Ben Smith, a friend of the co-op who went cycling in the Lake District, has kept a diary for us to see what he got up to. This is his second instalment when he faced Helvellyn. Read Part One if you want to know how he got on with Skiddaw.
If you think you’d like to go on a Lake District cycle like Ben, make sure you have a decent mountain bike. If you’ve got on already, book it in for a quick service to make sure it’s in full working order so you can make the most of your trip.
I feel a little tired from Skiddaw the previous day so decide to ease myself in gently with a loop around Thirlmere Lake taking in some more beautiful forest.
There’s not much point staying at the base for long though with Helvellyn’s summit beckoning, so I begin the ascent before finishing the loop and glance back at the woodland I’ve left behind.
Never having visited the area, it seemed logical to choose the most direct route to the summit. Although I had to carry the bike most of the way up I felt this added to the challenge and the trail looked just about ridable when it came time to descend.
One of the many satisfying things about ascending is the way the view changes each time you look back down…
…and knowing that no matter how tired you get, all you need to do is keep going and you’ll get to the top!
Having invested a lot of time and energy getting here, I decided to stay at the summit for a while and soak up the altitude. As a comparison to what I’m used to, my favourite local climb Box Hill takes me about 15 minutes to get up – Helvellyn has taken me 4 hours.
A great aspect of Helvellyn is that the summit is relatively flat meaning it’s possible to cycle around at a leisurely pace taking in the 360 degree view and enjoying the unfamiliarly rocky terrain – this is a far cry from what I’m used to back in the Surrey Hills – it’s swelteringly hot but there are still some snow patches up here.
There are a lot of options when its time to choose a route back down but the trail I ascended was too appetising a prospect to pass up. When viewed from the top down, parts of the trail suddenly seemed decidedly less ridable! Time to get off and walk this section methinks – I’m planning on getting to the bottom in one piece…
The view of the lake levels out again and I’m safely back in the comforting surrounding of the beautiful woodland I left behind at the beginning of the day. Another fantastic day in the saddle!
FANCY YOUR OWN CYCLING ADVENTURE?
- Different bikes are made for different types of cycling, have a read of our Bike Buying Guide to make sure you get the right one.
- You’ll probably also want to carry some kit around with you. If that’s the case, you might want a backpack or pannier.
- Ben took a photo diary of all the places he went, but track your route more accurately with a cycling GPS