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Olly Townsend takes us on a tour of this epic northern landscape.


“That was where I nearly met my maker,” said Mike. I craned my neck to try to see where the trail went next. It looked like the perfect ribbon of handlebar-width singletrack, but a short distance in front of us it dipped steeply away and went around a 90° left-hand bend. The drop-off to the right-hand side, although not completely vertical, was steep enough that if you misjudged the corner, or got pinged off line by an errant rock, the consequences could involve a short fiight, followed by a much longer fiight in a large yellow whirlybird.

The view in front of us was stunning. Late afternoon sunshine was lighting up the wide glaciated valley, a vaguely discernible singletrack running down the left-hand side, weaving in and out of small interlocking spurs. It was like looking into a photograph in a dusty physical geography textbook. But although the view was textbook, actually riding the trail would prove to be somewhat more off-piste.

I’ve known Mike for around a decade and he’s one of the most competent and bombproof riders I’ve ever met. He’s a professional mountain bike skills instructor and pays his mortgage by teaching people how to conquer their demons and ride smoothly and safely down trails that initially scare the hell out of them. So, for Mike to be nervous about riding a route was a new experience for me. With no prior knowledge of the trail, I was relying on Mike and Phil, local resident and co-owner of the nearby Yorkshire Cycle Hub, to give me a heads-up as to what I was about to let myself in for.

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About Singletrack

Editorial: Chipps is in an upbeat mood and thinks that things have never been better. UK Adventure: Land of the Midnight Sun: Pete Scullion heads to the northern tip of Scotland in search of midnight sunlight and spectacular trails. Column: Don't Call It A Heatwave, Just Call It Summer: Fearing the weather will turn, Chipps is worn out from riding day after day after… International Adventure: Uncharted British Columbia: e organisers of the BC Bike Race lay on this increasingly spicy taster menu of Canada’s finest trails. Classic Ride: North York Moors: Where better place to start a ride than Fryup? Olly Townsend takes us on a tour of technical trails that he can’t quite believe are legal. Bike Test: Beyonduro: To infinity and beyond… well, maybe just 170mm. Dean Hersey tests out three huge travel bikes from Nukeproof, Santa Cruz and Whyte that are not just for riding downhill. Trail Hunter: Quantock Hills: James Vincent revisits old friends on new trails in the Quantocks and remembers how much fun it is to ride without having to carry your bike. International Adventure: Trans Angeles: Hans Rey, Missy Giove, and Timmy C. from Rage Against e Machine go on an all-star ride across Los Angeles, from the mountains to the ocean. UK Adventure: Tyke Packing: Barney defeats the lightweight, solitary, point of bikepacking by taking his young children with him. We’ll let you decide if this is a how-to guide, or a list of reasons not to. UK Adventure: Back to the Future Sanny goes on a trip down memory lane, and his body reminds him why modern bikes are a good thing. Last Word: The Same Sort of Different. Hannah thinks that the world can be a more interesting place if you ride a bike. We Just Work Here: Who we are, what we do and who we would trust to build us a bike from scratch.