Trail Riding in the Yorkshire Dales

Whilst I know some of the roads and places from road motorcycling and camping I’d never been trail riding in the Yorkshire Dales so when the offer came up, I was happy to accept. We met up on the A1 and made our way to Leyburn which was to be our starting point.

I was with a group of people I’ve not really ridden with before, often just passing out on trails so it was a nice change and they seemed like a friendly enough bunch! 🙂

I had no idea what kind of terrain to expect and it turned out to be quite rocky, kind of like the lake district but quite different too. This meant learning a new kind of surface which is always interesting.

I thought I might have gotten away with my rather worn front tyre, in hindsight, I should have changed it as it caused problems with a lack of grip and confidence. The YZ’s gearing was also suboptimal for that kind of terrain and as I couldn’t go slow enough yet have the engine behaving comfortably.

Whilst there had been rain overnight and there was plenty of cloud cover, it was dry and the trails were hence very dusty. At least the cloud cover kept the temperature reasonable.

The trails themselves were rather nice for a change with some interesting variety of different types. Unfortunately one of the group started having problems with a rear tyre puncture. Attempts were made to pump it up but it became clear this couldn’t be sustained. Shortly after that, after being stopped my bike started rattling. It was hard to figure out where it was coming from but it became clear it was from the engine which is never good.

It seemed to be coming from the kickstart area but inside the casing so we did take the clutch cover off to see if anything untoward could be spotted but there wasn’t anything visible. I therefore made the decision just to ride it and see what happened. Through several more trails it became clear that the rattle only happened when the clutch lever was engaged. Clearly this meant I should just not use the clutch so I switched to clutchless/crash gear changes. Unfortunately the gearing made use of the clutch unavoidable on some uphill sections but on the plus side, the noise didn’t seem to get any worse.

At the lunch and fuel stop in Hawes they patched the problematic rear tyre and I noticed my brake light lens had been smashed and gone missing at some point. We set off for the return journey with the warning that an “interesting” uphill section was coming up and a comment about stopping for photos. For the newbie who has never ridden the trail, this is always a good sign.

Initially it didn’t seem so bad but it did indeed have an interesting section. I decided to try and save the clutch but ended up stalling, I turned around to see the person following then falling off in sympathy (sorry)! Once I’d decided to (ab)use the clutch and got going again, I made it up the rest of the steep section without incident other than stalling it again in relief having made it up the worst bit!

Some of the trails are quite a decent length, some of them being old Roman roads and the Yorkshire Dales scenery is spectaular as ever. Sadly I don’t have many photos as I seemed to be going slower than others for whatever reasons and it wouldn’t have been fair to stop the group to get the camera out.

Sadly the patched tube didn’t hold up and we ended up stopping again to change it and put a spare front tube in the rear wheel to replace it. There appeared to be a trials event going on over that section of trail. Changing the tube over seemed easier this time, perhaps as the tyre was loosened up already.

With the various stops we were a little behind schedule but we did decide to put the final loop of trails in and I’m pleased we did since I think these were the most enjoyable of the day for me. The surface was a different type of stone and for some reason I and the bike were a lot happier on it. There were a couple of small fords and some massive eroded tracks. I’ve never seen a road eroded before the “unsuitable for motor vehicles” sign like that before, it did get even worse after the sign too although not enough to trouble an appropriate motorcycle, just made it more interesting. It was they back to Leyburn, load the bike onto the disco and time to head home.

I’m grateful to the group who took me out, I hope I didn’t hold you up too much and thoroughly enjoyed going somewhere new, and being with some different people too!

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