Helping out with a day out planned by Haggs Bank Bunkhouse, I had my first day of leading a group for people I didn't know, some lads from Watford up for the weekend...
We rode the Alston to Hexham route which had the usuals of some mud, snow, rain & some great laughs!!
I met Danny, the owner of Haggs Bank at his spot, we had a nice full english for breakfast, with a bit of chat, then the guys turned up, it was like a KTM factory test, all orange & shiny!! KLIM kit abounded too, so very well set up they were!! Much better than Danny & I on my DR & his CRF!
After the introductions & obligatory faffing around, we set off for the first lane, a steep rocky downhill where one of the lads decided to get very up close & personal with a rock on the side of the lane... close call... This was followed by a puncture at the bottom of Tynehead, then a play in the mud, snow & rocks on the way over Coldberry End.
Danny left us after Coldberry as he wasn't feeling too well, so the guys & I headed off to H lane & on towards Hexham. I missed out some of the more technical stuff on H lane due to time restraints. We then had some fun in the first river crossing of the day as one of the lads on his two stroke dunked the bike properly into the river requiring us to drain the engine & airbox before heading out again.
After this we had a few of the smaller lanes before dropping into Hexham for some fuel & food. We found a great little cafe called the Wentworth which is in a huge car park, so we could still see the bikes as we ate... great, food, nice views with the cute little waitress, what more can you ask for!! ;-)
Back on the road, the wind was pretty strong for the next sections, blowing us off the tracks but really just adding to fun of the day. We scared a hare out of the undergrowth, it shot off across a field at a right rate of knots, we saw deer, some rabbits & a huge buzzard flew right across the trail in front of me at one point... Great stuff...
The final lanes of the day saw us have some more fun in the mud, cross the river again at Limestone Brae, where we met some Land Rovers & an angry farmer. He was fine with us, but cursing the land rover drivers who had clearly upset him in the past, creating a load of mess on his land winching each other out of the mud, then getting stuck in the river & pulling stones from his walls to make banks to get the vehicles out. The lady at the top of the hill was also fuming as she keeps having to clean the road from their passage as the mud left behind sprays all over the place... not a happy bunch of local people on the whole, this needs a bit more positive management I feel, especially from the 4x4 people!
On the whole, these southern boys were all better riders than me, a couple of them have raced & all of them have clearly spent a fair bit of time on two wheels & off road, that makes things easier in some ways from a guiding point of view, they knew how to sort out issues like the flooded two stroke & more importantly how to ride the lanes without causing too much damage. I'm sure they'll all be back at some point for some more fun in the north!
On the last but one lane, I managed to get myself crossed on a rut which bounced me leftwards, just as the wall had a bulge in it, which I hit! it broke my top cowl & left indicator, so a bit more repairs to do on the DR!! Oops..
Hey ho, on the whole though a great day out, some good laughs, a few small epics & a lot of smiles!!
The joys of riding a bike again!!
Haggs Bank are running a weekend fun event at the end of March... have a look at March Moto Madness