#ColdDarkRides - Christina Wiejak
#ColdDarkRides are here to inspire your winter planning and give you an insight into the roads that our friends in the Cold Dark North love to call their favourites.
The brief for some of our favourite local riders, brands and photographers remains the same: give us 5 photos and descriptions of the places you love to ride and a bit of blurb on yourself. Over the coming months we'll be sharing their secret climbs, epic rides and favourite spots here in the Road Gauge and on Instagram.
Christina Wiejak started life as a runner who dabbled in a bit of mountain biking, before discovering skinny tyres a few years ago. Cumbrian to the core (Wiejak is a proper Cumbrian name, honest!), she can talk about all things bikes and the Lake District all day long.
Christina loves nothing more than long rides around Cumbria with her bike-minded pals; café stops are compulsory. She is proud to be a two-time 3 Peaks Cyclocross winner, and when her self-proclaimed role of ‘Café Queen of Cumbria’ allows, can also be found on the start line of Elite road races, criteriums and time-trials.
Christina loves a good climb, and despite Cumbria having the best riding in the World (obviously!), she can’t get enough of taking her bike to sunnier climates in search of silky tarmac and big mountains (Lancashire? - Ed).
Woodland Fell || 4.5km, 3.4%av
If I had to pick one road, just one, this would be it. This little known fell road is the hidden gem of South Lakes. It’s beautiful, with an incredible backdrop over the fells, and as you reach the top, the Duddon Estuary.
You’re more likely to meet a rogue sheep than a car. If you ride from the hamlet of Woodland up towards Gawthwaite, prepare for some proper kickers and sharp bends. It’s a climb of two halves, with a short flowing section of descent before you’re treated to Woodland - part 2. Enjoy, this one is special!
Hummer Lane (aka ‘Old Rake’) || 1.9km, 8%av
Ride out of Torver towards Broughton and you’ll soon catch a glimpse of this wall. It’s the epitome of ‘stabby’.
It’s rudely steep at first, but as the gradient starts to ease, the view across the Western Lakes starts to open up and the hustle and bustle of tourist-central behind you are long forgotten. Follow this road right over to Broughton Mills, bearing right for the delights of Kiln Bank Cross.
Oh and don’t forget to stock up on homemade snacks at the Wallenrigg Honesty Hut on your way over!
Coniston- Dead End Club-Walna || 1.3km, 9.6%av
Not all of the best road climbs lead somewhere; some should just be ridden because they’re there.
Cold Dark North have embraced the #DeadEndClub, so it was only right to include this absurd offering of a road. Head up the ramp opposite the Coniston chip shop, round a couple of bends and then you’ll see ‘it’, in all it’s glory. Best not to look up again! This is the road to the base of Walna Scar and Coniston Old Man, so opt for early or late in the day to avoid traffic-this is NOT a climb you want to stop on.
It’s amusingly steep and straight to begin, but does let up and become *sort of* enjoyable from then on. Keep going until the gate at the top… unless you’re on knobbly tyres, in which case, the Coniston fells await.
Gamswell || 5km, 4.5%av
‘The Moor’, as it’s affectionately named, is a bleak expanse of moor between Ulverston and Kirkby-in-Furness, with 7 roads up in various directions, of varying silliness. We’re talking 25% gradient signs galore, so it was a challenge to only chose one!
I’ve chosen Gamswell (aka ‘Horace’) because it kicks up directly out of Ulverston, straight out of the backdoor of the ‘Farmer’s Arms’. You gain height quickly, with the view behind you over Morecambe Bay one of the best around. There are small sections of rest bite as you proceed, but don’t be fooled - you’ve not reached the summit yet! When you finally get there, you’ll know about it - this view is special over the Furness Bay.
'Parkamoor' || 3.1km, 5.1%av
As an off-roadie at heart, I was offered a special dispensation to include one ‘gravel’ section. I struggled with this - there’s just too much goodness around to only pick one. It’s basically the equivalent of asking a parent to pick their favourite child. Anyway, it had to be ‘Parkamoor’. This special track takes you from the East side of Coniston up into Grizedale Forest. Not so long ago, it was one of the best MTB descents in South Lakes, but with some heavy-handed trail maintenance, it has been converted to a serious GRVL route. Every cloud…silver lining!
This one is long and tough, with techie, steep challenges, but if you bring gears and plenty of grit, it’s all doable! Just don’t expect a (ride) in the park. Bear right at the fork for a more GRVL-friendly option, and don’t forget to take a second to admire the view across the top; it’s arguably the best around.
You can often find Christina in a caf somewhere in the Western Lakes or on Instagram here. If all goes to plan she'll be back ripping up the racing scene of the North West in 2021!