Words and Photos by: Kona Ambassador Ben Gerrish
Instagram can be a dick. It can raise you up and in that same throw of the dice can make you consider selling your bike, your van, and moving into a cave. I too am guilty of having an account that could easily be described as a highlights reel. But, I also like to think it can be inspirational of how much fun can be had on a bike, even though I sometimes feel I should be more honest about the structure.
I prefixed with this introduction, as a quick scan of the photos below, tell the tale of an idyllic weekends adventure… and you know what, it was. What’s better than packing up the bikes with food, water and camp gear and headed into the mountains for the night. But it’s taken time to get there with Mol. A 12 year old is a stubborn thing, it would also appear everything is type 2 fun for them. Likely a fuss at the time, but often remembered fondly when recounted to friends and family at a later date. We have had MANY failed riding plan as well as some absolute epics. I am nothing if not persevering (maybe stubborn, I wonder where she gets it from) and it was worth every ounce of effort.
The forecast looked on point, the days are long and we had a route in mind. We also had a rare weekend with nothing planned/booked/lodged in the middle, nowhere to be, no timescale, no one to please but ourselves. So often we are faced with a short snippet of time, to grab the bike, hit the hills or trails, get it done and then back to real life. I am lucky enough to ride often, but this unadulterated time together, outside, was a dream.
Whilst I took the bulk of the camping gear, Mol was adamant she was to carry her own kit. She attached her front cradle and she diligently compressed and packed her sleeping bag, mat, some warm layers for later and she attached them to her bike, ready! She also decided to take her own snacks and “bits” in a small rucksack, we’ll get to that.
I have a firm disregard for an out and back route, so I had planned a classic loop. Day one we were to navigate the lowland woodland trails, climb a few KM of fire road into the quarries then follow some well worn paths to the top of the hill, then B line for the nearest sheltered, flat-ish spot and camp up, just before dark. The lower level singletrack was divine, still dusty from a week of sun, twisting through lush grass and big trees. Once we got up into the quarries and fells the tracks became steep and I am not ashamed to admit we pushed, and we pushed, but the end was in sight. We topped out the trail half an hour ahead of our schedule and hunted out a sheltered spot, with a good outlook for the next mornings sunrise.
As we settled down to our home for the night Mol was getting herself set up. She was incredibly prepared, for all eventualities, apparently. She revealed from her bag, that she had so carefully packed and carried up the hill herself.
Her pyjamas, I opted to sleep in my riding kit.
Playing cards, I guess I had planned to stare at the view until bed.
A small octopus teddy, I had the dog for cuddles.
Suncream, ever prepared.
A snorkel… I had no come back for this.
We boiled up some water and got stuck into our rehydrated dinners, pleasantly surprised! Chilli ‘Non’ Carne is now a firm favourite. A well stowed beer, somehow still not too warm and a few games of cards (thanks Mol) later we bedded down to truly discover how off camber and lumpy our chosen bedroom was, luckily the hard graft of the climb had done us in and we were soon out, regardless.
The morning did not bring quite what we’d been promised by the forecast, but we had no time to worry about a bit of clag, we had more than 500m of descending to do. A solid team effort had the tent downed and bikes packed up in no time, mainly owing to the excitement of dropping in.
Molly led the way, picking her way down the loose rocky and in parts technical descent with ease, even with the large bag strapped to her bars. Not something she was used to at all, but taken in her stride. Her line choice was immaculate, towing me through a few sections that in past rides I’ve used speed and ignorance to navigate. The last more solid few KM flew past quickly and before we knew it we were down and leaning our bikes up at the small cafe in the village. A well earned hot chocolate and a massive slice of cake for Molly and a coffee to counteract the uneven night’s sleep, for me.
What an epic adventure, for us. It wasn’t far, but it didn’t need to be, it was perfect. Mol didn’t once utter a single word of complaint, no matter how steep, tough, lumpy or drizzly it was. She was a hero. I wonder if we have surpassed the type 2 fun? Only instagram will tell?!