Since writing this report, Russ has had a serious mountain biking accident in 2003 in the Welsh Mountains. He was helicoptered off the mountain and is now paralysed from the chest down. The air ambulance that saved his life is a charitable service that relies on your donations. Russ' accident led to the formation of the RUSS Appeal to support the service. Please visit the website for the latest news on Russ and fund raising events and support the cause.
It had been a long time in the organising. firstname.lastname@example.org is a strange mixture of people with an interest in computing, custard, the weather, drinking and when the conversation runs dry they might, if forced, drift onto talking about mountain biking. And so it was that a meet up was arranged between Christmas and New Year in Edale. As it was, all the youngsters couldn't hack it and the wrinklies were left to show how its done.
Come the morning of December 28 a thick layer of snow had suddenly appeared overnight. Uh-oh! Traffic reports had closed roads and advice not to travel and even with the Discovery I was umming and ahhing over whether to set out or not. Then the phone rang and John Murphy was halfway there and finding it not too bad going. No excuses now but it was the long route across the M62 from Preston to Huddersfield and then round via the outskirts of Sheffield - the drop from Rushup Edge into Edale did not sound attractive in the snow.
Three hours later and I rolled into the snow covered Edale Car Park. John had made it and so had Russ but Jon had wimped out with some measly excuse.
Bikes ready, warmest clothes on and then out onto the virgin snow climbing Harden Clough. Traction was not bad and only John found anything worth falling off for. The final climb up to Hollins Cross was a push and the cloud was down low. Then off towards Mam Tor before veering right to skirt the peak. This was all fresh slippery snow with a long drop down if you missed the path.
A quick rest and refresh and route plan decided Rushup Edge followed by Chapel Gate would be too steep for the conditions and so a trip down the old road to Castleton and back over the tops was the choice. Slip sliding down to the Blue John mines, John once more decided a close inspection of the tarmac was in order and executed a stylish and acrobatic dismount. The old buckled road over the landslips was in good conditions and we shot out at the bottom just as a Range Rover was leaving the farm. Russ decided to chase it and having caught it decided he couldn't stop while I managed a banana skin type fall - both body and bike off the ground before a hard impact bum first.
Down in Castleton the snow was wet and slushy but with time pressing on there was no stop and it was off quickly to Hollowford Road before shouldering the bikes for the climb back up to Hollins Cross.
From there it was all downhill back to the car park and Russ demonstrated that gravity also works sideways as he dived off the bike into a stream.
A quick drive back to Hope and it was into a warm B&B with shower next to the cafe followed by the pub and bed
Next morning dawned bright and early with blue skies and sunshine. After too much breakfast we headed over to the car park to meet up with Steve and head off for the days route - over Jagger Clough and to Rowlee Farm then on to Lockerbrook and the National Parks Cafe at Ladybower before a quick slog over the top to Hagg Farm and back via Hope Cross. Conditions were perfect with nice crisp snow under wheel and views to die for. The continuous steep climbs were tamed by the time honoured "I'm just stopping to take a photo" trick while the descents were "interesting"