Saturday, 8 November 2014

Gatescarth Pass - A lakeland classic!!

Well the day arrived, Permit day!! I had applied for the permit to ride this road for our little group of riders in October & never got one, but the November day was on a Friday, so figured I'd try again & hey ho, we got one!! So Gaz, Lucy, Geoff & I set off on the trip... what an epic it turned out to be!

We gathered at our place for the meet up, Geoff turned up with his new KTM 450, it's a 2006 bike & although he's had it about 3 weeks, he's not had time to do owt with it except get it MOT'd, so we did a quick 2 hour loop around some of the North Lakes lanes to see how it was, great fun beastie, so much power, but almost like a two stroke with a nice linear power band then whoosh... it suddenly goes bonkers, a bit of a handful & not a good beginners bike me thinks!!

9am arrived on Friday morning, the XT600, two Ktm's, a 250 & a 450, then the trusty old DR, we were soon kitted up, loaded with bacon butties/tea & ready for the off...

I had planned to do a few green lanes en route, but we left at 9.30, it's an hours ride to the bottom of Haweswater from our place, so 10.30 & with a stop for fuel too, nearer 11 am when we arrived, so that  idea got thrown into the wind, hey ho...

It was slightly wet, with some light drizzle at the start of the route, this just added to the nervousness for our first trip over this notorious traverse, but after a good gossip with the Cumbria TRF boys who were recording the vehicle numbers for the National Park Authority, there was no more procrastinating, it was time to get on with it, so I led off feeling that little buzz you get when you try something new...

The start wasn't too hard, a little slippy but nothing special, then it suddenly kicks steeply uphill & becomes loose, this proved harder & both Geoff & Lucy struggled to get up requiring a little help here & there, we got to a flat spot & had a rest, all feeling different emotions from elation to outright fear!!

Gaz's bike had a moment & wouldn't start once we'd rested, but he eventually got it going & rode the next section up, Gaz's trials experience really helped him out on this kind of trail, he cruised up even on the biggest bike of the bunch!

Geoff struggled with both the new bike & the traction, partially due to lack of skillset for this kind of off road riding but also the bike had an electrical fault which meant the electric start wouldn't work, so everytime he stalled/dropped the bike, he had to kick start it, it is a tall bike, he's got shortish legs, you can guess the rest!!

Lucy just plainly lacked the riding experience & skill for this kind of technical riding, it was a big ask for her really but as always she managed it all, with a few spills, tears & swear words!!

For myself, I loved the riding, I want to do this pass again, I really enjoy this kind of hard, technical stuff, but I also lack the required skills, so fell off three times, with lingering Sciatica, it wasn't pleasant to get falling, picking the bike up & getting off/on for all the gates in the day was just bloody painful, souring the day a little,  which was a shame but that's life!!

Once at the top, Gaz, Lucy & myself waited a bit for Geoff, but then wandered down as there was no sign of him, he was knackered & struggling to get the bike started, so eventually bailed back to Haweswater with a plan to meet us in Kendal. So that left 3 of us to finish the traverse... The southern side is much easier, there is one loose steep section which Lucy had a moment on, (she hates steep downhill stuff at the moment), the sun was now shining & we all got down in one piece... great stuff!!

It was great to see a few folk in Land Rovers coming over the Pass too & interesting to watch the way the vehicles cope with the terrain but also what is needed skill wise & judgement wise to get these trucks over safely... they were having a ball which was fabulous to see!

I had a flat tyre when we stopped at the start of Stile End, so that was forgotten & we headed to Triple D in Kendal for a new inner tube & some fuel. We met back up with Geoff, sat having tea in Morrisons cafe... mmm...

After getting the puncture sorted we headed off to do a bunch of lanes up towards Shap before getting to the Coach Road in the dark. Lucy decide not to do this, so headed around to the other end on the road, losing a part of her exhaust en-route. Geoff, who had a shite headlight, Gaz & I rode the Coach Road in the dark, a first for all of us, loads of water, so reasonable memory recall was needed to avoid the worst bits & hey presto we were at the end where a sulking Lucy had the gate open waiting for us!!

The day finished with Geoff having a problem with his hand guard trapping the throttle open, Gaz had a puncture but rode home anyway, my bike had lost a bolt from one of the handguards & an oil banjo bolt was seeping oil, Lucy's bike was missing the end of her exhaust, some bruises, a sore arse, hungry & thirsty but hey what a day!!!! Can we do it again????

If you get the chance get it ridden!! Its ace...

Here is a couple of vids from a mate in the Northumbria TRF:
North to South
South to North