29(R) Mountain Bike

29(R) Sqn Ex Buzzard Peak Mountain Biking AL1

After being forced to cancel the Tour de Mont Blanc, the backup option of 5 days in the Peak District may have sounded a little tame. However, the scorching British Summer and some fantastic trails dramatically improved  the morale of the 7 members of 29(R) Squadron that attended “Ex Buzzard Peak” in May.

Our first stop was at the Sherwood Pines trail centre on the far side of Newark for a skills lesson where newly qualified Trail Cycle Leader, B-Dubs, assembled a scary assortment of cones for the team to negotiate. Post lunch, we tackled the 13km “Kitchener Trail” which proved a good warm up for the week ahead.

That evening, after a quick trip to a well-known budget supermarket to stock up on provisions, the team arrived at the self-catering accommodation on the edge of the National Park that would be a comfortable home for  the rest of the week (did we mention the hot tub?!).

Day 2 was the 24km Bakewell Circuit, where Ratner was able to show off his “Cover of shame” – a luminous rucksack cover awarded every morning to the most inept rider from the previous day. This was to be short-lived, however, after the Trail Cycle Leader gave a demonstration of how to fly over the handle bars and end up in a pile of nettles.

Day 3 was to separate the men from the boys with a 38km slog. Starting from Ladybower Reservoir, there were endless gruelling climbs in the relentless midday heat over a very technical moorland trail. After a rewarding descent, the faces of the group dropped when Iain (The Trail Cycle Leader who wasn’t wearing the “Cover of Shame”), informed us that the only way home was back over the same peak that we had just descended from.  The bracing dip in the river Derwent at the end of the day had never felt so good!

By Day 4, those members of the group who had not opted for the gel seats were walking like John Wayne and dreading another day in the saddle. A shorter, but incredibly hilly trail near Ashover ended in the grounds of Chatsworth House and another refreshing dip in the river.

The final morning was spent back in Sherwood Pines, where the improvement in our Mountain Biking ability was evident, completing the Kitchener Trail in half the time of our first day, although the incentive for an early finish prior to the weekend should not be discounted when comparing times… Over the week we completed over 110km of trails and well over 4000ft of ascent – cycle shorts and gel seats were essential!

If anyone is keen to go Mountain Biking then they should contact the PEd section which has all the equipment required as well as contacts with many instructors on base. A trip to the nearby Sherwood Pines makes a great section force development day and the Peak District is a blast!