He’s packing for something. The Wildcat gear and sleeping equipment is laid out on the workshop floor.

Its adventure time.

It’s been a while since he took me out for a good ride. The Winspace and recently the Rose have been treated to the miles for smiles. He even swanned  off to Flanders with the new shop kit for a dirty weekend with friends and to top it off he has been flaunting around with a full suspension Rocky Mountain.

I’m now strapped together like the Pulp Fiction gimp. Harness and strap-on bags. Fuel pods and water bottles. I have gone fat up front with Mr Chronicle and I’ve even been treated to a new chain. The E Trex has been zipped tied to my handle bars and I’m wheeled me outside. Doors locked, padlocks secured and we are off. The trail awaited. The blue skies and warm sunshine is stocking the generators, I’m ready for my first serious ride of the year…….bollocks, the bloody railway station.

“The next station is Garsdale”.  Free at last. Try hooking your lip to a metal spike with a heavy rucksack on your back for 45mins and see how you feel. The sun is out but there is a nip in the air. He has his arm warmers on and his poncey Jaw breakers. He has spent too long with the roadies.
It’s great to feel the trail under my wheels. The crunch of dry dirt and the gentle slide as my Maxxis search for corner grip but alas it is dull tarmac all the way to Staveley. 25 miles of it. Some down, some up but he must be enjoying it as he is singing to himself without his iPod on. Bless.

We roll into Mill Yard and before he can unclip he is meeting and greeting. He has never met most of the riders but they all behave like they have been best buddies for years. Internet friends and social media groupies haggling together like giggling school girls whilst WE are propped up against a post “Mind the bloody paint why don’t you” and ignored. No wait he is talking about me, he is even promoting me, now they are all looking at my forks, pointing and deliberating. Ok maybe I am a big thing.

He’s been in there for some time now and if I’m not mistaken that’s his 5th beer. Looks like tomorrows ride will be a steady affair. meanwhile me and a few buddies have been abandoned outside having a bit of a chat about our passengers.

“Hi. I’m Indiana, you know Indiana JONES Ha ha ha”.
“Good one. Did he come up with that”.

Bed time was a field next door. Left to shiver he climbed into his warm bag. Me, well I was left to my own devices with Marks steam train snoring next door for company. There is nothing like the rhythmic snore of a middle-aged man to KEEP YOU AWAKE ALL NIGHT.

Sunrise and sun rays, singing Black birds and snoring. Its game time. I’m strapped up again with the bit in my mouth. He is tucking into a Cumberland sausage and eggs and has two cups of coffee on the go. The yard is filling up with fellow adventure seekers and long-lost friends. Handshakes and selfies. Last minute faffing and “bugger I knew I forgot something” made the Yard a bustling excited environment. The fact we were going on a 100 mile off-road ride in the Lake District was yet to hit home. All I could see was smiles and excited riders.

It wasn’t long before everyone gathered outside the Hawkshead Brewery. A fat tyred beard gentleman introduced himself along with Tom Hill. Some emotional words where spoken and a round of applause broke the moment. We were off to ride the SouthLakes100 in memory of our friend Jenn Hill.

I imagine this is the point where you go put the kettle, turn off or go search the net for some Amazon deals. How can you put into words 16hrs of stunning bike related shenanigans without boring you all to bits. Simple. You can’t. Like a Vietnam vet “You had to be there man”.

Lets throw some photos into the blog. Link.

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Got to say I am proud of the old chap. He soldiers on. He is no whippet and he may creak and groan but he keeps the pedals turning. We spend some time with Bruce from Skipton and we share a sing-song that Stu has conducted whilst putting me front wheel first down a rocky rutted steep descent.

Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Marzocchi fork
My arms hurt like crazy, my eyes are on storks
I do love my Truss fork, but I’m getting older
Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Marzocchi fork.

50 miles in and page one on the ETrex runs out of red lines to follow. Page 2 is loaded up. “JennRide return leg 94kms”. The route takes me back on myself but a bike packer is seen going up another trail. Who is being led up the wrong path. We lean against a fence and ponder our predicament. Trust the GPS Stu. He heads me towards a farm and an open section on the valley floor. He is still a bit worried he may of loaded the wrong route but as we climb out of the valley he looks back to see 4 ride coming in  behind. We wait at a gate and Tom and Rob approach. Whilst we munched on energy bars on the hoof theses chaps had had a spot of civilised lunch in Ambleside. It was time to ride with some friends. I have shared some miles with these chaps and their single speeds and titanium steads. As they chatted and shared their 1st 50 with each other, we searched forward and ground our way in and out of Lakeland valleys. Bliss.

The sun was going down and his pedal pace was a bit slower. Darkness enveloped us as we cycled out of Ambleside side with their bellies full of chips. Lumens and watts of light lite the way but the shadows slowed the pace. Night riding on unknown trails. A steady combination but a chance for some chit-chat between our riders. 3 abreast as we climbed another trail. 3 horseman riding the plains.

For some reason Stu never mentioned the mileage. I even heard him say “I don’t want to know how far I have gone or have left to complete”. He is one of those mileage watchers. Counting down the kilometres and predicting the finish time but this time it felt different. We had a weekend together. No time constraint and no deadline. All we had to do together is ride the red GPS line and finish our 100 miles. He had loaded me all his kit. Bivvy, sleeping mat and bag. Cooking kit, freeze-dried food and coffee. Cold weather kit for a cold night on the hills, spares and repairs and a water proof jacket. He doesn’t trust the Met Office predictions. He was ready for a two-day adventure but he pushed me off into the darkness. We passed some riders camping down for the night with a glorious sunset canvas for comfort. They exchanged words but we carried on. Up and down we rode. In and out of temperature inversions. Freezing one moment and not so cold the next.

“I know where we are now even in the dark. Last loop before we descend into Stavely”.

It felt like a hard last hour. My pilot was getting tired and mistakes made for a dodgy few miles. We had a big off when shadows hid a rocky out crop and we took a glancing blow throwing us across the trail into another rock. Bashed swollen finger and a nasty cut on the shoulder. A few expletives and we soldiered on. Concentrate Stu. Almost home.

We entered the yard. A quiet yard. Cold and still. The stars now hidden by yellow street lamps. We unhitched and I was put against the wall. He signed us in, 01.20am. They searched the book for finishers and their times. They gave each other a hug and the adrenaline soon wained. It was back into the field for us and some well-earned sleep.

For those who are interested here is the route stats and info.

We are home now. Warm and clean. He is sharing his adventures with Jade and Stella. Acts of heroism and endurance of epic proportions but what I can fathom is that he had a great time. The SouthLakes100 was the perfect jigsaw. It all came together to portrait a perfect picture. We rode for Jenn and we rode with friends old and new. Thank you Richard. Love you Jenn xx.

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