The Dark Peak MTB guide had been on my shelf since last years Big Shakeout and now with the long evenings and a full moon it felt like the perfect opportunity to take on the challenge of the 105km Lord of the Loops. [See the route here]
I managed to wrangle in Col, we switched to a 32/18 ratio and put some knobbly tires on. That was the set up, we were ready to go. The biggest challenge was going to be turning up for work the next day!
On the drive up Col fitted a Gamma to his helmet and discovered it was cracked at the front. He decided he would have to ride carefully! In total we had 3 Gammas each, one on our helmets, the other two on our handle bars. At just £12.50 each.. it seemed good value compared to pro bike lights and we were pretty sure they would get us round. We set off from Castleton at 6pm.
The guide book starting point was Ladybower, but our plan was to get Mam Tor out the way early, get over the moors and down to the A628 before the werewolves awoke. We were fresh and the riding was good, the weather held and the rain clouds chased us across the moor. In the dusk it made for some exciting riding but we just managed to stay ahead to get off the moor as darkness fell.
Col was expecting downhill all the way to Glossop, so the rutted climb alongside the A628 came as something of a disappointment, which along with the arrival of the rain dampened our spirits. Riding into Glossop should have been the high point because every peddle stroke would be taking us home, however we were wet, cold and hungry. There were no easy escape routes from here, and sitting in our little shelter at 1am the only option was to continue pressing along the itinerary.
As we climbed out of Glossop the rain relented and we warmed to the task. Breaking the remaining distance down into short sections we gave ourselves achievable targets, the kilometres fell away as did the clouds revealing that full moon for the first time. The night however was short, and the sun brought warmth and hope. The riding became easier, and even though we were tired, and could have easily cut out the little loop from Eldon Hill down to Old Dam we stuck to the programme and got it done!
We were back in the office for 8.30 and tucking into egg baps. The coffee pot was charged up and we were feeling tired but psyched. As for our sneaky plan of extended the long evening with full moon light.. apparently there was a lunar eclipse during the night! Many thanks also to Shaggy and Paul.e. Without you guys showing us what is possible we would be doing a whole lot less!