Sunday, 21 October 2018

Feeding the unfit rat

Today was a lovely day, but I couldn’t get out for a ride until after 2PM. It was never going to be big or hard but let’s face it, riding from Sheffield out to the Peak District is always worth waiting for; good roads, stunning scenery, and hills that make your legs bulk and your lungs work to capacity if that’s what you want.

Today was also a day for riding out on Rosie, my Kinesis-framed bike. I wanted to go out, do some hills on the heavier bike; it's the kind of torture I like. Plus, it looked like it might just turn to rain so it could turn into a big, long adventure.

The route started off nicely downhill to the crossing of Abbey Lane and Eccleshall Road, but then the climbing started, firstly up to Whirlowdale, then after a short break, it was up Long Line, a quick flat and then the long climb up to Burbage, and across to what climbers describe as the popular end of Stanage Edge.


Riding along underneath Stanage in drizzle and quite a lot of blustery wind, there were a few cars parked on the verge, and walkers still heading up through the Plantation car park and up to walk along the Edge. What surprised me though was the number of climbers up at the crag, huddled in groups at the bottom, one or two climbing - mostly on top ropes I noticed, and one or two on top. Then it dawned on me that it's still early un the Uni season; there were 5 or 6 minbuses from various universities, and also a large coach parked lengthways covering a multitude of spots at the Popular End car park - obviously university outings, freshers learning the ropes and beginning their own experiences out on the rock.

The coach did surprise me a bit, but as I rode along my mind was cast back to the days when I used to doss at Tremadoc and spend a lot of time kipping on the floor of Geoff Parslow and Bob Drury's caravan opposite Pete's Eats. One night there was a team staying in the barn from Sheffield University Mountaineering Club (I think). We'd met them in the Fleece - I think I recognised one or two of them from the Peak crags. Geoff, Bob and I ambled back from the pub,and were brewing up and eating when we heard the roar of a motor vehicle of some sort thrashing its way at very high speed through Tremadoc. Anyone who's been there will tell you there's a 90-degree bend at the end of the road and at the speed this vehicle was going, this wasn't going to end well. Of course, we thought no more about it, but the following morning there were some VERY hungover people in Eric's Cafe. One of the Sheffield lads told us that they'd got the van up to about 80 - fully laden with boozed-up student climbers - but the driver hadn't had the gumption or foresight to slow down for the bend. They had hit the kerb and gone through the fence into the field beyond.

Intrigued as we were the three of us set off for a look see and the Sheffield lads' description of what had happened (thankfully everyone was fine by the way) was a bit 'undertold'.

The van had clearly taken off and flown - absolutely clear of any contact with the ground - until it had hit a boulder about 20 feet into the field (there were no wheel tracks whatsoever before where the boulder had started off.

The van had pushed the boulder (it was pretty large!) about a further ten feet before van and boulder had come to a dead stop. There was obviously going to be no quietly reversing the bus out and skulking off back to uni with tails between their legs - this was a full on rescue job. Very impressive, and I couldn't help but wonder just how many uni minibuses had gone the same way and if climbing clubs were the worst culprits or whether there was some other kind of uni club - karate maybe, figure skating perhaps - that downed more booze and had more accidents.

Maybe hiring the 45-seater coach was a stroke of genius, brought on by the write-offs of too many vans by a university? Funny the things you think about on the bike sometimes!

Grindeford - Froggatt, looking back up the valley
 Anyway at the far end of the Stanage road there's the chance to climb some more and traverse across to New Road and down into Bamford.

Then it was back along the TT, and into Hathersage, where I decided on the Froggatt loop - down to the Calver crossroads, then back up through Froggatt Hill, past the Grouse and back up to the Owler Bar roundabout that way. From there, down towards Totley, passing Rice Kemper Evans' old house - a name forever etched onto the history of Stanage Edge - then down one side and up the other side of Mickley Lane before nipping home along the Parkway TT (slowly!)

Overall about 47km of riding with around 870m of upwards ascent, the majority of which was between Abbey Lane and Burbage, as well as Froggatt Hill. It was good to get out to stretch the legs, and also to have to climb some hills along the way.

Elevation profile - 869 metre in 47 kilometres. Not a bad (short) ride!

Tomorrow it's my first commute using the eBike loaned by Sheffield Cycle Boost. There won't be as much climbing, but the route back home is far from flat, so let's see how that goes.

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