The weather looked best for Friday, being that it was above zero, sunny and not too windy. Matt A and I (Jeff) headed out to ride down Cave Dale and one of the bridleways off of Hollins Cross into the Vale of Edale. We proved Christmas hadn’t taken it’s toll too much by making it to the bottom of Black Rabbit (Pindale) without collapsing. Above Black Rabbit we pushed up Dirtlow Rake, which has improved since I last rode down it, most of the treacherous gullies have been filled in. With all the stopping to take pictures of paragliders and scenery we missed the turning to Cave Dale, instead ending up on a footpath that is also sign posted to Castleton. After a good field section that was kind of like a downhill pumptrack I realised we were on the wrong path, fortunately the bridleway was easy to get back to with a quick shortcut.
Matt had never been down Cave Dale and before the ride I had hoped it wouldn’t be icy, but when we got onto the bridleway we met two riders who had been warned by walkers that it was icy. Undeterred we rode on, down the rocky, lumpy, gently sloped section until we reached the wall at the top of the main part. Upon looking over the wall we were met with the scene below:
After adding extra layers of protective equipment, mainly fleece, I had look at the lines and had a go. I usually struggle with the top section as it’s hard to go slow and keep momentum on the steep slope. With two attempts and some dabs I got through the first section. Matt then had a go, making a good attempt for a first time on Cave Dale, until he put his foot in the soggy bank.
It was then my turn to carry on, starting on the section before the first tight bit where the walls seem to come in at you. I cleared the limestone cobbled stream before entering the mech-hanger eating boulder field where my front wheel caught a rock, turned and I rolled out to the side. Fortunately I’d didn’t get too wet. My next failure came when I went over some ice on a flat rock and the back wheel slid out landing me on my ass on the rock.
After Cave Dale we pushed up to Hollins Cross, reaching the top as the sun set behind Mam Tor, we then rode down the bridleway that goes to Backtor Bridge on the Edale side of the ridge. It was quite rutty on the first section before becoming one rock shoot into corner that has an inner and outer line.