Adventures on my gravel bike

Riding the Peaks and Yorkshire Dales on a Trek Checkpoint

Long-time Red Kite Cycles customer Peter popped in for a gear tune up and told us about his gravel bike adventure in the Peaks and Yorkshire Dales on his Trek Checkpoint. 

Looking for some nature and an escape from work, he headed north in his campervan for three days of gravel riding. 

First stop was Ashbourne for the Tissington trail, a 35 mile route along disused railways. It was the first bit of gravel he’d ridden so he wanted a moderate ride especially riding solo. It took about 4 hours and he was pleased to discover the Checkpoint coped with the bumpy surface absolutely fine. 

The next port of call was Swaledale, where his friend Chris joined him, and together they tackled the gravel route of the Swale Trail. Sections of the trail are seriously lumpy and ranked as ‘expert’ level, the Checkpoint, however, coped very well. 

Swaledale was one of the most technical and difficult rides he’d ever done.

“I was riding out of the saddle clipped into cleats, losing traction on the climbs. It was physically and mentally demanding. About 10% of it was really tough and hair-raising. The profile was about 4,000 feet of climbing in 34 miles. Definitely a good workout!”

“It’s about having faith in the bike. At first, you think it’s all about carefully picking your route through the bumps and potholes, but it’s easier if you switch off and relax; trust yourself and trust the bike’s abilities.”

 “The most thrilling moment was going downhill at speed over rough terrain thinking ‘how am I going to get through this?!’ along with ‘Wow, this bike is amazing!’”

The third ride was to an out and back ride to Masham, home of Black Sheep Brewery, a 45 mile route and with a total ascent of 3,500 feet.  

“We were cycling in crosswinds for much of the route. Riding parallel to hedgerows, passing gaps and gates we’d get huge gusts of winds that would blast us sideways. We had to ride single file rather than two abreast but I felt confident that the bike would stand up to it. The last 8 miles we rode into a 22 mph headwind and it was a real slog to reach the end.”

“ That said, I don’t think gravel riding is as demanding as mountain biking, it’s about tackling terrain that a road bike can’t. You can go down a lost lane or a gravel track that you can’t do on road tyres. A gravel bike gives you that flexibility. It takes you to places where a road bike can’t go.”

“We sunk a fair few pints at the Black Sheep Brewery when we finished. It’s amazing how many slip down when you’re rewarding yourself at the end of an epic ride!”

Peter rides a Trek Checkpoint AL 5 with a wheel upgrade to Mavic Allroads and 35mm tubeless tyres.