The email sent round hadn't received much response so I was surprised to find we had a total of six riders when we met up at Ladybower. Stu and I were joined by Robbo, Pike, Medium Steve and Jamie. Medium Steve even had the "best" bike out... the weather must be good!

After a short, steady spin along the road I took the lead on the first climb. Everyone knew this was going to be a long day so no one was going mad. Robbo was on a strict "no hoovering" instruction and even he was sticking to it! ;) I was annoyed with myself near the top of the climb when I cocked up and dabbed. I can normally clean that one! I wasn't the only one to fail so the banter started once we got to the top.

We were all already hot. There was hardly a breeze and the temperature must have been in the low 20s? The first descent was a re-introduction to the rocks of the area and then it was time for the road climb. This is the worst part of this route. Not because it's hard. Just the fact that it's a busy road and it's long. It is actually a fairly steady climb. As it went on we strung out into three groups of two. Each of us sweating profusely in the heat.

At the top we rested for a short while inside the gate. I think out of the six of us only Robbo and I had ridden this route before? You can't do this route and not expect to walk some sections of Doctor's Gate. We were off in the first few yards as there are tricky rock steps that require trials skills to negotiate! After that there is plenty of riding (and walking) to be had. Some of the sections are very technical. Others have serious consequences for getting it wrong. We all attempted what we wanted and avoided what we didn't. No peer pressure on this trail! I think the four virgins were surprised by how difficult Doctor's Gate was? My memory of it had dimmed as it had been a long while for me.

We re-grouped near the end of the singletrack and then headed on. In Hadfield there is a short section through a wood that everyone loved. It's in contrast to the rest of the route and breaks up the sections through the towns nicely. Unfortunately Jamie was a bit off the back and missed a turn. A phone call later and we were back together.

After a quick stop while Pike nipped to a shop for more drink we cruised along the old railway line of the Trans Pennine Trail. The views across the reservoirs and also up to the moors of Bleaklow were stunning.

The steep switch backs of the climb at the end of the trail up above Woodhead Tunnel had us all puffing and panting after the steady railway line. Stu was even off and pushing! As we progressed we could see ominous black clouds ahead. Thunder storms had been forecast and we'd rather not get caught out on the moors in one! On the rutted Snow Road I tried to ride a ridge between two ruts but the grass was weird and made it feel as if the ground was off camber? I ended up getting a bit of a tank slapper on, bailing into a rut and grabbing a load of brake. This put me to the back. I got myself organised and proceeded in a rut trying to catch the others who had passed me. A few hundred yards later I came across Pike with a pinch flat. I stopped and helped him fit a new tube. By the time we got to the end of The Snow Road the rest of the lads already had drinks in at the pub! In the pub we heard there were hail stones coming down just down the road but we had still avoided any storms.

After food and drink at the pub it was time for the final challenge of the day: Cut Gate Path. As we climbed I could hear thunder to our left and the still air and heat was oppressive. I hoped to do the climb clean but was defeated by pure exhaustion and had to stop for a breather. Carrying on I had a couple more dabs but was happy overall given the miles we had already done and the conditions.

After a well earned rest at the top it was obvious we had escaped the storms. We set off to enjoy the final technical challenge of the descent. In the end it was a 50/50 split on cleaning the "hard" line. As we re-grouped at the stream at the bottom there was some final banter as Robbo, Stu and I were the ones that cleaned it.

Picking up the fire road around the reservoir we overtook the crowds of leisure cyclists and walkers as we headed back to the car park.

We were out for about six hours total including probably 45 minutes in the pub. A proper day out in them hills! All the photos from this day are here.