The Best Bike Ride of My Life

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Jacob Martin recently rode the rugged Lakeland 200 bikepacking route in the UK’s Lake District National Park with several friends. It turned out to be what he calls the best bike ride of his life. Find a short written reflection and a beautiful collection of images here, all shot on film…

The Lake District National Park promises some of the most dramatic mountainscapes in England, and perhaps the very best in old-school mountain biking too. The Lakeland 200 is a multi-day loop that offers a broad overview of the region, taking in several of the classic mountain bike trails the area is known for. All that said, with 20,013 feet (6,100 meters) of climbing over 127 miles, and some chunky tracks to boot, the route isn’t for the faint. Still, Jacob Martin and a few friends recently tackled this beast and had the time of their lives. Along the way, Jacob documented these memorable moments and put together this fun visual essay. All of these photographs were taken on a Canon AE-1 with Canon 35mm and 100mm lenses. The film consisted of four rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and one roll of Kodak TriX 400. As Jacob tells it, “This was actually quite a nice setup to carry on the bike as it’s lightweight compared to modern DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.”

Words and photos by Jacob Martin (@mid_nowhere)

The other week I went on a bike ride.

It was the best bike ride of my life.

Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
Across five days we cycled over 200km.

200km of mountain passes.

Beautiful woodland.

Dusty trails at sunset.

200km of great friends.

Laughs.

And wild discomfort.

  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
I remember hours of hike-a-bike.

I remember falling off.

I remember rain.

And I remember the roughest trails I’ve ever seen.

But I also remember enjoying it all.

Almost every single minute.

Actual type 1 fun.

Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
It’s weird.

It was super hard but also easy.

That sounds mad.

I know…

But that’s how it felt.

  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
We were riding the Lakeland 200.

A big loop around the Lake District, designed to pull together all the best bits of trail in the area.

I would describe it as a wonderful sufferfest.

Imagine pushing your bike up the stairs for two hours.

That’s what some bits were like.

  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
But just about anything can be fun with the right people.

I was with my friends Tom and Hugo for the five days.

And Will and Issy joined for some parts.

These are great people.

They made this pretty special.

  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
Towards the end of the fourth day we were on our third hike-a-bike mountain pass of the day.

It was a long day.

Wow.

We crested the ridgeline to the golden hour light and 350 vertical meters of descent down to camp for the night.

The smiles dwarfed the mountain.

The dusty, fast, perfect trail was glowing in the evening light.

Maybe the best moment of the trip.

Yeeeeeeewwwwww!!!!!

  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
  • Best Bike Ride of My Life, Jacob Martin
There were many other moments of pain and so many more smiles.

Stories impossible to communicate in any way I know.

So yeah.

That was the best bike ride of my life.

Would I recommend you give it a go?

Absolutely not.

Absolutely YES!

– Jacob

Jacob Martin

About Jacob Martin

Jacob is a maker of things from Pembrokeshire, Wales. At the start of 2021 he quit his job to make films, take photos and adventure until he runs out of money. His goal is to make and do the things that he finds truly interesting in the world. He shares his stories through his blog and newsletter at midnowhere.co.uk and can regularly be found on instagram @mid_nowhere.

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