When you have a backyard as good as ours it is inevitable that you want to show it off. The Yorkshire Dales have been a cyclist’s paradise for as long as bikes have existed. They have been the test bed for many Hope products over the years, and remain the lanes and trails that many Hope Technology employees ride on day-to-day basis.
Now in its third year, the Hope Pre-Peaks route leaves the Hope Technology factory in Barnoldswick and takes in the best of the Dales in an 85km long loop, or a slightly shorter 70km option. Those who take on the full route also “enjoy” the King/Queen of the Mountains timed stage up the fabled Mastiles Lane – steep, loose, unrelenting, as well as being longer than first meets the eye – the hill is a test for fresh legs, never mind those that have already completed over 40km.
A couple of days before this year’s event, the weather was as biblical as last year, but a warm and windy day on Saturday, and a bright start on Sunday left the trails running well for the 400 riders that took part. Summery blue skies framed the lush, green, rolling Dales as those taking part headed north. Each had their own objective in mind, whether it be completing the loop as quickly as possible, or simply getting around and enjoying the landscape with mates.
As in previous years, there was a 50/50 split between gravel or ‘cross bikes and mountain bikes. Debate was had on the best tool for the job, without a firm conclusion and a fair bit of disagreement. Eventually most accepted that a gravel bike was probably the quicker option on the road sections and smoother tracks, but a mountain bike was definitely more comfortable, particularly for those expecting to spend more hours in the saddle. The Pre-Peaks was also the first real opportunity for the public to test one of the HB130 demo fleet, with those who did universally coming back with some of the biggest grins on their faces.
The weather once again became a talking point, with few managing to dodge the showers completely and the wind a constant challenge; as always, the headwind seemed worse on the way home. Many suffered the heaviest downpours while winching up the grassy climb to the top of Arncliffe Cote, thankful at least, that they weren’t marshalling (biggest props to the marshall spotted hiding under his map to shelter from the incessant wind). The heavy clouds and occasional rain seemed fitting though – this is Yorkshire after all, and the Dales sometimes look their best with a moody backdrop.
For many of the riders on the full 85km loop, Mastiles Lane loomed large in their mind. The timed section brought out the competitive instincts in riders, although any thought of racing was promptly forgotten by half way for most. Those in the know, or who measured their efforts slightly better still had something in the tank for the final kick up the brutal walled lane, but there was no shame in walking. Congratulations to Amira Mellor and Alex Raynard who were quickest up – impressive times given how slippery the limestone bedrock can be in the wet.
The feed station just after was warmly welcomed by all, the back of the ride broken, but with a long way home, many riders’ legs were almost broken too. Fuelled up on “the best coffee in the world” and our now legendary flapjack, all made it back to HQ to more food and a celebratory goodie bag.
The Dales might not have the most technical trails, or the highest mountains, but for what it lacks, it more than makes up for in stunning scenery, brutish climbs and long, flowing descents. Add into the mix a few hundred like minded riders and the usual levels of Hope support, the Pre-Peaks once again added up to the perfect big day out. See you next year!
More images can be found here.