Today we’ve had fantastic weather. Not a cloud in the sky all day. Despite the popular term “April showers” it’s not unusual for us to have a good, dry month in April. Before the vegetation grows too high it can be some of the best mountain biking of the year. Today I returned to the Rivington area to try one of the challenges I set myself in January. It’s a tough hill climb up the delightfully named Crooked Edge Hill. It has 3 cairns at the top which are known as “The Two Lads”!
Spring has sprung in our garden. Nice.
I started with about 20 minutes of road riding then I decided to do the harder, steeper way up the Rivington terraced gardens. It saves time to do the tougher climb and I rode the hard part without a foot down. It was quite breezy and as I rode up to Rivington Pike, one of the higher hills in the area, the wind was directly against me. I was already concocting my excuse if I couldn’t make todays challenge! First, though, I had to do the exciting descent with it’s rocky drop offs. I learnt on my last ride that the right hand side of the route is the most cut up by so much use. I stuck to the left and was 7 seconds faster than last time but still my time was double the fastest ever. I just put safety first on this downhill. It isn’t worth the risk of doing it quickly, at least not to me.
Then it was on to my challenging climb. The wind was against me as I ascended, which is unusual. The prevailing wind from the south west would have been perfect. It wasn’t looking good to me and I considered giving up before the first hard part but thought I should at least nail that part. It’s become easier where recent erosion has been kind to MTBers so I carried on up the easier slope. The next previously hard part was even easier so I was facing the really steep last part. You’ve already worked so hard then you’re faced with a real kick up in the gradient. 2 things stopped me. First was the wind still trying to throw me back down the hill. The second was that I haven’t tried this route for some time and had not remembered that you need to keep to the rougher grass to the left, not take the foot worn path on the right. The rougher part isn’t quite as steep and my past experience tells me that it’s possible.
I like to complain that modern bikes aren’t as superior as the MTB press would have us believe. With a modern type single front chainring my Boardman just doesn’t have as low a gear as my old Whyte JW4 with it’s traditional triple chainset. Next time the Whyte will be my weapon of choice but I know this one will always be tough. 20 years ago I could expect to ride the section on the great majority of tries. Middle age has some advantages but steep hill climbing isn’t one of them! I won’t be giving up on this one. Success will be a massive triumph for me so I’ll keep trying.
Riding down from the 2 lads is a thrill. BIG drop-offs on a rocky and rutted trail are well worth the climb. Again I was keeping it safe but let the brakes off and got some intoxicating speed up a few times. At the bottom I was near the top of the Wilderswood downhill I rode on my last ride. I knew that if I rode it again I wouldn’t be able to resist throwing myself down it a as fast as I could but with the schools being on holiday there were likely to be more walkers than usual. I remembered the other excellent route in Wilderswood so chose that instead. It’s a totally different kind of ride with a lot of roots sticking out of the ground. You really need it to be dry so today was perfect and I’m glad I chose this fabulous segment.
Today I had enough time to take in Healey Nab on the way home. It’s a few miles of mixed road and off road riding to get up the hill. I rode along the side of the Anglezarke reservoir which cut across the course of my local river, the Yarrow. The river originally ran from the hills but when the reservoir was built the water drained to fill it. There is an overflow which would run into the Yarrow but that rarely happens. I suppose that the advantage is that the river shouldn’t burst it’s banks so easily.
Back over the Nab and I was starting to feel the effort I’d put in. The final downhill still had some wet patches but Strava told me I was fastest this year. Happy with that. I don’t want to let that crown slip so when it’s fully dry I’ll give it everything. You can ride the whole way without touching your brakes but it takes a lot of bottle. Who dares, wins.
Below are some pictures I took in our garden after the ride. Today I rode 16.63 miles with 1,904 feet of climbing.