Snowy Stake Moss
Some of our club members ventured out during the snowy period over the recent Christmas holiday. Although the sun shone during the day, the riders ended up descending Deadman’s Lane in the dark before climbing the rocky, icy ascent onto Middlesmoor. It was very much on the edge of health and safety requirements – the wrong edge, obviously. Once the guys were back, there were mild recriminations but mainly genuine excitement and pride that they had completed such a challenging day.
The next ride, scheduled for a few days later, was cancelled because of the continuing icy conditions. Instead, we rode out when the temperature had risen a few degrees so would be challenged more by the slithery mud than the snow. For this eventuality I’d had a new pair of tyres fitted – Michelin AC10s – which are road legal yet give fantastic grip in off road situations. These tyres can appear to have masses of tread left when, in fact, they’re shredded. I’d made that mistake in October and had a terrible time descending the aforementioned Deadman’s Lane in very slippery conditions. I came off and smashed my thigh against the handlebars causing a painful and long-lasting bruise. Good tyres are crucial for winter riding.
Off we go….finally
Our day started at Pool Bank. Six of us met up, one of whom was riding a completely rebuilt Honda CRM. I was interested, it used to belong to me. But I never managed to do a proper ride on it because of endless mechanical issues. I have to report it performed perfectly and entertained us with the sound of its lively, pinging two-stroke engine. Less impressive was the puncture caused by a tyre clamp on the Yamaha WR250 which delayed us by 30 minutes just 2 miles into the ride. But at last, we were off and got to the first lane. My eyes were streaming and I couldn’t see. My ‘Buff’ was somehow caught in my mouth and I couldn’t breathe. I managed to get my front wheel up over a slippery root step but had to get help from Mr CRM to give my Honda CRF a shove!
I settled down after that and rode with more confidence and skill.
Trails were wet. We thankfully missed out the Stainburn’s bog in the woods. The next challenge was the river crossing on what we (the TRF) call the ‘permissive’ lane. The farmer lets us ride through his land and we take him a couple of bottles of whisky at Christmas – everyone happy! In fact, the river crossing wasn’t bad but the climb up the wet fields which followed was a bit of a test. But not for me – the new tyres let me zip up the field while others were sliding all over the place! When we got to the Pateley triangle, there was a posse of 4x4s making the most of the easy moorland tracks. Surely a motorbike is much more fun?! A few more lanes and then we stopped for fuel and lunch at Masham where the market was on in the square. We sat outside and enjoyed the scene and the pleasant weather.
We continued to East Witton, through a farm ford and onto the spectacular Yorkshire moors towards Colsterdale. One of our guys came off after a classic ‘cross-rutting’ incident in the slippery mud but he was unhurt. Amidst stunning winter scenery, we took the road to Lofthouse and eventually back to Dob Park ford. The water was running fast and looked deep. We all stared at it for a while. Then, the Yamaha went for it. Then the CRM. Followed by the other Hondas. They all got across, but style points weren’t awarded. Then there was just me and a lot of anxious faces on the opposite bank. “Here goes. Sh*t or bust!” And I made it! Brilliant day. 112 mile round trip and back for tea and medals!