1st of December. That time of year when it becomes socially acceptable to acknowledge that Christmas is just around the corner. For some the panic sets in to get to the shops, for others it brings the excitement of buying and decorating the tree! For us, the first of December brought official winter. A perfectly crisp, frosty white morning. You can’t get much more wintery and christmassy than that.
The idea of venturing out into the wintery chill could be slightly unappealing, it was the sort of chill that you knew would nip at your nose and freeze your fingers, the sort of cold that, to most, looked far prettier from behind the glass. Not for us, not today, because today was all about getting out there, into the refreshing chill, pushing ourselves and loving that feeling of winter sun. Today was mountain bike day!
As we drove out through the mist and fog of the Dartington valley towards Haldon Forest, we were soon welcomed with cloudless blue sky and sunshine. We set off on the ‘blue’, a moderate route but still a fun challenge. The route snaked through the woods, ducking and diving low branches, a few sneaky tree stumps popping up along the way, which resulted in the need for super quick reactions. The track opened out into a clearing, the frost glistening on the fallen leaves, as we crunched our way downhill, gaining speed with the sharp wind whistling past us. A few slips and skids over icy rocks added to the thrill of pelting it downwards, a quick look back over to check on the team and a glance up ahead to see a welcome stop point to catch a breather. No time to stop too long, in the shade of the trees that cold snap hits hard. Continuing along the twists and turns, along quick narrow paths, surrounded by thick forest and then the unfortunate misjudgement of my bike vs. a gap between two trees. The trees won. Thankfully no speed, so a slow, slightly pathetic fall and hug of the tree made for entertainment to Stuart who was close behind.
Views from the top of the forest stretched out across the hills of Dartmoor, cloud still laying low in the valleys. Picture perfect views for the first day of winter and not a bad way to start the Christmas season.