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Out (and Back) - a welcoming Hillgrimage!


A while back, David Sharpe from Out Velo approached us for some help planning and promoting their summer Pride weekend rides in our beautiful neck of the woods. The brief was straightforward - the group wanted plenty of big hills, some glorious Lakes and Dales lanes and some iconic vistas of the Cold Dark North - we were delighted to help David and the group to plan two days chasing rainbows. We honestly didn't expect that in late June they might see more MIZZLE than rainbows - but here's David's write up of a fantastic weekend - they are definitely not made of sugar! - Tobes




Hillgrimage… what a word! For Out Velo it will forever mean more than just a big trip up “the big hill”, it will mean a journey to our heart and soul, a journey home...  


We’re an LGBTQ+ led cycling club, active across the UK, with a passion for adventures in our beautiful wild spaces. We call ourselves ‘adventure cyclists’ - we ride mainly on road but with an increasing dabble into gravel (and often somewhere in between!). Weekends are our thing, and sometimes a bit of bikepacking (usually without a tent!). Our members are mostly LGBTQ+ but we have an increasing number of loyal allies joining us on most events. 


For 10 years now, we’ve brought cyclists together, initially with OutdoorLads and the Gay Outdoor Club, and for the last couple of years as our own independent cycling club, registered with British Cycling. We’re foremost a group of friends, but we are also a network of talented and passionate people who run events for local LGBTQ+ cycling clubs across the country, sharing our knowledge and experience. 


In our time, we’ve ridden all across the UK, but The Lake District, the Dales and the Forest of Bowland have given us our most cherished memories. Our heart and soul is in the Cold Dark North, nowhere can compete, this is our home. So when we were offered the chance to team up with Toby to put our latest event together we couldn’t resist!


None of us had ridden Great Dun Fell so it was high time to get it ‘dun’! We based ourselves in Penrith, with two days' riding expertly planned by Toby, one past Ullswater, up Kirkstone and back via the Lune Gorge, and the other up the big hill itself via the lovely Eden Valley. 


Day One - A Struggle worth the effort




Day one started with some Cumbrian mizzle (or is it Smur?), but we’re used to it, not made of sugar here. A nice fast run out to Ullswater was followed by the lovely new tarmac up the familiar Kirkstone, the sheep didn’t laugh at us quite as much as they normally do, probably feeling too damp! By some miracle the sun came out for us in the Lune Gorge, and we were soon heading along the lumpy lanes towards Greenholme. It was somewhere around here we realised Komoot was lying to us and we’d already done all of the predicted 1,500m elevation, with 40km still to go… I know from experience this area often throws things off, but it was a bit of a shock to the group to realise we would top 2,000m of climbing, and with the big hill still to do on tired legs the next day! 



Our people are our lifeblood. We had a brand new member down from Glasgow, I’d been worried about how he’d cope with this unexpected brutality, but it was about here he broke into a broad grin and was bouncing along, all smiles! For us ride leaders, seeing such a happy new face is what drives us to keep pushing Out Velo forward, sharing our passion for adventure cycling with others gives amazing joy.


This moment at Greenholme was my highlight of the weekend, as I could see in our new member the strong spark of a passion for what Out Velo is all about, and also the potential for a new connection to new Scottish friends and new adventures. 


We stopped at the shop in Orton, and suddenly Tim Farron (The recent MP and candidate in this week's General Election - Ed) made a cameo appearance in the middle of our group! Orton Scar felt brutal, but it wasn’t long until we were back in Penrith for some much deserved pizza. 


Day Two - The Hillgrimage




Next morning it was a fast run up to the base of the UK's highest road, then what I certainly found to be a very punishing climb. Having done the North Coast 500 a few weeks ago with Out Velo, I can safely say climbing the Bealach na Bà with no sleep and a nasty head cold is easier than climbing Great Dun Fell fit and rested! 


At the top we met lots of locals on gravel bikes, all of whom know Cold Dark North it seems, famous up here! I think they had picked the right groupset for this particular brute.


Down we came and a near bonk for me 1 mile from the cafe at Melmerby, the previous day certainly taking its toll. Caked up, we were soon back to Penrith and happy memories. 



We very much hope to join forces with Cold Dark North again next year, and we’d dearly love to bring some LGBTQ+ cyclists from “the over-populated, traffic heavy South” together with those from Scotland and the North - to grand plans ;) 


In preparation for the Out Velo Pride Weekend, we planned a number of options for the Group and you can find the collection of options here. As always, if you or your group need help honing your routes, we'd be happy to help for the price of a small charitable donation. Get in touch - hello@colddarknorth.co.uk or slip into our DMs.



And here's some of David's favourite snaps from the weekend...





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So glad i found Outvelo, i’ve met some awesome folk and cycled in some really beautiful areas of the country (that mostly aren’t flat 😂). Looking forward to many more adventures 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️👍😁

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Thanks so much for the fantastic routes. Out Velo trips have a lovely 'vibe' regardless but chatting-away as we rode along almost traffic-free roads in beatiful scenery was the icing on the cake. Gt Dun Fell was really something special. Climbing up the ramps into the clouds and the cheers as everyone emerged from the gloom and made the summit......wonderful.

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