Eleven of EUCC met at the CSE to begin the journey down south to the Lakes to sample some very natural riding, of which the lakes has no shortage and also some of the best trail centers that end of town has on offer. With the vans loving the country roads (Drivers not so much) it wasn’t long before we had arrived at the hostel from the middle ages; no plugs in rooms, no wifi and no signal or any of the other amenities students are used to, here begins a tale of adventure…
Saturday morning was an early start as we had big plans in terms of riding. Helvellyn is the 3rd highest peak in England and it had been decided, sensibly, that it should be tackled head on and recklessly. Without a warm up we kicked off from the hostel into a leg burning climb; after ascending for what was a far too longer period of time we got lost and had to cut upwards (again) back onto a different trail. Back on track it was hike-a-bike to the next ridge line. By this point however the weather had come in and EUCC got the first snow riding of the winter season, although it was more like blistering hail. In near zero visibility and with faces more chafed than a runners nipples our heads overcame our hearts and with tails between our frozen legs we had no choice to beat a hasty retreat back the way we had come. Whilst this was somewhat disappointing, the ascent up made for a long and sweet switchback descent back down so at least by the time we arrived back at the hostel we were buzzing and ready for more.
After being defeated by Helvellyn we headed to Grizedale trail centre for some afternoon riding. With the weather still wet and fairly miserable we piled on to the trails consisting of undulating singletrack which encouraged furious cycling, sketchy off camber boardwalk and elevated stretches of boulders. EUCC set a fair pace around it; returning home to the carpark in the late evening gloom, satisfied with the days riding.
The next mornings riding consisted of another natural ride; this time staying low we followed the contours of the hill next to Ullswater Lake and put together a tight loop. This ride was spot on; technical climbs and even more technical descents gave sustained highs, boosted further by the endless blue sky views. After a myriad of bike related woes (including a complete write off) we arrived at an endless, punishing hike-a-bike climb which brought us to the summit of a valley where we were greeted with a view of the snow capped peaks of the neighbouring mountains and the prospect of a delicious, technical descent.
Following the Ullswater escapades EUCC were keen to crowbar in one more ride before heading north so we jetted off to Whinlatter trail centre for another afternoons riding. The grins on the faces returning to the car park explained it all to those unfortunate enough to not to be able to ride due to aforementioned bike issues. Either way the weekend allowed the sampling of some serious all mountain terrain, treacherous weather, superb techy natural trails and some trail centres to boot.