Suprised. Shocked, even.

It’s Easter Sunday and almost too hot to sit in the sun. something we’re not used to in northern England, especially not as early in the year as this. What suprised me next was that when I said “We can’t just sit around all day” to my wife, she said “I suppose you want to go out on your bike.” I didn’t need to hear it twice but I had no plan. A ride with no plan may rarely go well so I tried to concoct an idea. With the hot sun the best option was always going to be somewhere wooded. Healey Nab, then.

I thought I’d add an extra challenge from the start and climb the hill by possibly the steepest route. It climbs a field full of sheep then over a stile into the woods. It’s savagely steep and you could really use a very low gear, which is not a feature of most modern bikes. I would not be defeated and gave it everything to get up something that has beaten me for a long time. I hauled myself over the roots and ground hard up the loamy surface. I made it. Up to another stile and I kept the pace up. I remembered that there is a Strava segment up this way but wasn’t sure I was following the correct path.

On top I did a lap of the “top loop” back to the trail head where I collected my thoughts. I started on the red route but stopped to take some pictures. This is a fabulous right/left/right combination. Fast and loose. It could all go wrong!


I continued but took the left fork on to the black route to ride a new and yet to be fully finished section. It has steep berms and big jumps for a roller coaster ride. A climb back to the trail head takes around 12 minutes and I kept the pace up. I wasn’t sure what to do next but thought that in the bone dry conditions I could have a go at a fast lap of the top loop. I wasn’t too sure how I’d done and wouldn’t find out for some time. Back at home later I found my time was 3rd fastest ever! A nice suprise and only 1 second behind second place. After that I thought I’d just do a red route descent then go home but half way down I happened upon the maintenace crew. They work hard to keep the trails in good condition so I felt honour bound to help for a while, I lugged some large rocks across for a new feature they were working on and chatted for a while. Then I rode down to the “Froome Street downhill” which I rode 2 days ago in a 3rd fastest time ever. I didn’t know what was going to happen next but the metaphorical chequered flag dropped and I gave it some stick. I kept to the left just before the first steep drop and I could feel that the speed never dropped. After the corner I seemed to leave Mother Earth for about 2 seconds, which is a long time in a low earth orbit! I kept on working at it to the bottom and rode casually home.

I downloaded my ride on Strava and could see a “King of the Mountains” symbol. I’d done it! But wait a minute. There was no mention of Froome Street. My new royal title was for somewhere else!

It was for the first savage climb to the trail head. The “Higher House Lane climb”. 14 minutes 20 seconds which was 3 seconds quicker than the vanquished former monarch. Strava had no record that I’d even ridden down towards Froome Street, I’ve no idea why. Still a crown is a crown and at my age I’ll accept anything that glitters.

I started with no expectation but due to a readily available athletics app. I’m buzzing with excitement. My son is home for the weekend and has already advised me to stop going on about it. That’s dads for you.


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