In my last post I mentioned my obsession with speed, or more to the point riding trails quickly. I said I was surprised that so many riders don’t seem to bother trying to achieve a fast time even though they are tracking their ride with Strava which will leave the evidence for anyone to see. So yesterday I decided to do a trail ride where speed was unimportant, to see how I enjoyed it. There would, I thought, still be sections of the ride where I’d put some effort in to go quickly but it would be more about the whole ride, not just the short, exciting parts.
I recently rode up Darwen hill which involved climbing Roddlesworth woods and I knew from riding there many years ago that there was a large area to the north end of the woods that I hadn’t ridden for over 20 years! I set off from home and took a mixed road and off road route northwards. As soon as I was on the dirt I realised that the ground had not recovered from the 17 consecutive days where it had rained at some time. That’s the English summer for you. Having said that the sun was shining and there was only a small amount of cloud in the sky. I reached White Coppice and the technical section to Brinscall Woods. Now that I’ve ridden the trail without a foot down it’s easier. There is no longer a psychological barrier to stop me. I grazed a foot on the ground at one point but other than that I cleared it no problem. I followed the goit, a straightened river, to Brinscall then took a disused railway line to Abbey Village. I’ve never ridden this trail before. It’s flat and straight but picturesque. After world war 2 a lot of minor lines were closed as deliveries by road took over and the under used railways were costing a fortune to run. At Abbey Village the old station has been converted into a very nice house.
I crossed the main road and rode around the side of the reservoirs to a trail I used to use to climb Darwen hill. It was much as I remembered it, steep, muddy and covered in tree roots. I rejoined a gravel road for a while but turned off along an inviting piece of woodland single track. It was mainly a climb with a few dips and some stream crossings. Now I like to ride it if it’s rideable but have to admit that 2 or 3 parts got me thinking safety rather than bravado. It’s not as if I have to prove anything to riding buddies but I still feel a sense of inadequacy when I get off the bike. It’s obviously some kind of character flaw! At least I had the chance to talk to a lady who was walking a pack of dogs. They were of varying shapes and sizes and one looked much like my own dog, Freddie. He’s a rare tan Jack Russell and so was this little female so I had a chat with the lady whilst the little one barked incessantly. I felt right at home! Freddie barks for attention in just the same way. I carried on to the tarmac road which runs through Tockholes village and could see I was very close to Darwen hill. After working the day before I could feel the effort of the climb in my legs so I wasn’t tempted to do the final ascent. I’d thought about doing a downhill that I know from a little further along the top of the woodland but knew it was going to be seriously muddy so set off to return by the route I’d just climbed. Some fool had laid dozens of logs and branches across the trail. The mountain bike exists and can’t be uninvented so what’s the point in trying to stop us riding? He also needs to know that a 6 inch obstacle is no problem. I am a little worried that someone may be badly injured if they come around a corner to be confronted by a dangerous obstacle. This unacceptable behaviour has been going on for 30 years. I wonder if it’s always been the same sad individual?
The downhill was good. Rooty, twisty and wet. I’d like to have another try in better conditions. I reversed most of my route and failed on the hardest part of the part back to White Coppice. I could really feel the effort in my legs by this time but would have made the section with a bit more determination. I rode back over Healey Nab and took the red graded, man made downhill. I was right on the limit on some of the bermed corners so back to my old self!
18.56 miles with 1,283 feet of ascent. I clean forgot to take any pictures which must prove that it was a good ride where I felt very little urge to break any speed records. Maybe this will be a more typical ride in the future for an aging mountain biker? But I think I’ve got a few King of the Mountains left in me yet.
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