MANY step forth on to the challenging summits but fewer will tackle the terrain on tyres.

"It is quite unusual to take a bike up Snowdonia but there's been a few who have done it...." says John Shackleton.

The 42 year-old spraypainter from Baildon decided to tackle the summit of Snowdonia along with his fellow mountain biking pals, Richard Baggerly and James Day.

"Myself, Richard and James have been very keen mountainbikers for around 10 years now, mostly riding locally but we have done Ben Nevis, Helyvellyn and other big peaks over the past few years.

"We had been talking for a while about doing Snowdonia as the next big one, so we set a date and made a plan and packed for our trip."

John explains he and his pals chose Snowdonia because they had heard it was an ideal descent on a bike.

Setting off late on Saturday November 11, the pals pitched up on a campsite in Llanberis Were, a village in Gwynedd, northwest Wales.

"Alarms were set for 4am hoping to catch the golden hour on our way up to the summit," recalls John.

But you can't depend on the weather! "It was throwing it down with rain so we went back to sleep till the rain had stopped."

The pals set off at 6.30am but as soon as they were in the saddle the rain started again. Eventually it passed and the weather stayed fine until they were half way up.

"Then on and off sleet and snow continued to follow us. We carried on our way up - the ground conditions changing to frost and ice and the wind had picked up.

"Just after the steep hard bit it levelled off a little for the last push to the summit by this time we had a 50mph wind behind us so was a nice easy last little bit."

Reaching the summit, the lads were battling blizzard conditions.

"We took shelter behind some rocks and had a little dinner. The wind was that strong up at the summit you could hardly stand up," recalls John.

The pals prepared for the ride back down and decided to take the rangers path to Llanberis. During their descent a break in the weather gave them some stunning views to savour as John recalls.

"Just as we were about to set off a break in the clouds appeared revealing some stunning mountain views which made the climb worthwhile."

He recalls how the first part of the descent was the worst. "The wind was just that strong making it hard to stay on the bikes."

The remainder of their ride back down saw them cycling over mainly steep and rocky terrain but with amazing views, although they all took a tumble on their way down.

"But all was Ok," added John.

A rear tyre blow out gave them the opportunity of a well deserved break before heading back to the campsite to pack up and head back home.

Being a keen photographer John, who is a member of the Bradford Photographic Society, believed to be one of the oldest photographic societies in the world, captured some stunning shots along the way - memories for him and his pals to treasure of conquering the challenging summit.

"I got into photography through mountain biking and hill walking, just being out and about seeing nature and some of the views and moments that I've seen," explains John.

He began using his phone as a camera and enjoyed re-living the moments after returning from a day out in the hills.

Three years ago a friend suggested he post his pictures on the social media site, Facebook.

"I didn't really believe it. I just thought 'it's a phone picture that anybody can take.'" says John.

But his photos speak for themselves and now John is hoping to pursue his passion for capturing mountainous regions and remote places through his photography.

"I've got a long way to go, but I'm moving forward at a fast pace with already a good following through Facebook," says John, whose next challenge looks likely to be the mountain, Helvellyn, between the lakes of Thirlmere and Ullswater in the Lake District.

"I will see where it takes me - all I need to do is believe in myself," he adds.

The Bradford Photographic Society is a group of amateur and semi-professional photographers.

The Society meets on Thursdays at 7.30pm (from September to June) in the downstairs meeting room of Upper Bolton Conservative Club. Membership currently stands at about 50.

The club was one of the founders of the Yorkshire Photographic Union and is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. It is also a member of the West Yorkshire Inter-club group, winning the 2013-14 championship.

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