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   Red Pike: By Bike   Page 1

Far up in the North East Lakes is a beautiful mountain with a Bridleway running right over the top of it! But should you go and ride it some day?

Holy heart attack
Where do I start with this tale of mayhem, masochism and misadventure? We all knew it was going to be tough, Himalayan Sherpas when asked about Tom Owen make elaborate excuses or run off wailing something about ill omens. The omens for this ride were so sick they were in intensive care and not expected to last the day. It was the middle of the monsoon which had apparently come early this year and we set off in good spirits up the Honister Pass on a nice, gentle 1 in 4 road climb. By the time we reached the slate quarry at the top of the road my heart rate was around 240 (at least it felt terminal) and the rain was reaching the parts other rain doesn't reach.

Like a bunch of wusses (OK, it was mostly me) we sheltered in one of the quarry sheds venturing out only when it became obvious such cowardly behavior was futile. A wide steep quarry road zig-zags up the side of the pass and we were soon reduced to pushing on the loose slate. Rain water pouring from my helmet made my right eye so sore that I had to close it and ten minutes later when I opened it again it felt slightly worse! Having climbed in to the clouds in the high quarry, fog and multiple tracks made the way ahead less than clear.

Stop you crazy lost people! 
I unpacked my Pocket PC and Memory-Map showed our position, route, altitude and what we were having for lunch. No chance of getting lost at least, I cautioned against dropping too far down the quarry road so we all shot off until we reached it's boggy bottom end. A little more GPSing had us back on track and what a track it was, cut in to the steep right flank of the Warnscale Beck this was the slipperiest rock I had ever ridden.

No flow
I boldly sent Paul out in front as a 'mine sweeper' he dutifully located several sick, lethal patches apparently with his face. After three or more somersaults worthy of a Hollywood stuntman the conditions improved slightly, turning from green flowstone slick-rock to wet rubble and I took the lead from our brave but battered decoy. A wide double switchback allowed multiple line choices, all of them loose, large and lairy. At this point the rain stopped and the sky lightened, this has to be one of the most spectacular trails I've ever been down but many sections were just too steep and green to attempt, we never got the flow going.

A couple of minutes later we reached the Lakeside trail and a mile or two of easy spinning and a few rideable climbs on the way to the foot of Red Pike. Some bright spark had re-laid the steep path with irregular slabs and boulders in the form of rough steps which we heaved our bikes up like hopeless slaves in a sad Escher lithograph, where there is simply no down. The general lack of down was beginning to get me er, down, when we reached the spectacular lake.

Disappearing mystically in to the clouds was a red stairway to heaven, tell me we are not going up there said someone voicing everyone's worst fears. It was so obvious it was painful, it was about this time that the hikers stopped simply telling us we were mad and started taking pictures to prove to unbelievers that we had been there with bikes at all. How much worse could it really get after this? The answer was of course glaringly obvious: a lot. The path turned to loose scree and then rose up seemingly almost vertically through a rock gulley. Like ascending the down escalator this was really dumb and we were getting nowhere fast. > Next Page>

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