With the forecast showing constant rain for the up and coming weekend we weren't feeling too optimistic about our plans to head up to the Lake District for some walking and riding. Fortunately, we had the luxury of Elliott's van as a base camp so we could at least dry off, and get the kettle on.
The destination for our grey weekend: 'Derwent water' is just a short stroll from the town of Keswick. Around the picturesque lake there are a multitude of tracks, trails and connecting routes for road cyclists, walkers and mountain bikers alike. On the cross bikes we where utilising both the roads and some of the lower and less technical trails, that provided more than enough of a challenge in the wet conditions.
My favourite way to see this area is on a mountain bike. I'd recommend the lakeland classic: 'the Borrowdale bash'. The 'Borrowdale bash' is a 17mile route that loops around Derwent water and the Borrowdale valley. The route features some long road sections but the amazing views and equally excellent descents more than make up for this. The descent after the climb from Watendlath tarn is a particular highlight for me, although potentially quite difficult for the beginner.
Also worth noting is the 'Lodore falls' next to the Lodore hotel on Watendlath Beck. It is located at the southern tip of Derwent water just off the main road (the B5289 to Buttermere) that follows the lake shore. Due to its accessible location it can easily be worked into a walk or ride and is well worth a visit.
At times winter can be a debilitating, demotivating and a down right awful time for the outdoor enthusiast. For me it's definitely a love hate relationship, but one that I've also grown to appreciate.
As a mountain biker varied weather offers up a test of ones skills in negotiating and interacting with a variety of changing surfaces and terrain. It breathes new life into familiar trails. Wet weather moves rocks, erodes paths and changes the consistency of the ground to provide us with fresh line choices and new challenges.
Continuing our outdoor activities through the winter months maintains our relationship with the seasonal change. Being at the mercy of the elements and our mountainous environments demands a more respectful outlook and consequently inspires a degree of appreciation and relief when spring does finally arrive.
Although many of us have to resort to a mild state of hibernation through the winter months it's all about making the initial effort to get out from our warm and comfortable dwellings to experience the season that we can so easily lose touch with.
Living close to the Lake District where I spend most of my free time, you either find the good in being wet, cold and covered in mud or you don't. It’s a state of mind that you have to embrace to really enjoy it. I find the cold and rain ignites your sensory receptors like a cold shower. It really does make you feel alive, and I have to admit some of my most enjoyable and memorable rides have been in the worst of the weather.
Most importantly, it makes that post ride brew something to behold, and all the more enjoyable as you clutch it close to your chest in an attempt to regain some of the warmth and feeling back in your hands and body.