First impressions may raise a few eyebrows: a medium route just 16km long? Don’t be fooled; out of these 16 kilometres, there aren’t many that will allow you to relax.
The first climb is the longest, but also the easiest, with a fair bit of tarmac and mostly at a gradient that will allow breathing, too. The Mam Tor road is just plain weird — a winding strip of contorted tarmac, interspersed with steep ramps and gaping cracks. It feels like a scene from a disaster movie, and all that’s missing are the piled-up trucks and cars that would predictably accompany it.
More tarmac leads up onto the western shoulder of the mountain, and then it’s dirt, on an awkward climb to the top of Rushup Edge. Now it’s payback time — particularly sweet if you like your riding rocky — on a chaotic jumble of boulders that only relents occasionally to present you with a slick rock drop-off. Enjoy it while it lasts — it’s way too short.
The fun’s not over yet, though. Next up comes the Chapel Gate drop — a contest of mind over matter, as you choose between running the gauntlet on the ever-narrowing concrete strip, or bouncing from stone to stone down the edges. Whatever you do, you’ll be pumped at the bottom, and probably in no mood for a steep climb straight back up again.
This one’s all tarmac — scant consolation — and followed by one of the Peak’s finest downhills. If you clean the steep gully early on, you’ll probably make the rest too; but so much will depend upon your choice of line.
It’s up again now — this time on grass to start with, but soon becoming more typically steep and stony. And then it’s one last drop, steep in places, easy in others. If you clean the final steep chute, you should be spared from buying the teas.