Ryan had never ridden the lakes and his buddy Cox was up for a go too so me, Si, Nick (Jacqui came aswell but she went walking) met them at Dungeon Ghyll carpark. We set off the ride up Mickleden, as we got toward the head of the valley we heard comments along the lines of "oh it's big up here isn't it?". Rosset pike loomed ahead and yes it had a certain biggity.
Riding up the gradient and tech factor increased, I was thrutching around a tricky bit when I terminally over shot the traction properties of my rear tyre, cue spin out and collapsing on the bike, left hand grip buried into the turf, right hand grip almost buried into my groin. That smarted a bit. Visions of derekstarship-esque haematoma swam around my head for the next few days.
We soon ran out of fitness/skill and started to push and then carry, and then throw our bikes up the rocky bits and scramble up after them. It was not fun, in fact it was pretty bloody awful. Rossett gill has been on my todo list for a while now, not any more! Ryan and Cox began to fall behind a bit, this was not what they had expected. Happy smiling faces all round!
The pleasure of topping out at rossett and descending to angle tarn was short lived as it became obvious there was still a lot more climbing to go before, especially for Si who had a minor fall and an inconvenient rock lead to dot fluid pissing from his rear brake. Front brake only promised to make the downs interesting for him. A certain amount of bitching and moaning ensued. It was a right old slog up to the esk hause shelter but we eventually made it. Everyone was rather subdued and Ryan and Cox were muttering about the down better be worth it, I think I was the only one who had ridden this trail before. Helmets on, saddles down, pads for those of that persuasion, and off we went. I barrelled down the first section, for about a minute and a half, maybe two then paused to wait for everyone to catch up, Ryan and Cox were grinning from ear to ear, what a transformation, their first lakes downhill and after a tiny fraction of it I could see they were converts. Some more down and then another wait, I pointed out a line to those behind, unfortunately this distracted Nick who binned it and collected a right gash to his shin, apologies Nick.
Not that big but seemed pretty deep
Nick shows us his gnar face
Ryan throwing shapes
A pause for a punctures, and then another, some more down, a rest and bite to eat, some more down, then some more, then yet more. Eventually we made it to stockley bridge, about 45mins after we'd left the shelter. The weather had looked pretty moody on the way down but we got to stonethwaite with no rain - but a kamikaze sheep running out in front of me nearly caused another crash - and the sky seemed to be clearing up for the return leg. I've been up langstrath valley a couple of times and this route was probably the best route I've done so far, we stuck to the double track from stonethwaite on the western side of the valley. This was gravelly and quite draggy in parts but not too bad, then we crossed at the bridge right at the foot of the zig zags up stake pass.
Another long slog pushing up then some thrutchy riding across the top. The descent down langdale combe was OK, but a bit of a let down after esk hause, started off with rutted singletrack, got thrutchy again as it crossed stake gill then onto a long stone pitched section with some properly devious corners. Fun, tho not as funny as watching Cox fix a flat, a most unusual style of reinflation, sitting crosslegged with the wheel on his lap, holding the base of the mini pump vertically in his left hand and vigorously pumping the handle with his right, the rest of us watching from a littre further down the hill were pissing our sides. We took it easy pedalling back to the car park, everyone was pretty happy and the two lakeland virgins vowed to return asap.