the top of a deadly descent into the aptly named Coldwell Clough. I went first, using an outstretched foot to temper my speed and keep me upright on the treacherous drop.
Looking back it seemed that everyone was using a similar technique to avoid crashing.
Further down a bit more traction could be found but plenty of care was still in order.
Neily pulls a wheelie
Another short climb wreaked havoc on mr_ship's Attitude with a snapped chain. With a long descent just over the brow, he decided to roll down to a more sheltered location before attempting a repair.
The descent was great fun, the snow and ice added extra little traps to catch out anyone who wasn't fully committed to the task. I chickened out and stopped at a sheet of ice, promptly slipping over on my dismount. The sheet ice dumped me on my arse so I tried sliding down alongside my bike. I was rewarded with a very cold behind.
Regrouping we found that the Klein had decided it needed further weight savings by ejecting the rear mech back plate, bolts and jockey wheels.
There's a shakedown ride and a Klein shakedown I suppose.
"If you were a real Klein owner you'd just leave that bike there and go and buy another one..." Mr Kawasaki
Mr_ship considered threading the chain back on for a singlespeed conversion but instead the NWA team spirit kicked in and he was towed and pushed the remaining mile to the car park.
AA...? RAC...? No it looks like you need the NWA.
With the weather now fully closed in, it was a relief to safely complete the ride. The only real casualty was an unfortunate Klein.
HarryCrumb's car had also taken the brunt of some driving idiocy. We returned just after a Land Rover had slid into it. The driver was very apologetic and, I suspect, also very embarrassed about losing control of a 4x4 on a snowy car park.
Details were exchanged and a bit of rainbow coloured strapping was used to secure a smashed rear light cluster.
ElPedro covetously eyed up the multi-coloured modification as a potential addition to his homage to Tron bike.
Gratuitous own bike shot
The snowy journey home was fun in a rear wheel drive Smart. Particularly on the roundabouts.
Thanks to everyone who made it and I hope you all made it back safely.