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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 127 > GOING OVER TO THE DARK SIDE

GOING OVER TO THE DARK SIDE

Sanny and Dene head out on a pre-dawn mission proving that winter shouldn’t be a barrier to fun.

Be honest. It’s hard not to feel your heart sink, if only just a little, at the thought of the impending winter. Shorter days, colder temperatures, muddy trails – they don’t exactly entice you in the way that the sun on your skin and the seemingly endless days of summer can. Instead, a routine of endlessly charging lights, drying shoes and heading out in winter slop on dreary grey days and inky black nights awaits. While magazines and the internet do a roaring trade in images of riders blasting down dusty singletrack trails under a canopy of verdant green with the warming sun and azure blue skies above, you would be forgiven in believing that this is the only truly enjoyable type of mountain biking. Tempting as it may be to hang up the wheels and go to (whisper it) the gym, or the pub, let me be the one to open your eyes to the art of the possible. Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, I give you the dawn raid.

While the days may shorten dramatically as winter sets in, the opportunities to experience something a bit special are in no way diminished. Snow brings out a new set of skills and transforms familiar trails into somewhere fresh and new, the clarity of light makes for views that feel like they go on forever, while you can watch a sunrise from the top of a hill or mountain without having to get up at stupid o’clock.

Like the middle of the night… only later.

And so it was that Dene and I found ourselves suiting up in the car park at the base of Ben Ledi just after 6am on an unseasonably mild February morning. Our plan was simple. We would head up onto the mountain and be at the top for sunrise at 7.12am. The weather gods were on our side. While Kew Gardens in London baked in 21°C, viewers in BBC Scotland were being treated to their own special programming of dry trails, clear skies and a complete lack of snow in the mountains. When we planned the ride, we envisioned hiking up through the snowline with flexible running spikes on our feet and winter tyres on our bikes. But it was not to be. No matter. We had a bluebird day in prospect and weren’t about to waste it.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: Wear Sunscreen Chipps lifts the veil on the uneconomic world of newsagent magazine sales. UK Adventure: Going Over To The Dark Side Shorter winter days mean you can do a dawn raid without having to get up too early. Classic Ride: The South Downs Blue skies, chalky trails and endless riding make for a perfect combination. Tom Hutton takes on the trails around Cissbury Ring. Column: Jason Miles It’s not all about chafing and suffering in Jason’s endurance racing world. Sometimes it’s about haunted helmets… International Adventure: Letting Go And Finding Flow Some journeys aren’t about the miles ridden. Amanda explores the trails of Denmark, while unwinding some of the twisty singletrack in her head. UK Adventure: My Grandad’s Head In A Jar Adam Batty gets rad with his dad and his dad’s dad. And all thanks to some electric bicycle help. Keeping Track Of Time At The Trans-Provence 2019 saw the final Trans Provence. Tom Hill looks back on what made the event so special, from the unique view of those riders not racing, but working the course every day. Column: Still Going After a mere 20 years, Chipps reckons his SPD pedals are just about needing a service. UK Adventure: Making It Up In The Lake District Drawing a line on a map and following it over the roof of the Lake District is certainly one way to see the Lakes. Follow Chipps and Nigel Page to see if it’s actually a good one. Bike Test: British Steel Not just designed in the UK, but cut, mitred and welded here too. Three aggressive hardtails on test from 18 Bikes, Shand and Stanton are put to the test. International Adventure: Verbier By Train Can we really appreciate the places we ride if we’re helping to destroy them by getting there? Mark took a low carbon approach.