Sunday, 15 November 2009

Danby: Route One

Yesterday we met up with a group of riders from down south who were up here for a long weekend in God's Own Country. Due to time constraints the plan was just to do a short loop from Danby Village, Route 1 from the fine book "North York Moors Mountain Biking: Moorland Trails" by a certain Tony Harker. An added extension made this route slightly longer and threw in an extra fun downhill.

We decided to split into two groups - fast and not so fast - and off we set. I was in the fast group, so I can't comment on anything that happened to the others!

After the previous four weeks of soggy, shit covered rides that we'd done, this week was looking promising. Bright blue skies and very mild temperatures, the weather was way better than the forecast had predicted.

We left Danby and headed west, paralleling the railway all the way to Commondale. This is a lovely bit of trail. While not in any way challenging it gives great views down over the valley with the river and railway running below you the whole way.

A bit of a climb at Commondale and then we're onto the green lane from Three Howes Rigg. Constant use of this lane by 4x4 has left it deeply rutted, and those ruts were full of water, most of them up past our axles. I rode into some of them with real trepidation, wondering if, in fact, the water might come up past the handlebars, not just past the axles!

A quick right-left-right and we're on The Pannierman's Causeway, one of the many stone tracks laid across these moors in centuries gone by. Fun to ride on a full-suss, bouncy as hell on a hardtail, it's not quite as challenging as The George Gap, which seems to have wheel-catchers placed at regular intervals.

Then it's off across the moor to Castleton Pits, a very indistinct section of moorland singletrack that involves a fair bit of heather-bashing in the early stages.

Heather Bashing

This brings us out at the plummet down Oakley Side and today there's no oversized walker blocking the entire trail, so it's heads down and brakes off all the way to the bottom.

We take the road from there, past Danby Castle (never seen that before) and along Fryup Dale, saying goodbye to one of our group on the way. He's suffered SPD failure and has decided to take the short, easy, road way back to Danby. The rest of us push our bikes up the excellent downhill from Danby Rigg. It's a worthwhile effort on two counts. First, we'll get to do the cracking downhill at the other side that we've only ever ridden up and secondly it makes us appreciate the size of the rocks and drop offs we encounter when we usually ride down this way. Personally I was quite surprised that we tackle such stuff with relative ease - it doesn't look nearly as big on the way down!

It Makes A Fine Downhill!

So all that's left is that downhill - fast, narrow and technical, but with generally good run-off areas if you lose it. But do we ever lose it? Another incident-free ride, we're getting pretty good at this not-falling-off malarky.

Downhill From Danby Rigg In Fading Light

Having split into two groups, the second group had further sub-divided into two and yet by an amazing quirk of timing we all arrived back at the same time for tea & scones in The Moors Centre. Lovely.

Danby - Pannierman's Causeway - Fryup Dale:
15.2 Miles, 1854ft Up/Down, 2hrs48mins

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