Hayden is one of the guys we spoke to when we were hiring for Bristol. He met Ade and the subject turned to bikes, as it often does with Ade!
Hayden got a pair of our Long Way Home shorts and Ade suggested a couple of trails to check out around Dartmoor.
Earlier this week, Ade received this e-mail from Hayden, and after reading it in bed, thought it'd be nice to blog his story --
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My friends and I went for the ride on Dartmoor a couple of weeks back and had a great time. And just made it out alive.
Over a few ales and much bike fettling the night before we decided to do a 30 mile loop starting at the Warren House Inn which took us over many a moor and many a great descent, to which I'm glad I took my goggles that day cos it was like I had a spinkler system on my handle bars aimed directly at my face. I had just invested in some waterproof socks and gloves for the ride, as well as the new shorts, which were amazing.
I can't remember the direct route we took as I don't have a copy of the map. But we left the Inn from a little car park just down the road from it and continued on the same side of the road onto the Moorland. Where one of the first great downs was. This took us past a little farm and a road crossing and up a big hill where there was a circle of stones. I belive this was around Hameldown. Where I hammered it down the hill.
From there we crossed the road again and directly picked up the bridal path where there is a huge wooden chair in the middle of nowhere (Jacobs somewhere???).
After a bit of posing for pics with the chair we continued along the path, which was nice and fast again and very muddy. Took a high line and dropped off in to a pit of mud which sucked my front wheel under causing me to spill over the front. Pity my helmet cam had decided to turn itself off just before that. A couple of bruises later and a giggle, we were on our way.
The landscape around there was truely amazing. With the view of some tors close by and there bizare rock formations. It looked like another planet as we rode alongside and they past behind one another.
The next part of the ride I don't remember too much about as we were putting some miles behind us, but we ended up doing a very rocky and rutter down which went through a wooded section and ended up on a lane. Close to Manaton I think. That was a good one.
This took us to Lustleigh woods. And coming down a descent on the opposite side of the nutcracker. One I have done before which ends up at a river at the bottom with two bridges.
After a swift break, chai tea, carrot cake energy bar and some maltloaf we were off again.
Climbing nutcrackers we decided that we were a long way from the car and at the apex of the ride and had better be heading back. So we took a little used bridal path (fox something???) about half way up it which was well trodden by horses in the past.
Once we had finally found the road again we ended up next to the river again with a stone bridge. Which I had passed a few years before on another ride. But at this point the time was getting on and we were still a long way out.
After a good study of the map we decided to stick to the roads at least to eat up some of the distance of the return journey. Man the roads down there are relentless. Up down, back up, down again. Didn't help that my front mech would only shift manually to the granny ring and that my legs were deciding to cramp a little.
With a map check at every junction we somehow managed to keep on track and make it back on to the moorland, but after a very long climb up. It was after this climb and after the wind had tried it's upmost to blow us back down it that my legs turned to lead. Nearly every step was excruciating. Didn't help that a lot of the bridal path was unrideable, as being in the saddle took the pressure off of my legs. Just had to grit my teeth and press on. As the darkness was drawing closer and the sky was beginning to bruise.
Still no sign of the Inn in sight and it's white beacon of hope. My friends suggested taking the trail across the next moor in front of us. I knew full well that if I was to step foot on it that I may not make it out alive.
Not being one to let the team down I pressed on and luckily we all saw a car pass in front of us on a before hidden road.
Right.... we are getting on that and it will take us back to the Inn. If I fall over one of you can get the car at least.
Within five minutes it was dark and hailing. Our fingers were frozen, energy depleated and we had no lights and a few rollercoaster miles of road to cover. I was again glad of my goggles as the other guys were having their faces exfoliated with small sharp fast pieces of ice. And I was warm in my goggle/snood combo.
Eventually the car park was in sight and we stumbled in on our bikes. Oh the relief I thought. But it wasn't over yet. Better not to think about getting naked in the dark hail and cold, and into warm clothes and putting the bikes on the back of the car with only the use of my thumb and fore finger on each hand. Just get on and do it.
After a little pain and selfish squabble to warmth. Every man for himself style with a little histerical laughing 'bout now and then. Before pulling out of the carpark and setting down at the Inn.
I love that place. Blast of warmth as we entered. It had nearly burnt down before we got there too as it was filled with smoke.
Pint of ale in thawing hand and the food was out quickly. The best steak and ale pie around. Followed by dessert consisting of another main course as I had a few hours of drving to do.
Recapping and laughing at the days ride in front of the fire with orange faces. 30 odd miles covered, 6 hours in the saddle in one of the worst months to ride on Dartmoor.
It was a splendid day though. And the Long Way Home shorts were fantastic. Many which I own and have used need a tweak now and then mid ride. Don't change a thing with them. They are perfect.
Gave them a good thrashing at Cwmcarn and Afan this week too.