Oh dear. A mountain bike. On a mountain in Dartmoor. Whatever next. Oh yes, a prehistoric monument.

Sorry, out and about rather a lot so will fill you in later on. But for now, here's a mountain bike on a mountain in the rain.

 ....back now for some in fill material. I've no idea where this place is; some Tor south of Oakhampton on Dartmoor. This shot was taken during a lull in the rather horizontal rain. I'd been out for an amble and spotted a bridleway that led straight up this 550m lump of granite. By "straight up" I mean just that. It was impossible to cycle up, so a hike-a-bike it was. I lost the path pretty quickly. That seems to happen a lot here. The bridleway was shown on my map but didn't exist on the ground. So I just plodded on over the moors upwards, rather hoping that the path down may be more obvious. It was. It took me around 50 minutes to walk up, and all of 4 to get back down, using all of the travel that the Orange 5 had. Did pass two walkers, and they had the right hump. So much so that I checked my map at the bottom. Cycling map for Dartmoor clearly showed this as a bridlepath. Oh and the surface of this path was worse than by the trigpoint above. Bigger rocks, more gravel, more slippage. All rideable though ;¬)

Word of caution; waterbars. I've cycled loads of places around the UK but this is the first place I've been where the drainage channels are raised ten to twenty centimetres. There's no smooth transition up and over them either. In reality they are mini solid rock walls. A challenge if you would. Hence why I busted through all of the travel on my bike.

This is only my second ride here, and it's, well, a bit bitty. More road than off. Only my second day so I'm not going to write the place off, but a road bike would be a good choice so far. I've bought all the maps and it's a struggle to find a route that is truly off-road. Perhaps I've been spoilt in Surrey? The scenery is way better here though. If only the bridlepaths were better defined. I'm off to a bike shop in Okehampton tomorrow for some local knowledge.

Oh, the roads. Single lane with twelve foot high stone banks. Not an issue but it does mean sometimes you can see naff all and have to be car wary. But the big problem for me are the gradients. One five mile run took me an improbable amount of time. The reason? Well, imagine starting a 1-in-4 hill like Pebble Hill. You ride up the steepest bit for around five to ten minutes. Just as the steepness starts to level off, just turn around and ride down until the steepness again starts to level off. Turn around and repeat several times. I'd ride a steep bit, get to the top, look around and realise that in reality as the crow flies I'd covered perhaps a quarter of a mile in fifteen minutes. Needless to say on my next trip I stuck to A roads, where five miles was dispatched in around twenty minutes. I'd have been faster but the 2.4" Nobby Nic is a bit draggy.

But so far, Dartmoor as a mountain biking destination? One with proper gnarly off-road? Not really. I really like the place, but perhaps a more road orientated bike would serve me better.

29/7/2013 update: Well. Turns out I'm as ignorant as a cow pat. The "big hill" I cycled over is a prehistoric site of interest. The walkers must have been grumpy with me as the big pile of stones shown in the photograph above is Cosdon Beacon - a prehistoric cairn. Nearby is one of Dartmoor's more interesting features, a Bronze age stone row. Really. But there's nothing here to suggest that the area has such features, no signs, nothing. I guess though that normal people don't generally climb such a featureless mound. Even the guidebooks say to take a map and compass, as there are no visible paths on the ground. How I found my way around is beyond me. Just did is all. castle Drogo next.