UK Bike/Van Trip – Claire Bennett

The last two years I’ve gone away in winter with the bike to race a multiday Enduro. Back in 2016 I went to Chile to race the Andes Pacifico and in 2017 New Zealand for the Trans NZ & NZ Enduro however this year I chose to stay in the uk. A five day race in winter suits my work pattern however I couldn’t find a country I wanted to visit with a five day race happening so a staycation it was.

I’ve met so many lovely folk as a result of racing back in the days of the UK Gravity Enduro and as a result I’m lucky to have riding buddies dotted throughout the country. I decided I wanted to do a van trip to catch up with some friends and hopefully ride some bikes too!

First stop off, Lake District. 

Although we have the mountains here in North Wales we lack the access to roam on our bikes as easily as the Lakes due to their extensive bridleway network. Hopefully that’ll change for Wales if the open access laws come in to action (fingers crossed!). I met up with Julia Hobson and Rachael Walker to head out in the fells for the day. You’re always guaranteed a healthy dose of climbing out on a lakes ride but that also means you’ll be rewarded heavily! Our route involved heading out from Torver over into the Duddon valley and back over via the Walna Scar road. Perfect lakes ride! 

Ride two involved a short little jaunt up and over Garburn pass and back via the three rivers descent into Staveley.

Ride three was a Helvellyn attempt. Having looked at several mountain weather forecast’s, high winds were inevitable, sometimes you can find forecast saying something more akin to what you want to hear but not his day! We set off to see how far we could get! Off up via Sticks Pass, patchy snow still hanging on. We met a couple of guys heading down, they’d turned back. When the bikes started flying like kites as they carried them they thought better of it! We carried on up to the pass, more continuous snow up to Raise and the winds getting stronger we decided to turn back. It’ll always be there! The descent down back into Glenridding was first class!

Second stop off, Banchory Scotland.

Friends Fay and Lee have made Banchory, Aberdeenshire home so it was good to go catch up with them. With the beast from the east 2 set to roll in getting out riding proved difficult! We managed a couple hour ride/push in the snow in Scolty woods. I only sampled a couple of trails and they were great, techy Scottish singletrack. The forest is littered with trails, definitely going to need to explore more of that! 

With more snow expect It would be rude not to go sliding around in the Scottish hills, so we swapped bikes for boards and took an afternoon sending laps at Glenshee ski area.

Third stop off, Peebles Scotland

The tweed valley, renowned for its fantastic flowy, long, steep, techy handmade singletrack. The mountain bikers valley. I stayed with my friend Cat. With child care sorted for the day we hit up Cademuir forest, always good to ride somewhere new. With snow still lingering, the spring sunshine soon started the great melt. 

We bumped into Lynne & Si Davies and Eilidh Wells out on the trails and joined forces to play out on bikes all together. A great time was had, on a fab little hillside.

Next day I caught up with Rach McDougal and Steve Deas for a ride around the natural trails of Glentress. The climb up to Spooky woods was made interesting by the snow still clinging on! And the first descent was spent whooping and squealing our way down! The rest of the trails were snow free and really great fun! A fab ride topped off with a burger and haggis!

Claire Bennett

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