Part of my redunancy package was £1000 that I could spend on "retraining" for a new career, with that in mind I booked myself on to the CTC's MTB trail leader and MTB tech leader courses, both at the Dales MTB centre.
Run by friends Stu and Brenda, its located just to the bottom right of this picture in the fanstastic setting of the dales, the course was run by Sam Cook, one of the legendary mountainbike racers of the early 90's (Sam was a sponsored Orange Bikes rider).
I turned up early on the Monday with an arrangement to go riding with Stu for the day, unfortunately I'd managed to sleep awkwardly and had a crook'd neck :-(, so as Stu had the lawns to cut I went out for a bimble on my own, just along the river and back, but enough to loosen things up a bit.
Tuesday dawned and with it big blue skies and sunshine, too good to miss a ride today, and as the course didn't actually start until 5 that afternoon I decided to explore. Once again heading up river to Gunnerside. I'd long ago seen that there are the remains of lead mines scattered around this area, scanning the map showed at least 2 locations.
Heading uphill in the blazing sunshine proved that my fitness is still sorely lacking, and that despite checking my map several times I managed to miss the right hand turn that would take me into the valley where the remains are, backtracking until I found the trail, I was presented with a lovely swoopy singletrack descent right down to the valley floor, hard to resist letting the Krampus fly.
Had a good long chat with a chap who had walked up the valley to see the ruins, he knew the history of the place well, and we both agreed that whilst we had arrived here for pleasure, the thought of doing a 10 hour shift having walked up from Gunnerside and then back again afterwards was not that appealing !.
Now that I'd dropped all the height, and looking down the valley at some very interseting tracks I decided to head down to Gunnerside by following the river, it was fine for a while, occcasionally getting too technical for my skills which meant the odd carry (also mindful that I was on my own and apart from the walker I hadn't seen anyone for hours).
I ended up in a lovely little wood, that would have been perfect but for the fact that I was carrying a 30lb bike, still it only took half an hour to get through on foot, once down I headed back to the river to follow the trail home, a nice day out, some 30 odd miles covered and back in time for the start of the course.
The course itself was most enjoyable, good folks and a great teacher, Sam has a nice way about him and gets across what he needs to without seemingly any effort, 2 full days of theory and field work and glad to say we all passed, so now I am a qualified MTB trail leader.
Driving home that night meant passing York so I picked up No1 daughter and a car full of stuff to be stored whilst she is away in New Zealand.
Last week was spent at home, just the occasional ride out in between showers, although one day I did get to Delamere for a play out on the new Cotic Solaris.
And then on Thursday finally linking the trans pennine trail with the Middlewood Way so that now when I head into the peaks I no longer have to endure the A6 through Stockport.
After a weekend away in Anglesey with Jan, this week will be all about riding bikes and not drinking, today I went out in the rain on the Salsa Vaya, 28 miles in under 2 hours without really trying at all, maybe there is a hint of fitness finally coming through ?
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