For a while now I've had an idea going around in my head for a longer distance mountain bike ride. Something that would not only test my stamina a little but also take me to areas that I don't normally ride. What I came up with was a 73 mile loop made up of country lanes, cycle paths and off-road sections. It would take me from Derby to a point just north of Hartington, in the Peak District, before turning south and heading back for home. I'd take in Carsington Water, the High Peak Trail and Tissington Trail on route.
The weather could not have been better for the ride. Plenty of sunshine, very little cloud, not too hot and only a steady breeze. There was even a low lying early morning mist to add a little effect to the whole thing! The only problem with that was I wanted to keep stopping to take photos and didn't really have enough time!
|Just 2 miles from home and the first photo stop.|
Sunrise at Alvaston Park.
The first 18 miles or so of the ride were some of the toughest as it was almost all on-road. The tyres on the mountain bike made for a hard ride, the road was climbing for just about every mile and all I could think about was the off-road sections that lay ahead. I wanted to see the back of tarmac! Having said that, this is Derbyshire and there is always something to lighten the mood. The view from near Kedleston Park made me pause for a drink and a quick photo before pressing on.
|View near Kedleston Park.|
The first off-road section of the ride was a great little 4 miles or so alongside the eastern edge of Carsington Water, from Millfields car park to Hopton village. The trail was undulating but rode well. It was dry and grippy but the surface had just enough loose to keep you on your toes. The camera had to come out a couple of times too.
|Arriving at Carsington Water.|
|View over Carsington Water.|
|About to leave Carsington Water.|
After Hopton village came the toughest climb of the ride so far, the drag out of the village up to the High Peak Trail. The road climbs around 300 feet in just over a mile. Nothing to hard on a road bike but I knew about it on a mountain bike, with a rucksack on my back. The climb had its reward though, I was now at the start of the main part of the ride - almost 25 miles of off-road cycle trails.
|High Peak Trail - let the fun begin.|
I'd never cycled the High Peak Trail before but had walked it a number of times, so I knew what the views would be like. It's still a real pleasure to be out in the open though, no matter how many times you travel along the trail. And with the weather as it was, it was even more stunning! I managed to resist stopping too often for photos, but every now and again I used the excuse of having to stop for food or drink as the reason for a quick snap shot!
|Taking in the view...|
|...view over the wall!|
|View from the trail.|
|View from the trail.|
The point at which I would start and turn for home was where the High Peak Trail joined the Tissington Trail. Again, I had to stop for food and to mix another bottle of energy drink. And take a few more photos! Well, you need something as a reminder of rides like this.
|The bike is ready for the Tissington Trail...|
|... all the signs point back where we came from!|
|Enjoying yet another great view.|
Once back on the bike it was a fun 14 miles or so of easy riding down into Ashbourne. The Tissington Trail drops, almost unnoticeable at times, down to the town, losing around 700 feet in elevation. The legs enjoyed this section of the ride - I was able to hold a good turn of speed without any real effort. Save some energy for later in the day! It was also the last time I stopped for photos...
|The old signal box at Hartington station.|
|The view near Hartington.|
From Ashbourne onwards the ride returned to tarmac roads, and the drag of knobbly tyres on a surface they are not best suited to. It was a pretty tough 25 miles or so. The bike felt heavy, I was tiring, the breeze had picked up and was now a head wind. I enjoyed the challenge, but it certainly wasn't as much fun as the two off-road trails had been!
By the time I arrived back at home I'd been out for 6 hours 37 mins. The bike had been moving for a total of 5 hours 11 mins. The total mileage was 72.9 miles and I'd averaged 14.1mph. Not my quickest ride by a long way, but it was one of the more enjoyable ones.... so far!
The Strava details for the ride are HERE.
|The route map.|