Back on the bike

Whether by design or accident, looking back on recent years it seems each has had a particular focus - 2011 and 2012 were both years in which I had a rather singular focus on the kayak. In 2013 the bike took me back into the hills, beneath many of the crags I knew so well, along the ridges above and down from the summits seeking out routes that made the most of their height. 
 Almost all involved a carry on the way up, some on they way down and some I'd have happily carried the bike straight back up to ride the descent once more. In 2014, I was beginning to miss the coast and while I continued to seek out new descents on the bike - a day on Beinn Meadhoin in the Cairngorms a particular highlight - there was greater balance than before. By the end of the year, I was running more frequently, something that has provided greater focus in 2015 than for many years and while I have continued to push myself on the bike it has primarily been on short, local routes, those I can ride from the house which combine narrow, rocky, singletrack that twists from the moors to the wooded valleys below. Some of these are among the best trails I have ridden, but they are not the mountains - and it is among the mountains that I love to ride.
And so with a few hours to spare, I found myself heading up towards a familiar summit, in the saddle at least for a while...
...though it wasn't long before I shouldered the bike, moving quickly up the steep stony track in the last of the afternoon's sun.
By the time I reached the ridge high above Patterdale, the sun had gone and a strong gusting wind made for some exciting moments before dropping into the lee of the arete beneath Swirral Edge.
A nice slabby step...
...before the angle eases off, at least temporarily, followed by another steep section, a mix of pitched slabs and tight turns taking me back into Glenridding: a drop of 743m over 6km, one of three great descents in the immediate area.