Difficult to capture the level of exhilaration after a perfect day out on the motorbike. We enjoyed one such today, riding on the lanes and trails of South Yorkshire and the edge of the Peak District.
Hondahontas enjoying the snowy trails
As is usually the case, I don’t know exactly where I’ve ridden, preferring to rely on the ride leader who brings many years’ experience and a satnav device. He told me the whole ride (approx. 110k in distance) was contained within a square measuring about 10 x 15k. In this area, a number of the trails are subject to a DMMO (definitive map modification order) which means they are ‘under discussion’ and will soon no longer be available to ride legally. As a member of the TRF, I have been impressed by the lengths to which its members go to avoid riding any trails illegally. We ‘offroad’ motorcyclists are not popular but in my opinion, anyone who hasn’t ridden a motorbike off-tarmac is missing one of life’s super-charged experiences.
The day was cold but not as cold as the preceding week, so the snow and ice were just beginning to melt giving a good amount of grip. I run Michelin AC10s but there are many types of nobbly tyre and they are essential for these conditions. They also need to be run fairly soft, for me, about 16psi which gives grip on the mud, ice and snow but is not too squirmy on the road.
Our group of 6 set off from Denby Dale at 9am. We were quickly onto some heavy, scrambly tracks up through woods and down through streams. There is never an easy start. You have to just get on it immediately which for me means getting to grips with the heft and handling of the sturdy Honda CRF250L, which weighs 130 kilos as against my 58! A few easier farm tracks followed and then as we climbed higher, we hit the snow and ice. The wind farm high above Penistone was huge and impressive with the steady thrum of its spinning blades.
As we headed west towards the Peak District, the landscape was whiter and the hills were hazy in the distance. We reached the Snow Road at Langsett but the first challenge was to get onto it because the snow had drifted deeply onto the verge and blocked the gate. All the bikes needed to be pulled through leaving the guys fairly exhausted. Then it was a question of simply following the rut in the snow for 2 kilometres. The more experienced riders can do this much faster than the less skilled! Two of our Yamaha riders showed us how it was done.
Towards Holme Moss there is a superb, undulating trail running past Yateholme reservoir. It had the remnants of the snow and ice on it. The challenge was simply to stay off the brakes. Trust the bike to find its own way down the descents. On the climbs, I’ve been told to sit back. Straighten my arms, and push through the pegs so that the traction goes through the rear wheel. This gives the best chance of climbing slippery ascents. The other key thing is to keep going at all costs! I was pleased with my riding on the day. I managed to get up the twisty, icy Cheesegate Nab Side without any difficulty. Well, obviously, you’d want to clean Cheesegate Nab Side because it’s got such a great name!
The day ended with delicious local beer. All we needed was the third item in the holy trinity of motorbiking - pie!