To everybody at MBR.
The following is an account of the events of Saturday 9th February 2008…
My alarm woke me sharp at 6:15am. Today was a Saturday not to be caught having a lie in, and not because the weather forecast had promised possibly the best day of the year for riding, but because there was treasure to be found in them there ‘ills!
We were on the road by 7am and as we took the M1 out of Leeds the fog was having a fight with the sun, and created fantastic Gaussian blur over the River Aire – or was that my sleepy eyes! The sun eventually won through and rudely awakened them as we topped Sutton Bank and headed at a good pace towards Helmsley.
Before we knew it we were at the top of Rosedale Chimney, giving me flashbacks of a ride out there some twenty years ago to watch the stars of the Kellogg’s tour grind their way up the infamous 1 in 3! We descended again into cloud and soon found ourselves in Rosedale Abbey – a loop through the village revealed one mountain biker getting ready for a ride, other than that all seemed quiet. A time check gave us thirty minutes in hand to prepare to pick up the co-ordinates!
The N95 was started up, and I knew I had the back-up of the girlfriend in Leeds – “best send her a text” I said (she was having a girly night in so I wanted to make sure she was online – and online!) Unfortunately – little did we know that the centre of Rosedale Abbey is a bit of a black hole when it comes to the new world of communications – and we were completely offline!
It was decided a retrace of our steps back towards Hutton-le-Hole was probably the best chance of resolving our signal issues. It came sooner than I expected and as we popped back through the cloud at the summit of Rosedale Chimney I was greeted with 7 bars on my phone, and a handy car park on the right! We made the necessary connections and prepared to wait for the release. The time was now 8:45am.
I was still in the middle of a painstakingly slow refresh when a message arrived. My girlfriend had come through with the goods – short and sweet, the message read SE724925 – have fun and good luck!
And we couldn’t believe our luck – plotting them down on to my previously glow pen routed Outdoor Leisure 26 – it transpired we’d parked at the closest place possible to the co-ordinates – all systems go! The bikes were pulled out and we quickly got ourselves ready to depart, but it seemed someone had been quicker, 2 bikers came up the bridleway from the direction of Rosedale and headed off towards the co-ordinates – impossible we thought – they couldn’t have got sorted that quick – could they?
As we were new to this terrain a ‘more haste, less speed’ approach was decided upon and as we could see Ana Cross in the distance, we chose this as our first checkpoint to make sure we were on track! (pun intended). We crossed the road and joined the track, with just enough time to notice a car, bikes rattling on its roof rack, hastily arrive in the car park behind us. Christ – this was getting serious!
The silhouetted figures of the first 2 bikers could be seen at the cross, and as we approached they disappeared over the hillside behind. From the cross I knew we’d be able to see towards the target, but I could see no sign of the bikers we were pursuing, all I could see was a lonely horse and rider, the only obstacle between us and the bounty now. The initial urgency fell by the wayside, but a quick look back revealed a small dot in the distance moving toward us and growing larger by the second, something wasn’t hanging about – and we weren’t either!
We beat down the track towards the horse and rider. Unfortunately for us the usual steadying of the pace and a well timed “hola” didn’t achieve the usual success of a ride-by, this young frisky steed obviously didn’t speak Spanish and bolted sharply, taking the rider off along our route before quickly turning and putting us in a stand-off situation! After a quick discussion with the lady rider it was decided that we should lay our bikes down and walk into the heather, allowing her and the horse to trot back past us unthreatened and unchallenged. Apparently this horse didn’t like things coming up its behind! Mmmm. And I didn’t like the fact something in the distance was coming up mine too!
I think we got to Spring Heads Turn about 15 seconds before Mr X. He dropped his bike and swung off his rucksack, then proceeded to pull out a trowel and said “This is it guys”. I knew then this was very, very serious! He was either an early morning gardening implement serial killer, or he was here to find hidden treasure!
Fortunately it was the latter (although I fancied my chances) and so we all started to rumble, sorry rummage! Mr X looked in one end of a water pipe pinned under the path, I jumped in to the freezing stream with a splash at the other end to check that out – empty.
It was at this early point I decided to leave him and my mate to it, and not because I had cold feet! I re-adopted the more haste, less speed approach, and put my head back in the map retracing the co-ordinates. They appeared to be suggesting a point westerly to the actual junction we were on. I scanned the horizon in search of a land mark – the cairn, the bloody cairn! I had taken barely 2 steps towards it when I realised Mr X had had the same light bulb illuminating in the head moment. Unfortunately for me he’d been rummaging much nearer and was already half way there. I knew immediately that was the spot, and I had lost. It was only a matter of time before he’d find the hidden treasure, sure enough moments later he lifted the second hand bottle aloft and waved it at me to tell me it was game over! He looked like he’d just found a golden ticket to Willy Wonka – I suppose he had!
I couldn’t believe how gutted I felt! Holiday aside I could have really done with a new multi-tool, and it appeared he already had an assortment of useful small tools – even if they were for his garden! Anyway, bitterness put to one side, I suggested I should get a photo of him with his booty (picture-01-mrx) and note – trowel – to aid his proof of discovery. Time stamp: 09.02.08: 09:18:20. Is that a record?
It appeared that this was the place to be on this fine February morning. Mr X’s partner/wife/girlfriend duly arrived and much to her delight discovered he’d been the successful bounty hunter. She reminded him that if they won the final prize, she was getting the bike – sweet! Shortly after a panting man arrived with his lungs in his mouth, having sprinted up from Lastingham. “You’ve not found it – have you?!” he gasped. I thought I was gutted, he’d driven from Northumberland that morning. There was just enough time for a quick photo before he did a u-turn and said he was going home!
He wasn’t the last. We set off on our consolation prize killer loop ride (completing the lower loop anti-clockwise first) and past 2 more stopped on their way up from Lastingham, having been intercepted by Mr Pants. We were later caught and passed by a guy that had come from Coventry to search, who said he’d several people at ‘the site’ that were passing on the message of the earlier raid – god knows how many others would be left searching aimlessly!
And are you’re wondering what happened to the two silhouettes from earlier? Eventually they were caught! Both were avid MBR readers and had read about the competition, but were blissfully unaware they were the first 2 bikers to pass the co-ordinates after release!
OK directors cut – I think I need to go for a big cheesy finish and say that everybody out on the moors on Saturday was a winner! You couldn’t fail to have had a great day as the weather was just perfect – and thanks to MBR I was there, so cheers guys – great route too – will have to try the lower loop the right way next time – made for a good technical climb that way though!
Mr Gutted (Glen Saxton)