Whenever I see a group of mountain bikers consulting a map, I can't contain myself. It's as if they exist to unbridle my enthusiasm. And once unleashed, it sets off a verbal roller coaster ride round the Calder Valley.
We found a few lost souls trying to follow a guide book at the weekend. They'd managed to loop back to their starting point and were engaging in rereading the instructions and twisting the map in figures of eight to see whether it would better match the landscape upside down, or on its side, or in any way at all. To release them from their game of map twister, we offered to set them on their way. And take in one of our doorstep trails.
It's a Tarmac winch which had their full sussers grinding - whilst our cx bikes seemed like a better choice. Briefly. The packhorse slabs start at the end of the road and continue on up, brooking no obstacle. Designed for rugged Galloway ponies with low gears and plenty of suspension. I couldn't match their agility on my ' cross bike, not quite able to lift it up kerbs when the track was particularly steep and uneven. On the way down, my two wheels picked their way delicately, tracing the line of least granularity. Slivers of turf, sandy run outs between the steppier sections. We were way behind our new companions and their bouncy two wheeled steeds. Until one broke her chain. And another foundered on the lip of a newly appeared drainage ditch, so new we'd not known to warn him of it.
When the third confessed to an absence of rear brake they took a group decision to call it a day. It seems my enthusiasm may have been a little over the top.
Having broken the visitors we commenced Stanny's Road Loop of Doom ( taking in the sheep first). That's the nice thing about the CX bikes. They are entertainingly sketchy in place of mountain bikes and nicely unassuming on the road but they segue between the two without a murmur. We put over fifty miles into our legs and it was fun but equally we could have dicked around the valley playing at mincing our favourite descents in the name of hospitality. Yes, next time we'll do that.