Sunday, 8 January 2017

Dark and White Winter Mountain Bike Orienteering Round 2- Great Longstone

This Sunday saw the most recent round of the 4 event Dark and White Winter Mountain Bike Orienteering series at Great Longstone a few miles north of the Peak District honeypot of Bakewell. The Headquarters were the impressive Thornbridge Outdoor Centre.

After the previous round at Chapel-en-le-Frith I was really looking forward to the event, particularly after really enjoying the previous round, it had taken me out of my comfort zone and equated to a solid training session towards next years goals whilst keeping me mentally fresh.

I'd even considered doing a Midlands league event down near Northampton between Christmas and New Year however waking up on Boxing Day with an excruciating pain in my ribs, as well as the subsequent inability to sit up straight whilst in bed or sit in comfort riding a bike meant I've needed a couple of weeks downtime to allow the body to heal. I've only just been able to test comfort levels on a spin bike at the gym this last week so the latest round of the Dark and White MBO series was always going to be a test in itself.

Riding up to Thornbridge Outdoors you're hit smack on with the grandeur that would have once bestowed the site.

The entrance to Thornbridge Outdoors with the Radon

After the previous event I'd even made myself a homemade map board I'd attached to the bike using a Go Pro mount, a couple of sheets of card and some clips. At 09:02 I dipped in to start my 3 hour window and was handed my map for the event. For what I assume to be safety concerns we were not permitted to use the nearby Monsal Trail, certainly on a Sunday morning there's likely to be a lot of traffic on there that may be ill equipped to deal with us attempting to fly past.

After a brief wrong turn trying to cut through Great Longstone I nabbed 10 points at a checkpoint on the way out of the village before heading through the hamlet of Rowthorne aiming for a 15 point checkpoint atop Longstone Edge. My way up to Longstone Edge was via the restricted byway of Longreave Lane. I'd remembered running down previously and wasn't sure just how rideable it was but managed to clean the climb before turning left up to Longstone Edge for some points.

I dropped down off the top towards the road before swinging rigt onto a Bridleway I've ridden in summer that heads down to Black Harry Gate. Winter wasn't kind on this grassy bridleway as it's now extremely churned up to a nice bit of a challenge before riding over Black Harry Gate and mistakenly zoning out on the climb and missing the checkpoint. At the bottom of the lane I realised my mistake but I'm here for training so put it behind me though can't deny I was annoyed at the 15 points lost.

From there I dropped from the moor down from Hay Top into Cressbrook within Monsal Dale pocketing more points on the way. I've only ridden this section once before on the road bike, it's exceptionally quiet as you climb up the steep hillside into Cressbrook and higher still into Litton.

My quest for points then took me over to Tideswell and along a rugged, muddy farm track. I'm still getting used to riding on the rocky lanes that are a highlight of the Peak District and on this one I wasn't so comfortable but quickly turned back on myself and dropped down to the impressive Millers Dale for some more points up the sinuously steep Long Lane.

Moving out towards Taddington my rear wheel slipped all over the place climbing up part of the Pennine Bridleway. It'd be straightforward in the dry and seemed realatively well packed but I ended up having to push the final section to grab 20 points near of Pillwell Gate. I then made my way into Taddington to grab the points on Slipperlow Lane and along The Gates for some more points.

There was a second set of points on offer along the Gates where it becomes Wheal Lane after a rugged, muddy downhill section at the point where the Deep Dale Bridleway drops off although our control map showed Deep Dale as out of bounds

I then made a schoolboy error and turned right when the track hit the road and continued on for a good kilometer before seeing a strange junction and realising my sloppy mistake. This error certainly cost me another checkpoint in the long run and meant I now needed to adjust my route back.

After retracing my steps I made my way into the village of Sheldon, grabbing some more precious points before a fantastic downhill down Kirk Dale that I'll definitely be doing again on the road bike. Fast and sweeping bends all the way down to the A6 at Ashford in the Water

After bagging a few more points in Ashford in the Water I slowly meandered back to Thornbridge oitdoor to finish knowing I had a good amount of time to spare on this occassion.

My score was 190 points for my efforts which I was happy with. 11 points more than the previous round at Chapel-en-le-Frith and it would have been much higher without my errors on Black Harry Gate and after Wheal Lane

A nice 3 hours of solid training in an area I don't know a lot of the riding well so I'm happy with my efforts for the day. My homemade map board worked fine until it started raining around 11:00 hrs and on a day when most of the time my glasses were steamed up.

The Dark and White Winter MBO Series Round 2 Map- Sadly blogger won't let this be panoramic

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