North East and Yorkshire Area Group
14th March 2009
Quick report on yesterdays outing. This meeting was called to discuss plans for this summer's big RetroBike Dirty Weekender and to survey the route for day one. The route was based around an old favourite of mine that I last rode in 1989. As ever local knowledge was available from locals Gil_M, Ian and Mark and a few tweeks were made as a result.
After filling our bellies in Russells Cafe in Pickering we made our way to the starting point, the venue for this summers big meeting- a pub and campsite in the small hamlet of Newton-on-Rawcliffe. Bikes were fettled and lycra was stretched over afore mentioned bellies (Yorkshire breakfasts are BIG!) before setting out under leaden skies.
The Route started from the campsite and it's straight into loose surfaced double track before a turn onto the first decent. At this point I should mention that there were a good turnout of fully rigid machines going right back into the 80's- the idea being that if you can do the route on these bikes you can do them on anything! Gil took things to extremes by turning up on a rather nice Bontrager Cross bike- what will he bring next time is anyone's guess
So a motly crew of FAT's, Sinnetts ex-works Raleigh, Sithlords P20, Ians Klein Attitude plus some modern stuff and the cross bike pointed down the first muddy and rocky decent. A 400 foot decent down onto the appropriately named Stoney Moor. The next 15 minutes were spent weaving across the moor over the boulder strewn singletrack. It was rather muddy in places and much time was spent walking, pushing and carrying as well as bravely re-mounting and attempting to clean sections- some more succesful than others. A brief stop to lose a few layers of clothing now limbs were fully warmed and the first of many sessions of clearing mud from around the FAT's chainstay mounted U brake and then underway once again onto dryer and more flowing ground.
At this point Gil lead us into a glorious network of woodland single track. Steep, sometimes rooty, technical and flowing- a real gem. All secret and well off the beaten track. A real test of rider and machine this section but incredibly enjoyable. This is the kind of stuff that only local knowledge brings to a ride and Sithlord agreed it was like the secret trails in our local riding spot, Thrunton.
The next half hour was spent spinning along the forest road that runs along side the NYMR railway and dipping back in and out of the woodland along more delicious singletrack, gradually climbing our way up to the ominously named Rapers Farm. This was the first of a few killer climbs. Granny gears were selected and the banter stopped as we made our way back out of the valley floor back onto the top. Wheezing lungs and burning legs were rested awhile whilst snacks were had and me and Sith had a crafty fag.
Next up was one of the many highlights. We rode along a forest road for a mile or so with stupendous veiws to our right- a steam train struggled up the incline about 800 feet below us, I swear it was struggling as much as we had done just a few minutes before. Fire road quickly became singletrack again as we continued across the ridge northward to another creepily named spot- Killing Nab. Again fantastic views along this stretch and the sun even made a brief appearence. Another quick stop at Killing Nab Scar for a few more pics revealed a sheer drop onto the trees 600 feet below- not ideal for a night ride we all agreed!
The next section was a real hoot, we had a long fast decent down to the valley floor at Needle Point- again rooty and off camber. It was here that I realized that my brakes were the wrong way round, that would explain why the front end of my bike had been washing out all morning (i'd been blaming 20 year old Ritchey tyres!). Something I had never checked when the bike came over from the States earlier this month. It was probably the first time this 23 year old FAT CHANCE had seen mud. I was stunned how good this bike was for its age and enjoyed chasing a modern Cotic with 5 inch forks and discs down this decent just feet from his rear wheel.
Now out of the woods we then had a real slog back up onto the moorland section of the ride on the other side of the valley. This was steep and slippy and bikes were carried all the way to the top- a good mile or so. Real old skool stuff this- none of that trail centre stuff for us today! Eventually we reached rideable terrain. Moorland single track can be hazardous at this time of year as I soon found out- pulling up my front wheel to clear a puddle at speed, the rear wheel dropped to its axle and stopped dead. I landed with a thump onto that pointy Salsa stem with some velocity. Always happens with bystanders doesn't it?
We rested again for a while and took in the glorious views back over towards Newtondale and the route we had come along. The following bit was a real blast. Open moorland, big rings, wide smooth grassy surface, and four miles of high speed bumps. We really strung out along here, a long line of riders at high speed depite a strengthening headwind. The ancient drainage gulleys that criss-cross the track were used as launch pads for a little airbourne fun. The four miles were quickly dispatched as the track became tarmac for a final head down top gear sprint to the pub. I timed my attack perfectly and caught the lead pack napping- the oldest bike in the pack (with the unfitest rider) made the invisible finish line with a two bike length lead from a rapidly gaining MJN on his modern Scott Spark. One sweet victory for the Retro gang!!
A swift pint was had ouside in the stiffening breeze before now tiring legs were thrown over top bars before retracing our steps back onto the moor for a mile or so before turning westward into the wind. A gentle rise and a headwind made this the hardest part for me and i thought about taking up fishing on several occasions. But what goes up must come down. A nice steep bit of singletrack appeared over the rise and we made our final decent at some speed. Singletrack made way for tamac and the crossing of the railway at Levisham station- unchanged and restored, even the barriers have to be lifted with a hand pump. The last twenty minutes saw another epic oldskool carrying session- only Sithlord (now renamed Thomas Fishnet) attempting the grueling climb back to the starting point.
So there you have it. 13 miles of varied terrain, something for all and suitable for anything. A few changes and tweeks will be made before the summer but nothing drastic. I hope you will join us come July and sample it for yourself.
Thanks to all for coming. see you all soon