Riding your bike is great; it takes you away and allows you to think. It allows you to empty your head and start again, be creative and chase a goal. It allows you to focus your mind and push your body, or... you can forget all of that, and just ride.
If you are reading this and thinking of joining the latest climbing craze of “Everesting” be warned… you might just catch the “Everesting Bug” This, I guess, is what happened to me in June this year, after completing my first Everesting on GreatDun Fell. The 140 mile ride took 15 hours and totalled over 31,000ft of ascent. Three weeks later I was battling with the iconic Hardknott Pass, 30x up the savage climb was enough to claim Everest number two.
August was here and it already felt as if summer was fading, the days were shortening and the temperature cooler, not badly but it was a sign of things to come. I had an idea for a third Everesting, but knew it wouldn’t be too long before the changing seasons would bring a halt to any such plans.
Originally from a mountain biking background, I entered my first race aged nine, my older brother Jack raced and bikes were always in the family. This meant spending many a weekend up and down the country at whatever race was on at the time. It was a great experience and went on for a good few years, after which things drifted. I found myself dipping in and out of cycling up until the age of 27, I then started training and entered a few mountain bike enduro events. I did a bit of traveling and raced a few times in Australia, before finally returning home and buying a road bike in August 2012. I really enjoyed the switch to road cycling but would still miss the dirt now and again; with this in mind it seemed simple… The third Everest would be Off-Road.
To qualify as an Off-Road Everest, the whole ride would need to be ridden on a dirt road/track/path/MTB trail etc, but definitely no tarmac. I figured some kind of woodland fire track would fit the bill, hopefully not too rough and with a steady gradient. My partner Mairi and I headed to the Lake District in search of such a climb, after speaking to a few locals we were pointed in the direction of Chapel House Wood near Newby Bridge. It turned out to have what seemed a very suitable climb, 1.2 miles of fire track that twisted its way steadily up through the woods. The tracks surface was varied, overall it was pretty hard and compact, but with some looser rough sections thrown in too. The plan was to hopefully use the road bike with a set of 25mm, treaded winter tires, and as long as I picked my lines carefully it looked as if it should be possible.