by Dave Anderson
October 10, 2013
Dave’s been having a love affair with the Lakes and reckons Autumn is when the riding’s at it’s best…
For Lakeland Lovers.
The ride part one.
We wake early, dragon breath in the gloom of the van condensing on blacked out windows. Last night we arrived late, and tucked ourselves away in the corner of a deserted car park. This morning we’re buried in duck down, struggling with the inertia that accompanies a warm doss bag but keen to head out to make the most of a stolen midday ride. The heavy condensation on the van windows hints at the sudden temperature drop in the middle of the night and sliding back the side door reveals the heavy dew coating the immediate world outside. Breakfast comes courtesy of a bowl of Co-op’s finest fruit and nut muesli and a good strong coffee from the trusty Jetboil.
Stealth campers in a sea of early morning mist. Merino base layer back on for the first time since spring, and likewise knee warmers. A gilet slipped on for the first climb until operating temperature is reached, woolly hat tucked into the Camelbak to insulate during any stops up higher. Climbing through the mist that clings onto the hillside; limiting our depth of field as it hangs between the trees, fading everything in the surrounding woods to grey. Following damp tracks that still offer perfect traction, a legacy of the dry summer we’ve enjoyed, so far shrugging off the days of westerly-borne fronts of rain now sweeping in off the Atlantic. No noise but our own, heavy breathing and crunch of tyres through gravel. Eventually we climb out of the valley and its gloom to reveal a series of island peaks emerging from a sea of milky cloud.
Time to readjust clothing to the new conditions, the warm air trapping fog down in the valleys, losing layers, packed away until they’re need again later in the day. Sitting in the sun, soaking in the silence and the view. Looking out onto the temperature inversion that masks the roads and villages now waking below us. Crystal clear air that reveals distant hills that usually lie hidden in the summer haze. Uninterrupted views and uninterrupted paths, freedom to ride where we want with no-one to block progress. We have all this to ourselves, there’s not another soul in sight nor sound around us. This is why I come here now. This is why I choose to wait. Autumn is the season for Lakeland riding at its best.
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So here’s my bold claim: midweek autumn riding in the Lakes is Lakeland riding at its best. A beautiful combination of personal peak fitness, virtually empty all-weather trails and endless views to die for. No need to waste time stuck in traffic on narrow roads heading nowhere, simply arrive, park up and set off to ride.
You’d be mad not to.