…is good. But two days is even better.
I had a weekend, I had a plan. And it went something like this.

Saturday morning. Sun shining. Set off from Staveley.
Here’s the plan:

Things weren’t looking up though. New pads at the front didn’t work properly (technical incompetence on my part as I found out later) and I popped a rear spoke as I rode up past Dubbs reservoir. I thought spokes snapped when you were bouncing downhill?

Despite this, you couldn’t knock the weather as I headed up towards the start of High Street -the old Roman road.

I wasn’t the only one out. I teamed up with a Manc who’d come up on the train for the weekend and was riding over to Penrith. The trail got steeper until we reached the gate where the pushing started.

There’s always some pushing in the Lakes. Eventually it stops, although not quite yet…

But it’s worth it for the views. What a place to be!

Soon the top is in sight, an easy ride along the ridge on the left.

The views include one down to Hayeswater. It looks quite pretty now – a far cry from the gale-battered spot we turned back at in March.

The views chop and change as I ride along the ridge. The first section fast and jumpy (but not for me with a missing spoke) and then it becomes Industrial Fell staple – wet, peaty bogs where inevitably I fall off. But I don’t care.

Eventually I roll out at Pooley Bridge, and it’s head down spinning along the road to Dockray and the start of the old Coach Road. Three Landrovers ahead – “Let’s off-road!” – who are courteous enough to pull over and let me past (eventually). And straight down the C2C into Keswick to hit the bike shop just before closing.

I stay at Derwentwater YHA. No longer very popular with the youth, staying there makes me feel positively juvenile.

Next morning breaks chill and a little misty.

No chance to stretch my legs as the road swings around up to Watendlath for the popular descent to Rosthwaite. It quickly becomes apparent why it’s a hit. An easy start

kicks into a very steep gully which spits you out at a gate. From here it’s steep and quick, the noise from my Swiss tourist souvenir cowbell alerting the ramblers to my out-of-control descent. And I’m at the bottom!

This next section looks good on the map – it’s a bridleway! I’ve no idea what it’s like on the ground. First I head towards Greenup Gill, and then it’s a right turn along Langstrath Beck.

It’s like a Wordsworth watercolour!

The track meanders along the valley bottom to the foot of Stake Beck, where the stream drops down from Angle Tarn. Time for a last glance down towards Borrowdale.

Then it’s up the grassy ridge beside the stream. It soon kicks up. Steep, steeper and steeperer. What am I doing here?
But in twenty minutes I’ve pushed, pulled, coaxed and hauled 33lb of overweight bicycle to the top of Stake Pass.
I’m riding again but not for long. The descent into Langdale is, well, steep and very rocky. All I’m up for is to admire the view.

The riding improves and I’m on tracks down Langdale, drop into Elterwater and a short climb later I’m at the start of Loughrigg Terrace.
Loughrigg Terrace? On a Sunday afternoon? With my reputation?

Well, the cowbell does it’s trick – dispersing the rambling masses apart from the Mutt and Jeff amongst them.
I can even ride through the lake without becoming submerged!

The riding continues – Ambleside, Jenkins Crag, Troutbeck, all a gentle, hazy reminisce.
At Limefit Park the shop’s shut, but there’s a drinks vending machine to top up my bladder – need it too, my two litres from this morning have evaporated.
Now for the last (almost) climb of the day – Garburn Pass. The ascent part riding, part pushing.

It’s a familiar view from the top, but not one to disappoint

and all too soon I’m opening the gate at Kentmere. Of course no ride down Garburn would be complete without the Sawmill Cottage descent – and it doesn’t disappoint.
As I ride into the Staveley car park it starts to drizzle.

Memories of stunning panoramas
Stale garlic in the youth hostel dormitory
and some of the most fantastic riding in the country

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Some stats for those interested…..
Day 1: 67km 1880m climbing
Day 2: 55 km 1964m climbing