I am a great fan of the Dark Peak District. No matter what the weather it always rides well. Also, I like the fact you can start from one location and pick and mix many different climbs and descents, all coming back within a few km of the start enabling plenty of ‘bang out’ options. You can also string out some massive loops for that endless ride feeling when the days are longer and the weather more inspiring. Saturday had a group of six of us embarking on a nice little loop, setting off from Hope and heading into the Hope Valley for a couple of km before getting off road. We were made up of Sam Jones, John Summerton and myself from RAF Coningsby, Andy Harrison from RAF Scampton, Dave Hunt from Marham and my nephew Matt. For the first climb, we headed up what I have always called the Roman Road. It isn’t actually, but after a couple of km lumpy climbing it does put you onto one just under Win Hill. We followed this until Hope Cross before dropping down the wet and rutted descent into Blackley Clough. Here, we took just another small climb before winding out our forks to full travel ready for the fun to begin.
Up to this point, the beautifully tuned DW link had proven itself well. The Pro Pedal on the RP23 High Volume is redundant on this frame. There truly is no pedal induced bob – it just puts all the energy into turning the wheel. That said, it is still so plush that it gobbles up the square edged steps and small cobbles alike. With the saddle dropped, you feel like you are sitting in the Spot rather than on it. This inspires massive confidence when you point it back down hill. The descent down Blackley Hey went in a blur as I rocketed towards the A623. This is an old favourite of mine. At the bottom, whilst waiting for the rest of the gang, I had time not only to get the camera out, but also to reminisce when I first rode this back in 1993 on my old Giant Cadex with canti brakes and no suspension. I remember my eyes actually aching from the vibration and the sickening feeling of un-peeling my fingers from the brake levers and bars – who else remembers that?
The climb up past Rowlee Farm is steep. V steep. I was super-impressed watching John win the Polka Dots with his 1x9 gear set up winding his way up there. But, on the super fast descent to the Derwent Reservoir via Lockerbrook Farm, I won the
prize of op ening the gate for everyone at the bottom – again, having time to get the camera out. You see, this is the thing with this Turner – it’s no lightweight, especially with the durability build I have opted for. But it climbs so well on the techy stuff, it makes it fun. And descending, it truly is the best bike I have ever ridden. It floats and feels like it is never running out of travel, even when at the bottom, the o-ring on the shock tells a different story.
A tarmac transit around the Ladybower Reservoir put us at the foot of an awesome little challenge. The cobbled climb up to the National Trust mill under Derwent Edge is a killer. It starts off fine, but I always like to use it as my fitness benchmark, especially the last few metres which are punctuated with drainage bars, just as the gradient reaches near impossible. Again, the Turner lapped this up – I believe, the only bike to be pedalled the entire way to the first gate. No doubt though, had John had the granny ring, he would have done it, especially seeing the way he honked past me giving him enough time to dismount, walk the last few metres and open that gate for me just as I arrived, nearly bringing up a lung or two.
The singletrack across Derwent edge is a treat. Not fast, but distupted with mystery puddles that sometimes contain an unhappy ending – putting riders over bars and nice little drop-offs where you can practice your manuals and power wheelies in
preparation for the next bit. With a tail wind we booted it down Whinstone Lee Tor.
An amazing descent, with multiple line choices. You can go smooth or pick any of the many obstacles and use them to bounce from one to the next, clearing ruts, clumps of heather and tufts of grass. Again, the Spot showed just how adaptable it is, flicking from one line to the next, and getting me out of trouble on several occasions where I set myself up for a bee-line through a boulder field. After a short traverse, the descent to the Ladybower House at Ashopton provided another photo opportunity, although the group seemed to be moving so fast at this point, none of my photos were usable.
A peaceful transit on the road, over the Ladybower dam and then down through Thornhill to Shatton, left us with the biggest climb of the day. Starting with a log tarmac ramp onto Shatton Moor, the gradient eased as the surface became loose again. Behind the comms mast, it levelled out shortly ofter Matt, still getting used to SPDs had a moment and fell into the ditch still clipped in. Rolling round the head of Shatton Edge to Robin Hoods Cross gave us a chance to flush as much lactic out of our quads before it was again time for saddles down. The final drop was epic. It starts with fast double track which propels you into an awesome berm. Then, the gradient steepens and you are forced to control your speed as you work your way over marbles, babies heads, sand and slabby drop offs – all within 1.5 km. Simply great!
After an adrenaline fuelled debrief at the bottom, we took the off-road option from Bradwell, behind Castleton Cement works before dropping back into Hope for tea, cake and medals at the Woodbine Cafe. A great day, with some new faces, some great weather and a terrific bike. Thanks all!
Happy trails - Sam Bennett Exped & Touring Secretary