I’ve been itching to go bikepacking for a while now, so when I was invited to join Jen and Anna on their weekend adventure I jumped at the opportunity. First things first, bags! I’d done a bit of research of what was on the market and there appeared to be quite a good amount of choice. However it didn’t take long to find the right bags for me after seeing Polaris’s Ventura range in the flesh at the Cotic Spring Party. Not only do they look cool, their bags are also lightweight, with loads of space for the trip essentials and includes a waterproof handlebar bag. Bags in the bag, next was packing!
Apart from the kit I chose to wear on Day 1, all this fitted in my Ventura handlebar bag and seat pack… with plenty of room to spare. I have an early confession to make, you may not be able to spot a tent or sleeping back in the neatly laid out kit above, and that is because we chose to go bikepackingglamping (now that’s out of the way). Mary Townely loop was our choice of ride. From what I’d previously researched ‘The Mary Towneley Loop is a 47-mile (76 km) circular route that forms part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail, along the borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The loop was opened in 2002, the first section of the Pennine Bridleway’ (thanks wikipedia) . The weather looked pretty drab so I packed my Dirtsuit, because it was probably going to rain and also I don’t really need an excuse not to wear it.
With excitement I fixed my bags onto my NEW ROCKET (just sayin’ I have a new bike). The bags easily fitted onto my bike with Polaris Fixie straps. These handy things are reusable, easy to fasten and release and can be adjusted to any length and even extended. I also packed a load of spare straps incase I wanted to attach anything else to my Rocket during the weekend.
We drove in convoy to Clowbridge Resevior and parked up the cars.With no pre-ride planning, just a (not so good) map in hand, we found the start of the loop by spotting a white acorn on a bridleway sign and we were off! We headed up onto the moors and the sense of adventure and excitement was very much present, all 3 of us smiling and stoked for the weekend.
Now it didn’t take us long before we got lost… Somehow we missed a signpost somewhere and ended up in a town, whoops. A regroup and a bit of Komoot and… let’s just head up and over that hill there and we were kind of on our way. We pedalled up and through Lee Quarry, sweet little spot to stop for some lunch and a good photo opportunity. We didn’t explore much, but there were some cool trails and a bit of what looked like a pumptrack to play on. We then climbed up and up a long windy path- would have been awesome to ride down though, hate it when that happens. When we got to the top we were greeted with a really cool paved bridleway and finally spotted a little acorn! Hooray! Back on the route we had some spikey climbs and then some sweet singletrack that took us over some streams, through some farms. Before we knew it, we were lost again though haha. The race was now on for us to head to Hebden Bridge before dark, but not before a quick wild trail snack. Loved the external bungee cord storage on the Ventura seat pack!It was 6pm and, following a good look at the maps we realised that we were too far off our original loop and the only option for us to get to our B&B before dark was the train! Jen leading the convoy we headed for the main road and rushed a 20 minute ride to the station, with literally a minute to spare and the train already at the platform we made a mad dash to get on it before it was too late! Blocking the doors, aisles and everyones way we crammed our bikes into a carriage, with 3 big sighs of relief.
Our B&B was luxury and Hebden bridge is lovely! When arriving at our accommodation for the night I took my bags off the with absolute ease. I was super tired and super grateful to not be spending the night in a tent. Bellys filled with some great snap and some wine, all the Z’s were in order ready for Day 2.
Day 2An awesome nights sleep and the best breakfast, we were all eager to find Mary. Bags back on bikes, a quick bike check and we were off once again! I’d like to say that we found the Mary Townley loop quickly, but then I’d be lying. 45 minutes of riding around Hebden bridge we eventually found her! Turns out that we actually needed the warm up anyway so riding around aimlessly in circles was helpful because a very steep and long climb was ahead of us! Totally worth the slog because of the view at the top, it’s always about the views.
After a quick snack break, we then followed our little white acorn, unfortunately, it didn’t take us long to yet again to GET LOST. The acorn’s disappeared into thin air, and we were left hating Mary. After a slog down a muddy track, chat to a local and a slog back up it, we decided to call it and forget about the illusive Mary and just crack on with a day of riding. A lot of road was now ahead of us, but with the need to get back to the cars before the carpark was locked we didn’t have much choice! Still smiling and Mary pushed to the side with a bit of Komoot help we were back on track. This time not looking out for trails, just enjoying the ride and the views. We had a coffee break in a pub and then pushed on to our destination. Before we knew it we were back to where it had all started! 35k later, we got to the cars in no time with time spare to practice our wheelies in the carpark.So we didn’t find Mary, and I don’t think I want to find her anyway. Mega weekend with these wonderful wild women,the bags were amazing, thanks Polaris! So, whens the next trip, this time with a tent maybe?
Thanks Anna for the photos.