I don't usually write up the Wednesday rides. They're short, 10 to 12 miles, designed to last just a couple of hours and not be too knackering. They also tended to be round the same 2 or 3 circuits every week. This year has been different, we've done a fair few routes, most of which have been very good, but last night's was the best of the lot. It was more like a weekend ride, but in miniature. Still only 12 miles and with not too much climbing, it crossed some great moorland and took in a number of fantastic singletracks.
Starting from Kildale we headed along the road back towards Great Ayton for a short way before turning off left to head up the tarmac climb up onto Warren Moor. At the top we followed the road a bit further before turning off left onto a bridleway down to Baysdale Abbey, the first time any of us have ridden this way. Vague rumours of "isn't this where Craig went over the bars" had us taking it easy, just in case, but there's no need to worry. The track cuts a fairly narrow path through the heather as it drops a hundred and odd metres, interesting & challenging but not too difficult. Eventually we hit the road for the final stretch down to the farm buildings.
Right here, through a gate and up an indistinct grassy track up the hillside (a real energy sapper) that eventually vanishes into the woods. At this point it's too slippery to ride, the thin coating of soft mud giving no traction whatsoever. The first of a fair few GOAPs of the night.
Emerging from the wood we follow the track across Middle Head and on to Armouth Wath where a fast descent down a stony track takes us through a ford before tackling the steep climb back up the other side to the highest point of our route on Baysdale Moor.
We press on over Baysdale Moor, past Great Hograh Head, eventually bearing right to drop down and cross Great Hograh Beck. Ahead of us now is Skinner Howe Cross Road, one of the best moorland crossings there is. Climbing gently at first (with a little bit of GOAP) it gives way to a gentle descent along a very technical, boulder-strewn singletrack. You can make this more technical by sticking to the proper route and not taking any of the alternative paths that are beginning to be carved out alongside the original. After almost 2km of bliss we hit the road and turn left down to Hob Hole.
A short, sharp climb up the other side then we turn off left back onto bridleway once more. As we ride along the track in the drizzle we see the strange sight of what looks like smoke but is actually steam rising up the hillside ahead of us, the drizzle evaporating from the retained warmth of the woods on the hillside.
At the three-way junction ahead we turn right for the final bit of GOAP of the day, a slippery push to the top of the hill. A brief crossing on level ground takes us to the other side of the hill and a very difficult rut and rock littered descent down the other side. Only Sam manages to clean it, the rest of us taking a fair few dabs and one or two multi-bike pile-ups.
Almost home now. A slow hard slog up another grassy slope with a herd of frisky cows and a brooding bull for company brings us out at Warren Farm and onto the road back down to Kildale. Fast and furious and just a little loose (and in the current weather difficult to see in its canopy of tree cover) it's a speedy descent back to the start in Kildale village.
A brilliant ride, three great singletrack descents, a couple of tough climbs and some great moorland scenery.
Kildale - Baysdale Abbey - Great Hograh - Hob Hole
12.5 miles, 2066' climb in 2 1/2 hours.