I made it. Okay, I know that might sound semi-pathetic it only being a one night adventure but considering how I felt in the first few minutes of setting off I’m pretty chuffed to have completed it.
I used to ride with panniers to work but they were never that heavy but I did vaguely remember how differently the bike handled with them on but I was confident I’d adapt quickly this time round. I strapped on the additional 20kg of weight and set off. Instantly I felt as though the bike was trying to throw me off while barely moving up the first drag due to the increased weight. I briefly thought that I was going to wobble into traffic and do myself a mischief but that soon passed and got used to the additional weight and handling differences and just got on with it, albeit at a snails pace.
I took the scenic route to get to Hamsterley forest, riding on roads I’ve never ridden on before, taking in the new views and surroundings. It was nice. Eventually the flat roads of the Tees Valley made way for the hills as I approached the central spine of the country. I seemed to be going up a lot and the constant head wind was an added challenge but I made it there eventually.
I made my way to the area I’d planned to camp at, which was decided upon knowledge of the area and a bit of spy work using Google satellite images. I hid my stuff, swapped over to mtb tyres and set off on a ride. I felt rubbish to be honest, the ride to get there was tiring and being on a 26er for the first time in months felt odd. To top that on a section I knew to be rough I told myself ‘must ride smoothly, mustn’t get a pinch punc……, shit!’. After changing the tube, I thought best to call it a night.
After getting eaten alive from riding through clouds of midges to get back to the night site I set up camp, ate food (using my improvised spoon) and then sat on a wall,drinking an ale while watching the sun go down. It was ace. I was dubious of how I’d sleep as I normally don’t have a problem sleeping while camping but if its after a hard day in the saddle I usually cant wind down enough to drift off. Luckily I had no problems and got a pretty good nights kip no doubt aided by my tog rated thermal socks.
I got sorted and headed out on another mtb ride round the forest. I was tired but seemed a waste being surrounded by such good riding. I didn’t feel too bad actually but was constantly aware that I needed to save something for the ride home. I completed the mtb ride, puncture free, smiling, packed up camp, swapped over to slicks, mounted all my crap and set off back home.
By this time I felt comfortable with the pannier bags on the back, easily moving about out the saddle but my legs were very tired but I seemed to be making great progress and indeed I was. A combination of the relative height difference and wind direction that made the ride there so hard made the ride back an almost pleasure.
Got about 10-11hrs of riding in two days, which I’m pleased with but mainly the adventure element of the trip already has me planning my next, slightly longer trip. Should be good. 🙂