XT660R Heaven

XT660R Heaven
Life on the road is fab...

Friday, 4 April 2014

Weekend fun - mud, rocks, sand & breakdowns!!

 So four of us arranged a whole weekend of riding in Cumbria, the basic plan, 4 x 600+ cc bikes getting ridden around as many lanes as we could find for two full days. We all wanted to be knackered, with big grins at the end & have the bikes left totally covered in mud & in dire need of a service! Simple...
We actually managed to break one, bend another & the other two obviously weren't trying hard enough!! :-)
We met up in Keswick at the The Filling Station cafe on day 1,
Gaz, Mark & I turned up as Geoff had family duties keeping him at home... Mark had had a few problems with fuelling on the cold DR650, which almost meant a return trip back to the Midlands for him, however the magic engine gods stepped in & it suddenly started to run fine, so off to Keswick we went.
After a huge cup of coffee it was off to St John's in the Vale for a the first two lanes of the day, Mark hadn't seen either of them & promptly got a good sweat on doing the first two uphill sections. The weather wasn't quite as good as the last time I did these two lanes, but  the views were easily as fab!
Once we'd passed a local farmer, a few walkers & a couple of mountain bikers, all with a friendly wave & a smile, we dropped back to the tarmac at Dockray & headed down to ride along Ullswater, heading over Kirkstone Pass & dropping down the Struggle into Ambleside to pick up a bit of fuel for Gaz's bike.
Our next destination was a lane that headed past Tarn Hows. We saw four 4x4's on this trail, including a £50 k Range Rover covered in mud, well done fellas!! Gaz managed to style the rock step whilst Mark & I just grunted & struggled up over it... more technique needed I reckon!

That lane drops us down towards Windemere, so we caught the ferry across the lake & headed up past Knipe Tarn, stopping to collect Mark's gear lever at one point as it fell off for some reason, then headed down into the limestone area west of Kendal. A stop in Kendal at the KTM bike shop, Triple D, where we replaced an engine mount bolt that had vibrated off Mark's bike & had a good gossip with the boys there about all things KTM.

Are you starting to notice a trend here yet??

After Kendal, we headed back northwards to pick up a new lane, the Breast High Lane. This basically killed Mark's bike & left all of us totally knackered. I'm crap at uphills, so dropped the bike 4 times, it's pretty steep as a lane but very good to do, there is lots of loose big rocks which have been put down to protect the soil underneath which makes the going hard work. Mark & Gaz both found it fairly straight forward
but for me it's my weakest bit of riding off road skill.

Once at the top we stopped for the obligatory pictures, decided it was too windy to stop for long & headed down hill. For me this was difficult, but OK, I sat down sometimes, stood up at others, shifted my weight around & generally crept down to wait at the bottom for the boys, a good history of mountain biking helps here I reckon... I did bend my footpeg on the up though... oops...

On the other hand, Mark worked up a sweat & when he got to where I was waiting, he was saying that it had been the hardest bit of off road riding he'd ever done!! Excellent...
Gaz was having a little epic, it turned out, he stalled the big old XT on a steep bit of the downhill, then as it was a kick start he couldn't hold the bike & kick start it & we were quite a ways downhill, unaware of this...
he crept down the hillside, nearly dropping the bike as he hit a large rock & with no engine power couldn't pop over it... he arrived looking pretty tense & again commenting on the difficulty of the terrain...

Fab adventure all round then!! :-)

What up there???
The fun continued down to the bottom of the valley, the lane splits at the bottom, right is an easy broken tarmac lane, left takes you back up onto a fell & joins the B road further up the valley, I rode forward to make the choice, meanwhile Mark had his final fun of the day, the bike died, we couldn't get it started so the decision was made to leave Mark alone & head back to the vans to collect one of them & come back to 'rescue' Mark. This we did, with an 80 mile round trip down lanes just big enough to get a van down, driving between the M6 carriageways at one point, excellent!! A visit to the pub saw a couple of well deserved beers downed...
Day 2 took Mark back home to get the bike looked at, Gaz stayed home with his lass & Geoff came over so we went out to do a few new lanes, starting near Greystoke. There are a few beautiful little lanes around this area, but our first one took us past the tip, which wasn't pleasant at all... hey ho, human refuse is not a pleasant thing but a necessary evil I guess in a modern world.
Mud, gates, some very bumpy farmland took us up towards Dalston & a stop at Mickey D's for some late breakfast. After this we headed down to the Eden Valley to explore some of the lanes over there. They were very good it has to be said, some sand, some mud, some very pretty villages, then a blast up Hartside, saw us drinking tea at the cafe with all the other bikers out on their toys on a Sunday.
We took the lanes back down into the valley, with me having a good off in the deep ruts on the first section. I can see why there is a bit of controversy about this lane, the ruts are massive & deep, the second section is more rocky so better protected & drops down next to a lovely little farm, where we joined the tarmac road again heading for our last but one lane of the day... which was great, again I had another little off on the uphill section, the front wheel hit a hole & over the handle bars I went... Geoff got the whole thing on film & sat laughing on his bike until he saw I couldn't get out of the hole I was stuck in, then he jumped off his bike to give me a hand manhandling the bike back into ground where I could get some traction & get out of the hole. We finished the lane & decided to head back to the vans as it was nearly 4pm now... but en-route, I saw a tiny line that headed towards Little Salkeld, it turned out to be ace, with lots of mud & pretty tree lined bits that finally finished at Long Meg & her Daughters, a famous stone circle in the Eden Valley.
The perfect sign!!

That was two days of great riding, some 230 miles covered with about 50% offroad, this is what we wanted!!

Geoff & I used this as our final test & training run for the bikes & both of us felt we'd done plenty of stuff that would see us through on the TAT trail,

Our personal off road riding skills had improved loads since our first
trip out with the lads from Batley in January, the bikes had proved
Alston Moor lanes
themselves & all our kit was sorted... We'd sorted the tyre question out & finished all the additions to the bikes. We'd sorted out most of the electronics from the the various cameras to the GPS's. so things are looking good so far!

Happy Days...

Quick update on Mark's DR650... the piston has a hole in it, so he needs a new engine as the cost of a rebuild is more than the bikes value, that's another project for the winter now!!
He's looking for a replacement now, maybe a Suzuki DR400 E, time will tell I guess...

Hartside Cafe, bikers heaven... :-)