Biking Family Adventure Capital

A special ‘mountain bike’ proposal for leap year

Written by Kirstie Pelling

A special proposal for leap year

Stuart tells me he’s taking me for a day out in Keswick.

For Leap Year.

“It only comes around every 1460 days so we should do something special.”

Something special for leap year? Does he mean he’s going to propose? But we are already married….

I rack my brains about what he could be planning, before having a eureka moment. We’re going to renew our vows! I imagine the little slate chapel, set into the Keswick mountains, with the sun beaming its approval through the clouds, just as he says I do, again. Perfect.

29 er in Keswick

A special proposal for leap year

Wait a minute.. a bike shop?

It’s something of a surprise then, when we pitch up at the Lakeland Pedlar cafe and bike shop.

“We’re here for the 29-er” says Stuart to the man behind the desk. My ears prick up. Wasn’t that in the Karma Sutra?

“Er, what is the 29-er?” I quietly wonder out loud.

“The 29-er is the future” says a guy who introduces himself as the man from Cannondale.

None the wiser, I find myself being redirected over the road to Keswick Mountain Bikes, following a trail of mud spattered young men up the path. Ah, Stuart must be planning to buy me a bike for leap year. Well that’s quite romantic.

“I’m here for my 29-er,” I repeat Stuart’s words with confidence to the man behind the desk.

Mountain Bike 29

So this is a 29-er

What is a 29er? It doesn’t sound romantic

“Right then, let’s get you sorted out. I’ve got a really nice Jett here that might suit you,” he says, leading me out of the shop and onto the pavement where he hands me a spanking new mountain bike.I caress my new toy.

“Give it a spin and see if you like it,” he says, before going back into the shop.

I try to get on. It’s a bit tricky because the bike has no pedals. A bike without pedals? Now that really is the future.

I’m trying to scoot around the car park when Stuart comes out with two pedals. “What are you doing?” he says.

I know a little about mud, sweat and gears. But apparently you need pedals too

“It’s so sweet of you to buy me a bike for leap year.” I stammer, trying to cover up my mistake as he fixes them on. “I thought we might be getting re-married today but this is just as good.”

Stuart shoots me a look. “It’s a test ride,” he says. “We have to bring them back in an hour. Did we get divorced and I didn’t notice?”

Keswick Mountain Biking

Heading out of town I put my determined face on

29ers are a new style of mountain bike

It’s Alex from the bike shop who fills me in on the mystery of what I’m doing here, explaining that the shop has invited cycle enthusiasts to come and try out some 29-ers, bikes with a 29 inch wheel, to mark February 29th.

“It’s like a new category of mountain bike,” he explains. “The 29 inch wheel will never take over from a 26, but it’s really fun. The larger wheel inspires confidence in those without much experience. 29-ers have been around for ever and a day in The States. They’re less common here but they are the future. I think you’ll find it gives you a much smoother ride over the bumps.”

The bumps??

Biking to Latrigg

Heading up the bridleway to Latrigg

The only bumps at Gregg’s the bakers are sausage roll shaped. We unwittingly spend a good portion of the allotted hour buying a pie for lunch because there’s a queue.

Stuart’s pie seems to act like rocket fuel and he bombs ahead, leaving me bimbling along Keswick rail trail on my own. So much for our romantic day out.

On Latrigg Keswick

Sometimes determination isn’t enough!

Fuelled by pie we head for the hills

I catch up with him at the top of Latrigg, wondering what all the fuss was with the 29 inch wheels. But as I descend I soon find out. This bike is the equivalent of a Range Rover, absorbing rocks and stones and jagged edges under its generously sized wheels.

“Watch out for Costcutters,” I think I hear Stuart shout as he races downhill ahead of me. I look everywhere for a misplaced supermarket, only to realise he meant cross gutters when I fall into one.

Views over Lake District

Climbing Latrigg there are great views out across the Northern Lakes

But otherwise I fly. At the edge of the hill, as we wind back into Keswick, the sun belts onto Derwentwater, and the scene is exactly as I imagined, except I am holding a mountain bike rather than a bouquet. I’m surprised to find I’m happy about that.

We pass two of the mud splattered men from the bike shop coming the other way. They hold open a gate for us. “We’ve been to Glenderaterra,” they announce.

“We’ve been to Greggs.” I grin.

Heading down I realise what mountain biking is all about

I have fallen in love after all…

It takes just minutes to get back to the bike shop.

“I’ve fallen in love with this bike,” says Stuart, who is also mud splattered.

“That’s not how it was supposed to happen,” I say.

These are beautiful machines. How could one not fall in love?

In the shop I reluctantly hand the bicycle back to Alex.

“How was it then?”

“Awesome. Only twenty nine inches will satisfy me in future,” I say, loudly enough for Stuart, and the rest of the shop to hear.

Mountain Bike Trick

I can dream can’t I?

Did you do something special for Leap Year?


This post is part of our Family Adventure Capital Season. We’re exploring different ways families can adventure together in and around Cumbria, sharing ideas and inspiration to encourage families to get out, get active and adventure together.

Got some ideas for things we should try? Let us know.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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