MTB Staycation | Going off-piste in the Peaks
Find your adventure... With Staycations on the cards this year for many of us this year, we have decided to find some of the best Road, Mountain, Gravel and Leisure cycling routes and Locations around the UK that provide you with stunning scenery and a sense of freedom! This week, Chris will be riding his Mountain bike, on a circular loop, through Hope Valley, to show you the sights and trails of the Peak District.
I'm Chris and I am a keen Mountain biker, I love nothing more than throwing the bike on the car and heading out, exploring new places and finding new trails. The Peak district is a go-to for me, easy to access, amazing views and some pretty epic trails. You know as soon as you are nearing Ladybower you are in the right place, with bikes everywhere, it's a very popular spot and it's easy to know why. Accessible by car or train (from Sheffield or Manchester) it's a great spot for Walkers, Cyclists and Jockeys alike. The loop I'm going to take you on is a Peak District classic as it takes in the views of Ladybower and Derwent reservoir with some hard climbs and epic descents... it's a great introduction to riding in the Dark Peak.
We are riding a 17 mile loop, with 3 big climbs and 3 great descents and 2000ft of elevation gained. It's a really punchy route, good fitness and bike skills are going to come in handy. Komoot marks this route as difficult and I must say I agree. There are options to extend this route if you are feeling strong, or cut it short if you don't have as much time. It's worth taking in the views and having a snack at the top of each climb as the descents are long and rocky and can really take it out of you. Though I can't imagine you will need much convincing to stop at the top of the climbs anyway - the views are insane.
The Route - Chris' Ladybower loop
This route builds you up nicely, starting with a gentle spin along the road before crossing the dam (push your bike over this please!) Before heading towards the Thornhill trail, which takes you back onto the road as you start a couple of small climbs. Keep an eye on your map as there is a sharp right turn onto Free range lane which is easy to miss. From here it gets steep! Starting on road and then heading off onto a bridleway you get your first hint of the technical climbs waiting for you. Get stuck in and keep your head up towards Win Hill.
Towards the top the ground levels out and you are treated to breathtaking views towards Mam Tor and Castleton before you start to traverse your way towards Hope Cross. From here it's straight on and into the first proper descent of the day... Potato Alley as it is known - you will see why! This spits you out onto Snake road which you cross over and begin the next climb, winding up through the hills towards the next summit.
This next summit is a little less obvious but it's worth a stop for a snack and some water before you head down Lockerbrook Descent. This is a firm favourite! This segment starts quite slow as the gradient is building until before you know it you are flying! Rocky as you would expect but very different to your previous descent. Looking as far ahead as possible is key here, plan your lines, stay relaxed on the bike and enjoy it!
Before long you are down by the reservoir, and gently spinning along the road, a great time to catch your breath and take in the views. There's a lovely little cafe if you need to refuel before taking on the hardest climb of the day... saving the best till last!
Last but not least the challenging climb up to the top of Whiston Lee Tor. There are parts of this even on an Electric bike you will end up pushing, but don't despair it's worth it... and hats off to you if you can ride the 23% paved climb to the top! After the struggle this climb starts to level out and you get a hint of the view at the top. But wait till you summit. This is the bit where all the climbing is worth it.
Amazing views and a great feeling of achievement, your climbing is done - one final descent awaits. Starting out mellow and easy before ramping up and getting rocky, you rattle your way down and end up outside the Ladybower Inn, quite possibly the perfect end to a ride? Refuel and celebrate before the short ride back to your car.
It's a ride that can easily be shortened or adapted, if you are feeling it when you get to Snake Road you can turn right and head straight back to the carpark. Likewise at the bottom of Lockerbrook. You can extend this route to take in Mam Tor and Hollins Cross with a little extra road riding at the beginning but a whole heap more descending!
The bike - Specialized Turbo Levo SL
I'm riding a Specialized Turbo Levo SL, and it's the perfect tool for the job. With less weight and power than a traditional E-bike, the Levo SL is the perfect balance - light and nimble but with plenty of power from the 35nm motor to monster up those climbs. This really sped up the route and kept my legs fresh for the descents. It's worth saying that you don't need an E-MTB for this ride but it really took the edge off those climbs and would be perfect if you wanted to explore further or ride multiple days.
The Kit -
Heading up into the Peaks you are never too far from a road or another person but it's essential to take some kit to make sure you can look after yourself and your bike. I've packed my Endura MT500 jacket, loads of snacks and gels, a Topeak multitool and a Muc Off tubeless repair kit. You can never have enough spares so make sure you have everything you need. You don't want to have to walk back to the start.
Too help me carry around my essential bits of equipment, I was using a Fox Hip Pack which came in really convenient! Everytime I needed an energy gel or wanted my phone to get pictures, I had easy access to the pack. Half of the time I completely forgot I was wearing it as it was so comfortable and out of the way.