1 Nov 2011

“The singletrack across Derwent Edge is a treat”

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

“I came in second after a horrendous tactical decision!”

SAC Tim Robinson aka ‘Greatshepini’ targets the National Masters Track Championships, the Scottish Track Championships and the National Sprinters League with a ride in the World Masters Track Championships just for experience, with a view to having a proper go next year. Unfortunately for me the only true opponent this year was the weather! The sprinters races I entered this year were either rained off before the event or spent sitting in the rain staring at the track.
The National Masters Track Championships took place in the first week of July at Newport Velodrome. The sprint competition on the Friday began with a 200m TT qualifier in which I posted the fourth fastest time of 11.7 seconds. My first race was a three rider affair, always difficult, this time I came in second after a horrendous tactical decision! The next race was a four rider event, one of the others decided to go from the start, so it basically turned into a Keirin, by the bell his legs were dead. I popped out of his slipstream from the back of the group and blasted past for the win. The day then progressed into the evening and I finished up in the ride off for the bronze medal. Once again, my ‘ring rusty’ tactics shone through, seeing me edged out and into fourth place. I was reasonably happy with my speed, but I had a lot to do before the Scottish Championships in a months time, my lack of racing had taken its toll.
August this year saw me travel down to Meadowbank in Edinburgh for the Scottish Track Championships. I wasn’t racing until the Saturday but I went down to the track on the Friday to watch the mens kilo race and the womens 500TT. This was a great night of racing in which Bruce Croall; came only two thousandths of a second off of Chris Hoy’s record kilo time.
The following day was a sprint competition accompanied by the threat of rain. With only the top eight riders from qualifying going through to the quarter finals, things were going to be tough against a field of quality riders. I qualified fifth which I was happy with; though felt I could’ve gone quicker.
Having progressed to the quarter finals I came up against Kevin Stewart, Science in Sport for the best of three rides. He was my opponent is the Scottish team sprint ‘man 1’, so I decided on the tactic of trying to get him to lead me out. He must have had the same idea, as race one and two turned into very slow and cagey affairs; testing one another’s track standing abilities to the limit, I tried to get the other rider in the front. I was unfortunately edged out in both rides; but I was happy with how the races went from a tactical point of view, simply, he was just too powerful! Traditional for the year, rain came with the forecast being the same all weekend, sadly the rest of the championships were abandoned. The results were declared some weeks later and I was given a fifth place.
The World Masters Track Championships took place this year at Manchester and was contested by over four hundred riders. The atmosphere and racing was very intense and the first couple of days saw Manchester Accident & Emergency visited several times. Day four was the 35-39 sprint competition and started with the usual 200m TT qualifying in which I posted the 11th fastest time out of twenty-four riders. Times were really close with only one hundredths between most riders and racing was going to be tight. Racing wise I was dumped out of the first round, although this wasn’t one of my main goals for the season, I was very disappointed.
All in all, quite a good year...