Not put off by the ongoing issue with my knee from the last trip (prepatellar bursitis or a big lump of fluid on it in English) I decided to join another run on the CRM today. I have changed to beefier knee armour and a more appropriate helmet. The original destination of Alnwick was too flooded due to melting snow. 2ft deep fords aren’t a problem but 3ft+ is a bit deep for some reason. The guides therefore made the obvious choice of heading for high ground with large amounts of snow, the target being Alston, a favourite of mine on a road bike and one of the highest market towns in England. If there’s weather around, this is where you’ll find it.
The start of the run saw me falling off into thick mud early on as I was trying too many new things at once but that was my only proper fall of the day. We went through the same ford as last time, the water was a bit deeper due to meltwater but the CRM didn’t seem to mind. As we got higher, the snow got deeper and its amazing how much grip you do and don’t have on snow/ice. We ended up snow plouging up a hillside in 1ft deep snow. That wouldn’t have been so bad but the frozen heavily rutted ground underneath was hidden meaning 1ft deep snow at your front wheel might be 3ft deep where you put your foot down to stready the bike. Fun. The CRM started overheating during the hill climb and needed several cooling off periods, packing the engine with snow to cool it down quicker.
Comical moment of the day was getting flung from the seat and landing standing next to the bike, hands still on the controls and carrying on walking alongside the bike without stopping :).
Eventually we made it to Alston. I was totally drained and ready for lunch (cumberland sausage). After lunch the guides laughed evily to themselves and headed off. Hmm, thats never a good sign. I didn’t find the first bit too bad, the next bit I had a go at ploughing the lead track and the bike had a hissy fit, literally where it spat its overheated radiator water out creating a nice steam cloud and making me seriously wonder if I’d holed the cooling system. At ths point I just got off it, leaving it standing in deep snow (no stand needed) and had a lie down in the snow to cool off myself.
40m ahead the next gate was found to be buried deeply in the snow and the guides seriously considered turning back. We’d split into two groups and the other group then arrived so we suggested they dig the gate out which they did and we continued on into ever deeper snow. With a groove to follow ploughed by bikes with bigger engines and better cooling this wasn’t so bad apart from me being totally worn out and aching all over. At the end of this trail some tarmac appeared thankfully and whilst there were some further lanes, the rest of the trip back was much easier.
I tried not to write an essay this time and failed. Pictures are worth 1000 words and whilst a lot haven’t come out well with the camera phone:
This shows the kind of conditions. The riderless bike is my CRM, there is no stand down and its up to its axles in snow, a comparatively shallow bit!
This looks back where at where we’ve just been from the same spot. Very nice scenery. That trench is at least 1ft deep and never usually that straight, you can see it wind around more in the background.
This is at the end of the nasty bit, with everyone (both groups) taking a breather. The decent we’ve just made is the snow between the two walls at in the centre of the picture at the back. I would have enjoyed that bit if I wasn’t so tired, it had a river running down the middle from the meltwater and was good fun.
The endorphins from today are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and it was a real challenge and good fun. I’m sure its doing my fitness some good too so I’m looking forward to the next trip out.