So on Tuesday morning I left the house in a blizzard, sleeping bag on the bars and a rucksack full of as many layers as I could fit in. The weather got worse and worse and I managed to go the wrong way in Moses Gate Country Park, not a good start but I soon found my way to Radcliffe and back on course. At Prestwich the weather really closed in and I sheltered in a bus stop eating a sandwich debating what to do. Since not riding was cold I decided to get onto Asda at the velodrome for my first cake stop. A quick look at the map here and it was clear I wouldn’t get to the pub we were meeting at for 4pm riding so I decided to head to Piccadilly and get the train out to Edale. With Snake Pass closed riding out that way I might be pushing through snow for hours to get along the road. I timed it well as there was a train leaving in 15minutes, I had forgot they only run every two hours at this point. Once on the train I hear from Kate that she is at Edale and about to set off running.
Arriving at Edale and there seemed to be less snow so I headed off over to Jaggers Clough, it was mainly rideable and I got fresh tracks on the first descent. Then the pushing began! Soon I was disappearing into waist deep snow drifts! I got to the Roman Road and debated changing my plans and dropping down the Beast but I was having fun and decided to stick to my plan of the bridleway to Aston. It started off well, if a little comical as I tried to drag Rigger through the snow. But at some point I began to wonder if I was on the right track, after a while the map came out. I was sure I had worked out where I was – not the bridleway – but I still had that panicked feeling when I realised it was 3:40pm and time to get dark. I then pointed out to myself that it was a clear day and I could see the Cement works in Hope, I was hardly lost. A little bit further and I took a sensible option, straight down the hill towards the road. I found the bridleway I should have been on and it was straightforward after that, as long as I avoided the ice on the road.
I arrived at the pub three hours after leaving Edale just in time to order huge chip butties! I hung my clothes up on all the chairs near the fire which got a few odd looks from the staff! Kate had ended up coming in the car so had put loads of spare stuff in. She started listing all the clothes she had brought, now I was worried she seemed to have loads more than me and I am used to Kate having loads less! A couple of drinks later and a lot of faffing we set out up the bridleway, expecting a nice clear track to follow. Within 5 minutes we went wrong, but where we really went wrong is we didn’t retrace our steps! After climbing over a dry stone wall with barbed wire (and somehow lifting an ice-encrusted bike over) we ended up using the compass to ensure we were heading in the right direction and literally dragging Rigger by his forks/front wheel as we battled knee deep snow, heather and one occasion a bird! As we crossed the tundra with the wind howling I was beginning to worry, no way could we just bivvy there we were too exposed! But where were we. Eventually we came to the track and headed up to the Wheelstones, now I could push the bike again. This bit went very fast! I think it took us nearly three hours to reach our bivvy spot. The comforting thought that the car was only 40minutes away disappeared!
Once up there I had a few issues with the straps holding my sleeping bag on – I need a better method – but managed to loosen it enough to get the bivvy bag and sleeping bag out. Kate laid out our bed for the night – a survival bag chopped in half and opened up and we added a space blanket and our mats. Then it was into all the layers! In total I had on two base layers, bike jersey, bike jacket that I had on all day; then a shower proof, two more base layers and my down jacket. Bottom half was bib shorts, light thermals, bib tights from the day plus a set of woolly thermals (yes pink Chris) over the top. Feet I pulled on an extra pair of socks and head had 3 buffs, a thermal buff, woolly hat and hood from down jacket on. Water bottle in sleeping bag and in I got. Or in I tried, I didn’t seem to fit. I am sure Kate will have been wondering what the fuss was about, it took me at least five minutes to get in and I wasn’t lined up with the hood. Never mind it was cold, sleep time.
It didn’t feel like I was getting to sleep, but I wasn’t cold, I could feel the cold air on my back, but I wasn’t cold as such. I know I must have slept at some point, as I was apparently snoring! But I woke up loads, with cold feet. The mistake was not taking my wet socks off, next time that will not happen. I also had cramps in my calves, unusual for me but I wonder if it is dehydration as I never drink enough! At about 5am I had to give up and go to the toilet, only I had bibs on under 6 of my 8 layers, no way could I do it in the sleeping bag, so out I came and as quick as I could I took layers off, bibs off, layers on. Then feet into boots – they were frozen solid so they didn’t really fit! (Kate used dry bags as boots when she went to the toilet, ace idea!) Round the corner into the wind, back to bed as quickly as possible! Once again getting in was hard, but I wasn’t bothered where the hood was, I found it worked quite well the wrong way completely enclosing me.
1) Take wet socks off and put new ones on
2) You can wear 4 base layers
3) Don’t wear bibs
4) There is no such thing as too many clothes, but sleeping bags seem very small when dressed as michelinwoman!