Dales Trails: Why should you go on a guided ride?
Since riding ‘Ard rock Enduro for the last two years I have fallen in love with the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales and the Reeth area in particular. So when “Dales Trails” reached out to me and asked if I would like to go back for a ride around the ‘Ard Rock location, I did not hesitate one bit. Dales Trails is a company offering guided tours of Swaledale, led by Neil Todd, a friendly gentleman who has been riding for a while and knows every nook and cranny around Swaledale.
You might wonder why would I go on a guided ride? Can’t I just do it myself? Well, of course you can but taking a guided ride is totally different and there are a number of reasons why you might want to consider taking part in one in 2018.
Firstly, guided rides eliminate the problem of faffing around with maps, gps or strava. Instead you can put your faith in a person who knows the route inside out and will make your ride seem effortless (apart from all the, you know…effort). No matter whether it is a trip in your local area or far away in a different country on totally different trails, you will learn something new and find trails that you wouldn’t be able to without a guide. Neil kept us informed about what was coming up on the trails without being overbearing about it. At one location he had even made a small rock cairn as an identifying feature to help us find the cake stop.
Secondly, if you have picked a good guide like Neil and you have explained your skill level then ride will be suited to your abilities, perhaps with a few challenging moments chucked in. How often did you find yourself going down a new track and having to stop and walk down it just to make sure you weren’t about to go over the bars round the next corner? Neil even sent us out a questionnaire before the ride to understand our ability levels and match the route to them. When we were out on the ride Neil would warn us or even show us to make sure we are aware of the danger, I felt like I was in safe hands throughout the ride.
Thirdly, riding with a guide in unfamiliar terrain is much safer. The fact that they know where you are and (should be) first aid trained, should make the trip relaxing in the knowledge that if something happens, you will be in good hands, figuratively speaking. Thankfully I did not have to call upon Dales Trails’ map reading or medical abilities, though our trip was peppered with a number of comedy fails and bails thanks to yours truly.
As I said at the top, Neil Todd aka Dales Trails invited a few ladies on a bike ride last November to Reeth in the Dales. When I left the house the cold had well and truly settled in over the hills. The thermometer in the car said -4 outside, though it felt even colder. When we arrived at the place, Neil greeted us with a smile that was far warmer than the weather and led us up the hills. The climbs around Reeth are varied from really steep, rocky natural tracks to slightly less steep fire roads, so obviously there was plenty of time to recover after the eye watering descents. Neil kept the rest stops well spaced out and we were always able to catch our breath and eat some cake.
When it comes to the descents, they were fun, fast and slippy, though in part this was due to the icy conditions. The mix of rocky and grassy terrain reminded me of ‘Ard Rock Enduro earlier in the year and I could hear from the “whoops” that the girls were enjoying it. Dales Trails showed us some trails that weren’t included in the race runs and whilst It definitely had a similar feel to it, it was more natural and opened up the riding more. Despite the differences in abilities, all of the participants in the trip had fun and found challenges to suit them.
And most of all, the views were beautiful, the Yorkshire Dales were frosty and quiet (apart from said whooping and hollering). The barren heathers were being burnt (to allow the plants to regenerate after the burn and enrich the soil) and apart from us there were few other people on the hills, we had the hills to ourselves. The small villages below looked warm with the smoke lifting from the chimneys and the skies stayed clear throughout the day. We crossed rivers, forests and climbed rocky grounds. You get the picture.
We finished off the ride in Dales Cafe, with delicious cake and coffee. They have a nice selection of cakes (for all different dietary requirements) and a well stocked shop as well as a toilet with showers if you are ever in need.
I would recommend anyone to go on a guided ride at least once. No matter whether it is 10 minutes away from your house or in a different country, there is a great benefit to exploring the trails with someone that does so for a living. If you are looking for a great guide around the Yorkshire Dales, then give Dales Trails a shout.
January 17, 2018