All Weather, All Roads

All Weather, All Roads

By Jack Sunderland

One of our Sonder bike mechanics, Jack, went on a 4-day adventure ride recently. Here's his story.

Getting the bike off the train at Sheffield, I asked myself "why is the bike so heavy?". I’m sure I packed as little as I could. Maybe I could lose a layer or two, I have space but she’s heavy.

I could barely hear the road as we rode side by side, chin-wagging and interrupting each other all weekend. Quick stop at Alpkit Hathersage to see where we could squeeze more bags on the bikes. The sky started the day off great but the rain came. It was light at the beginning of Snake Pass and, by the other side in Glossop, we were drowning. Stopping at the first pub we came across, it was perfect, quiet with an open fire. “Are you serving food?” we asked dripping. “Only vegetarian pad thai” came the reply. It was fantastic, warmly received. A large, hearty vegetarian pad thai. A few friendly locals told us about their tales on bicycles when they were younger before they passed their tests, over their fire, our converted drying rack. "Better you than us," they laughed as we headed out into the dusk rain to pitch our tents in the nearest woodland we could find.

Catching the early morning sun, hanging gear on park benches photosynthesizing, finding a cafe open early enough for black coffees and filling our water bottles. Of course we didn’t bring waterproof socks, we checked the weather reports. We chatted to some locals about to start their day's hike not knowing we were heading straight for our own hike-a-bike over some fells. With as much of our wet gear as we could strapped to the outside, we were off on some well laid gravel paths up a fell. Beautiful views, but we could have done without lugging fully laden bikes up and over those rocks. It was a fun adventure with some off road gold. But the route would have been better the other way. The downhill wasn’t worth the up. We hung out tents on cafe fences. Then, we had a mix of gravel and quiet roads until our next woodland pitch. Much more time to scout a site and pitch the tents without haste. The perfect pitch to shoot the breeze.

all weather all roads
all weather all roads

Breakfast in Bakewell, lunch in Leek, beers in Matlock. We had a full spread of roads today: a fast downhill A road into Leek; cracking views through streaming eyes; rolling fells; beautiful B roads; smooth gravel and rough bridleways; ending on a former railway line a great cycle path into Matlock. We had a quick camp of clear skies, bluebells, new leaves of green and fields of blooming dandelions. Everyone’s attitudes were lifting now the seasons were finally brightening up.

I had been looking forward to this trip all winter, eager to start the season. The trip felt very familiar. Old and new gear packed well. We rode together great, catching up on old times, current times and the road ahead. It was hard work, but lucky we were both matched in our wheezing. The first of the season. A new sun tan. How can the bike load be lighter for next time? What can be sacrificed?

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