Friday’s weather was, as predicted, very wet. Luckily I had decided on Thursday night to put everything in the car – road bike, mountain bike, climbing gear, walking stuff, running stuff – the whole lot went in, so the rain did little to spoil our plans!
We decided to head to Whitbarrow Scar for a bit of a jaunt on the mountain bikes. For those of you who don’t know this area, it has some interesting riding and limestone trails, they are linked by quite long sections of road, but it is good when the weather isn’t on your side. I found this great fun but a little trickier than back home; the limestone gets pretty slippery when it’s wet, and I find it much less predictable than the rock in the peaks as it seems to throw the bike in every which direction. Anyway, this was great practice for me as I am trying to master my technique. I still have a habit of riding the bike like a horse! Staying glued to the saddle and gripping with my knees – as you can imagine I look a little odd, but I always get down!
Luckily the weather picked up on Saturday. It was not quite dry enough to climb after the amount of rain we had so I decided to take the road bike out. We planned a 60km ride (trying to up my distance at the moment) around Cumbria including Hutton Roof and Silverdale. This was so enjoyable, especially how warm and sunny it was – almost like spring! There were some beautiful sections of flatter winding road which I enjoyed; it makes a change from Sheffield which is either straight up or down! Plus I think I will almost admit, clip-in pedals are better than flats – there were only a few hairy moments on the ride, but that was more due to trying to set off in the wrong gear and losing balance than anything else. The one thing I did get a bit wrong though was food – I didn’t eat enough while out riding. Nearing the end of the ride I certainly hit a bit of a wall, I was telling my legs to pedal, but they just stopped. Luckily Wolfhouse Kitchen Cafe was not far away, and I soon got my required cake fix (chocolate cheesecake brownie – so good) and made it back in one piece!
Sunday we decided to head to Raven Crag, Langdale for a spot of multi-pitch. This felt like a bit of a gamble as looking out of the window at breakfast; the weather looked pretty bleak and foggy. However the moment we got to Ambleside it lifted to reveal glorious sunshine – the best day it’s been so far this year. I was keen to have a go at leading as I have never lead multi-pitch before. After a bit of warming up, it was my turn! I found it okay and got the hang of it the further I went – the hardest bit was making sure everything was neatly organised from my belay point – things were certainly safe, but I could work on sorting the rope out better!
We also had some slightly entertaining moment with in-situ gear. Particularly on one route; I was seconding and came to a what I thought was Tom’s blue cam. Now as I am sure you know, gear is not cheap, and it is a cardinal sin to leave it behind..! But this cam was stuck – believe me, I tried – at first gently then as time went on anyway I could just to get a shred of evidence how stuck it was! Huffing and puffing I had to give up; my arms were about to give way. So I continued up preparing my argument for leaving the valuable item behind (it was so over-cammed, what were you thinking putting it in there etc.)! Anyway, I soon found out there was no need; it turned out the cam had been there some time and was certainly not budging! So we continued with only one other minor situation, this time a very new looking piece of cord tied to the rock – again I was totally flummoxed how to undo it (fisherman’s knot I think or something similar). Again I was told, after some time, it was not ours. So slightly tired I took out the nut near-by clipped it on my harness and moved on… only when I reached the top did I see that the nut I had so carefully attached to my harness lying on a small ledge about half way down – argh! Luckily I was forgiven and not sent to retrieve it!