Inuits have 50 words for snow…

Here in the Peak District I think we could probably come up with hundreds for rain. That’s just one of the thoughts I had when I was riding up Mickleden Edge towards Cut Gate on the brilliant Steel Valley Ride last Saturday. You know that rain that comes in in sheets? That rain that looks like someone is wafting curtain after falling curtain across the hills? Whipped in by a strong south westerly wind, the a rain swept across the moorland edge in waves. One walker, resigned to the conditions glumly encouraged me and the other 130 or so passing riders as we crawled up the hill into the headwind.

Luckily, it was shortlived. Up at the cairn, the rain stopped, the small patch of blue grew and the riders were treated to sunny(ish) skies for the rest of the day.

It was interesting heading up on to Cut Gate. After a decent few weeks of pretty dry weather and reports of it being in good nick, the heavy rain had made its mark and in the Bog of Doom two tell tale springs were bubbling away reminding us all they were there. Mend Our Mountains is done now, so come next year it might be a very different experience riding up that bit of trail.

In fact much of the Steel Valley Ride covers familiar ‘advocacy’ spots. Cut Gate we’ve talked about, but the ride heads into Severn Trent Water’s reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley, before heading up the slabs and on to Derwent Edge – soakaways and drainage sorted by PDMTB for you. Over Whinstone Lee Tor, two cheery but windswept marshalls were telling riders to ‘keep left’ – again directing them to the Peak District MTB line which runs some 600 metres down towards Cutthroat Bridge, meeting the brilliant work done by Moors For The Future to drain the bog at the bottom.

On the return leg, the ride took me along lesser ridden lanes and bridleways of the Sheffield Lakeland region. A place well worth a visit and trails well worth riding, I headed past the dead end bridleways of Foulstone Road and close to the Dukes Road – another couple for the Christmas list.

The Steel Valley Ride is a lovely little event. A small number of riders, on natural trails, raising money for local paths. Brilliant organisers who love mountain biking. Brilliant marshalls encouraging riders all the way. Riding the route, I chatted to riders from all around the Peak District and the surrounding area. Members of all the local advocacy groups and others. One thing that came through loud and clear: there’s a real appetite to make things better for mountain bikers. Better access, better relationships, better events – just like Steel Valley.

And even better, there’s a growing number of people willing to push for it. See you next year!

25 July 2019