Myself and Konrad Manning from Rapha, one of the key brains and brawn behind the Rapha Super Cross series, headed up on this last Tuesday before the Peaks to have a look-see at Whernside. On foot at a jog, of course, due to the legalities of riding in the area, though this is actually the best way to do it, allowing for a more stately perusal of terrain, and line as you progress.
We found a mixed bag of improved surfaces (from last year) and some real boggy and sticky ones due to the recent wet conditions. Make no mistake, at the time of writing this looks set to be quite a wet Peaks, irrespective of any rainfall on the day. That said, as we discussed, considering the terrain the Peaks traverses, and the annual rainfall seen there, the actual route is surprisingly dry, even in a wet year.
|The race appears to go the wrong way up a one way street.....|
More importantly, I have some amazing new lines off Whernside, courtesy of Konrad's eye for detail and scouting ability. These are of course a closely guarded trade secret but will ensure swift and easy progress off what is one of the more intimidating descents in the Peaks.
We also had to pause our descent down the hill to wait for the Air Ambulance to land to evacuate a casualty - a sober reminder of the severity of the environment. It looked like a precarious business as the pilot took several attempts to lay it belly down on the peat bog, having retracted the undercarriage to avoid becoming bogged down.
Incidents aside however, things are looking good for Sunday. Now, about that weather.....