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The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Oct 26, 2015
by James Vincent  
Eugh. 4.30am. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I roll out of bed, pull on my clothes laid out from the night before, and crawl downstairs to put the coffee on. My bag is packed and my bike is waiting in the hallway - at this time of day, I need all the help I can get! Once breakfast is done, I load up the car, down my coffee and drive across town to pick up Tony. We have a short drive to get to the Lakes and at this godforsaken hour, traffic is non-existent so we make good progress getting there and meet the other fools who I've managed to sucker in on the faint promise of a mountain top experience from another world!

you know it s early when you start a ride pre-dawn and with lights

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Our target is Grizedale Pike with sunrise due at 7.19am, and even though it's only just October, it's damn cold, so our pace is pretty rapid in an attempt to warm ourselves up. As we climb, we catch glimpses of stars above us through the clouds and our hearts quicken. The forecast is good, but until now we've been shrouded in fog so my reputation is on the line. I don't want to be the one who tells these guys that their missed beauty sleep has all been for nothing!

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

My fears are soon allayed though when we look to the east and see that we are comfortably above the clouds and the skies above us are crystal clear, peaks floating above a sea of fog. As we climb, we can't help but rest occasionally and take in the ever-changing view. Bursts of orange and pink flood the sky and even though we're meant to be climbing, I just have to get a shot or two of the guys descending into the pre-dawn light.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Hitting the summit about 5 minutes before sunrise, everyone whips out their cameras to get the best 'mountain bike leaning against a rock at the top of a mountain' photo that they can, and an eerie calm descends as we pause to watch the sun make its full appearance.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Once the sun is up, we drop our saddles, engage fun mode and I go crazy with the camera - the already epic views are bathed in the most glorious golden light, making everything look insanely good. The guys are happy to entertain me and keep riding sections "just one more time" - we haven't got far to go today and we're making the most of the conditions.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

We pretty much have the trails to ourselves, and although we pass a lonesome tent on the next climb, its resident is presumably still buried deep inside a sleeping bag as we can't see anyone nearby.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

We carry on like this for the next few miles, riding high above the clouds in a wall to wall sunshine, before reaching the saddle of our last descent. The fog is closer now, and we realise that very soon we'll be out of the warmth, and back to reality in more ways than one.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

The world that awaits us beneath the cloud is cold, grey and damp. A stark contrast to the surreal conditions we were in not moments before. We swoop through the final valley of the ride and meet our first group of walkers just setting out as we reach the road. A quick spin back to the cars, and we're done. Things are slowly warming up down here, but it is nothing like what we've just experienced. The sun threatens to burn off the cloud for the rest of the day, but fails, and if we'd chosen to stay in bed or gone out on a low-level ride, we would never have known how good it was.

I'm tired by the time I get home, but I'm absolutely buzzing from the ride. That 4.30 alarm call is a long way away. Like a fool, I'm already planning the next one...

#forjenn


MENTIONS: @jimijazz




23 Comments

  • 4 1
 Fantastic set of pics! This gives me ideas to do the same over where I live, i've got a 1900m peak within riding distance of my front door.. Now what is the weather forecast like for the weekend...
  • 2 0
 Do it! The only problem with a dawn raid is that looking back, you forget the early start and how tired you felt for the rest of the day, and just remember how damn awesome it all was watching the sun rise from the top of a mountain. Then you want to do it all over again
  • 4 0
 @jimijazz That looks wicked mate, good work. Have you got a link to the route you took at all?
  • 4 0
 Cheers dude! We parked near the top of Whinlatter Pass, took a shortcut up the fireroad to the top of the South route, then hiked up the ridge to the top of Grizedale Pike. From there, we went to Coledale Hause, up to Crag Hill and along to Sail, before dropping down Rigg Beck to finish.
  • 1 0
 Did you just ride the road back to the car once down Rigg Beck?
  • 1 0
 We threw in a little bit of the bottom of Causey Pike, but we were in a rush to get back. Loads of options to extend the route though.
  • 2 0
 Awesome. Beautiful pictures. I've only ever climbed a mountain pre dawn once, and was an incredible experience. ^ this reminds me and makes me want to do it again!
  • 1 0
 Just awesomeness, we did this in summer and road up grizedale path from braithwaite,and then returned tdoing the descent. Did you make this into a loop? just wandered if we missed some riding by not carrying on from the top
  • 1 0
 Cheers!

Grizedale Pike (back to Braithwaite) is amazing as a descent, but there is a lot more riding to be had if you keep going from the top. Route is somewhere in the comments
  • 3 0
 Fantastic, thank you for sharing. I feel inspired to stop being so lazy!
  • 2 0
 Love this story, perfect reason for mountain biking. Rewarded in so many ways, and a quick escape of reality.
  • 2 0
 Once again you've delivered a fantastic story with an awesome supply of desktop backgrounds. Cheers James!
  • 1 0
 Thanks!
  • 1 0
 Superb photo write up ... Cheers for the inspiration to do something similar
  • 1 1
 Awesome trip, cool shots as well! The first part in particular sounds painfully familiar!
  • 2 1
 Thanks man. Why is it that the best light is so damn early!
  • 3 1
 Great photos!
  • 2 1
 Early worm gets eaten by the bird
  • 1 1
 amazing, when are you starting the guided rides i bet a load of us would be up for it,
  • 1 1
 Ha. You wouldn't want me to do formal guided rides - my sense of direction is laughable sometimes. I'd be more than happy to show you round a couple of rides if you're ever up this way though!
  • 1 1
 My kind of riding! Dawn raids rock! Great pictures and it's always a treat to have it all to yourselves!
  • 1 1
 Brilliant :-)
  • 1 1
 Absolutely awesome.

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