Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Kraken Wakes!

A combination of events and ideas led me to the name for this blog. First, the friend with whom I hoped to spend the Summer going off biking round the Yorkshire Dales unfortunately broke his ankle so I am, for now, a solitary cyclist. Secondly, I read and reread all the Sherlock Holmes stories years ago, including The Solitary Cyclist, so the title naturally appealed. Thirdly, I'm a regular reader of The Solitary Walker blog and what he does on two legs I intend to do on two wheels.

My legs are over half a century old and have taken a lot of punishment over the years, taking me up and down hills as fast as they possibly can. Recently they’ve started to complain a bit. I get out running for a few weeks then find I’ve developed a twinge. I then have to take it easy for a couple of weeks. I go out running again, just a little at first, build it up gradually then… Another twinge.

The trouble is,  not only do I need to keep fit but also I really enjoy running – especially off-road. I’ve been out fell running on and off for thirty-odd years. I’m no good at it, if being good means doing well in fell races. Although I’m a bit of a loner where running is concerned, I have entered them occasionally and always come near the back of the field. I wasn’t faster when I was younger and I don’t seem to have slowed down  that much with age. Moreover, focusing on training never improved my times by very much. However, there’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of arriving at the top of a hill under your own steam. At times it’s hard work but there are times, too, when running over a summit or along a ridge is like walking on air. I enjoy hill-walking but when I’m out walking, if I’m enjoying the walk, I’m invariably planning a return visit, with my fell shoes.

With all this in mind, I decided to  be kind to my joints and get a mountain bike. I ended up buying a Carrera Kraken. I’m having a great deal of fun with it both on the road and on the hills. Swaledale isn’t far from here. It’s famous for its Land Rover tracks, good paths and long ridges. My first expeditions into its hills have been cautious – I’ve ventured no further than eight miles so far. They’ve certainly lived up to expectations, though on one occasion I learned the hard way that cycling up steep, rough tracks into a strong headwind is nigh-on impossible (and certainly no fun).

I thought it would be good to film these exploits but, I quickly discovered there’s no need: there’s plenty of Youtube videos of mountain bike rides out there already. There’s probably a whole shed-load of hard drives somewhere devoted to storing them. This film was filmed a few years ago by mountain bikers in Swaledale, not far from the area I’ve been exploring. It certainly captures the fun that’s there to be had. Thank you, Lee and Niel (whoever you are!):


  1. Love this new blog, Dominic. Sounds like you're on your way to yet another exciting chapter in your life. I used to cycle quite a bit (five long trips through France and a one-month ride through China), but I've spent most of my recreational time in recent years with walking. I look forward to following your adventures.

    1. Thanks for that. I guess my Rogans' Seat jaunt probably crossed your Coast to Coast. I've certainly been up and around Surrender Bridge. I seem to think the tracks round there are "Coast to Coast".