Big Dirty Weekender 2011 Report Part One
Chapel Stile, Cumbria.
Although the weather report told tales of heavy rain and mucho cloud; this year's Weekenders headed into the glorious English Lakes on dry roads with a mainly overcast sky. I arrived mid afternoon and began to search every car park in Ambleside for Vegas, who had arrived a half hour before. Acquainted once again and filled up with chips, we headed off to Bayesbrown Farm campsite and checked in just before the rain came down.
Having decided to sleep in the van, setting up was done in a matter of minutes. In fact we had just put the kettle on when Kaya and Mr Lee arrived. The weather abated for 20 minutes whilst they pitched tents before once more turning foul. This could be a washout.
Over the next few hours, more Weekenders bounced down the track on two wheels and four and the mood began to lift as the rain was ignored. After a quick run over to Windermere to collect Velomaniac from the station (the train was on time too!) it was time to let the weekend begin.
After a short delay whilst Velo built up his bike which he had managed to fit in a hold-all, we set out under damp conditions to find a pub. The pub below Dungeon Ghyll was chosen as it looked to be an easy 2 miles on a well surfaced bridle away. So, under the cover of darkness, 9 riders departed without proper lights and without helmets, dressed in Sunday best and Jeans for a swift pint or three in the pub.
Forty minutes later, eight riders rode and one survivor walked into the pub; wet, muddy and with tales to tell of crashes over the bars on what turned out to be very technical and very, very slippy slate covered singletrack. Lesson One: Wear helmets at all times!
With only time for one pint due to the fact it was now past closing time, we stood outside the pub under clearing skies and looked for stars poking through the gaps in the cloud. Real English ale never tasted so good. It was time to head back and crack up the BBQ and sample more ale back at camp. Singletrack was abandoned for single lane tarmac and within 10 minutes we were once again back at HQ. Soon enough, the beer and craic flowed into the early hours whilst tender steaks were grilled over charcoal. The rain stayed away and the last few souls disappeared into tents sometime after 2am.
What would the weather gods give us in the morning? The weatherman wasn’t sure. Time would tell.
Well what a pleasant surprise. I awoke at 8:30, hangover free to find sun pouring through the windows of the van. A few hours were spent fettling bikes, breakfasting, hydrating and milling about as other Weekenders rolled in. Harry Crumb was the first to arrive, followed by Mark Sinnett, Rob RC200, SLM Racing and Elpedro who had rushed back early from his holiday to make the ride. By 10:30 we were on our way and straight into a climb on tarmac toward the Loughriggs.
by Si Jackson's photos
, on Flickr
TO BE CONTINUED