Jennride Winter Edition 2024

Jennride Winter Edition 2024

By Stu Taylor

A cold, wet adventure replacing dreams of Narnia-like landscapes with drizzle and yellow weather warnings. Six brave souls—three dads, three teens—endured the elements, fording puddles and rain, for charity in the rugged Lake District.

The Jennride is a self-supported one-hundred-mile bike packing offroad route in and around the Lake District usually in summer, this is the first winter edition. 

Over the years the event has raised over ten’s of thousands of pounds for local charities. 

“It felt like we had pins and needles in our eyes, as were pelted with rain from all directions”. 

When filling out the entry forms for a winter edition of the Jennride my mind was busy fantasising of riding through a Narnia themed Lake District with the most beautiful of crisp white snow adorning the landscape, crunching under the wheels of the bikes whilst riding, this wasn’t to be. 

Six of us gathered at the start, three pretty cool dads and three lads aged 13 & 14 years old, we were all cladded in our waterproofs ready for the off.  

The reality of this year’s ride was no snow but drizzle from the start and a yellow weather warning for rain early afternoon, it was going to be a slightly different winter edition than I had imagined.  

We all left Staveley full of determination, despite the weather we were out to enjoy this. We soon reached the first checkpoint of Kentmere Reservoir not for the views! 

Next stop Ambleside for the legendary Alpkit checkpoint with hot soup, tea and cakes awaiting the already soggy riders. After a refuel and catch up with other riders the dads were keen to get moving as to not let the lads get too cold, although with what was coming up that wouldn’t be long. Checkpoint 4 was Kirkstone Inn where organiser Rich was snuggled up in his van hiding from the elements. We had choices on leaving Ambleside for the checkpoint either pedal and potentially very muddy push or tackle the infamous “struggle” the latter it was. Fully loaded spinning away up the road all the lads and dads were in good spirits, as we reached the top of the climb the Kirkstone Inn was invisible hidden in the low rain cloud and appeared as if out of nowhere! A quick clip of our brevet cards and raided Rich’s van of any sweets we could see we were off down Kirkstone pass with a dad at the front to slow down the young whippersnappers!  

Glenridding was lunch stop before we ventured over the most exposed section of the route for the day The Old Coach Road over towards Keswick. Sausage rolls, ice-creams, sweets and coffee was devoured in true bike packing style sat outside on the kerb watching the tourists busying around clad in all their walking gear.  

The Old Coach Road is a five-mile, high level off road pass that sits on the flanks of Clough Head and Matterdale Common. The surface soft and sandy feeling in places with plenty of puddles scattered around, with a real feeling of remoteness you wouldn’t want to get caught out up here in bad weather. The wind and rain began picking up as we reached the top, looking back we couldn’t see the others, so we decided to get down off the hill and find shelter from the rain. The descent was fun, flat-out Zach was riding a Sonder Evol full suspension whilst I was on my fully rigid Broken Road in 29er+ guile, we were both flying! Huddled behind a wall we found the next checkpoint number five where we sat waiting for the others to catch up. 

By now the rain was torrential we were starting to feel the cold and the water was creeping through our layers. The next checkpoint six at Old Dungeon Ghyll at sixty miles in was our last one for the day and where we would be getting a pub tea and camping for the night. Heads down we were slogging away, our lights on as visibility was bad and we opted for a road section past Thirlmere after hearing that forestry works was meaning riders were getting diverted off route in the woods. A nice climb up Dunmail Raise, leading to a long painful downhill into Grasmere. The rain was bouncing off the road by now, as we rode down “it felt like we had pins and needles in our eyes, as were pelted with rain from all directions” we could barely open them to see where we were going. One last climb and a sting in the tail for the day was Red Bank Hill before cruising into the campsite at around 6pm, we had made it day one done! Dads and lads had performed amazingly well in the tough conditions, but everyone dug deep and did so with a smile on their faces. 

Awaking the next morning to blue skies and bacon baguettes was like a dream come true, what a difference a day makes. With a more relaxed day and only forty miles to ride the lads were feeling confident and lucking forward to getting going making our way back to Staveley via Alpkit feed station of course. Up the road to Blea Tarn and razzing the singletrack from Hodge Close to Conisiton today was a good day to be out. A cheeky route through the Coppermine’s spitting us out on Walna Scar we had a mega mtb descent down to checkpoint seven at Torver. With Ambleside well and truly in our sights, we rode some classic mtb Lake District trails earning our cakes and goodies at checkpoint eight Alpkit store. The lads cleaned up the biscuits and cakes ready for the last push to the finish, up and over Jenkins Crag we meandered our way to Kentemere with the well-known three rivers descent our last one of the ride, we all whooped and hollered as we rode through the rivers and down the singletrack nearing the finish. Rolling into Hawkshead brewery we the dads had done it and more importantly the lads had done it to one hundred Lake District miles in adverse weather at only 13 and 14 they had ridden amazingly all weekend; they were proud of themselves and so were we the dads!! 

We are looking forward to the SUMMER edition!

Sonder Evol

160mm aggressive trail bike
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