…….and cows! Today was a good day to try for a sub 11 minute lap of Healey Nab red graded trail. I’ve mentioned often that this is one of my targets for the year and I’ve had a few goes at it with a best time on Strava of 11 minutes 8 seconds, though my stopwatch said 11 minutes dead. I’d had a light breakfast and 2 hours later was ready to go. The weather was sunny and still. I may rarely have a better chance.
I rode to the north end of the hill and climbed to the woodland, with it’s purpose built trails. My weapon of choice was my 15 year old Whyte PRST4, a fast trail/cross country full suspension bike with it’s unique linkage front suspension. I’d been a bit worried by the poor back brake so last night I cleaned it with aerosol brake cleaner having sand papered the pads. It still wasn’t perfect but this morning I found some new pads and fitted them. I inflated the tyres to unfashionably high pressures of 42 psi, rear, for low drag and 36 psi, front for grip. I went through the gate into the woodland and saw a herd of dairy cows walking down towards me! They must have got through an open gate but definitely shouldn’t have been there. I waited whilst the bulk of them walked close by and headed south. I hoped they would leave the trails by the time I reached the top but noticed more walking down the climb. After they’d dispersed I rode up but saw more coming towards the trail head. There must have been around 30 in total. I descended to the start point of my lap and set off at speed. After the first climb I turned towards the trail head only to be confronted by 4 or 5 lumbering beasts which turned round and skipped away. It was obvious a fast lap was going to be impossible and rather risky so I changed my plan completely.
When you have a number of targets you want to achieve, you have to take them on sooner or later and today I couldn’t do this one. If I hadn’t been chasing a goal I’d already thought that a ride to Brinscall woods would be good in the almost bone dry conditions, so that’s where I went.
I rode down the gravel road at the back. To stop the rain water running straight down and making channels a number of diagonal humps have been made on the gravel surface. They were surely planned by a mountain biker because they make excellent jumps! I slowed on the last one for a walker. After a short stretch of tarmac it was dirt all the way to Brinscall woods with the excellent technical section which was another of my targets and has been achieved. Today I had a foot down and noticed just how much harder it is to ride this trail on the Whyte than it I saw on my modern Boardman. Modern bikes tend to be considerably longer to prevent you being thrown over the handlebars, which happened later when I hit an innocuous looking rock. A bit of bark lost from the elbow is nothing. I won’t mention it to my wife and see if she notices!
I climbed the gravel road up the woods. The picture above is the very similar Whyte JW4 on a previous ride. I found later that my climb up the woods on the Whyte was the fastest I’ve recorded on Strava, proving that it’s every bit as good as I keep saying! Up onto the moor and I passed someone collecting bilberries, which are rather like small, wild blueberries. After the climb I was rewarded with a fantastic, long downhill. It starts as rough singletrack through heather and coarse grass. Over a stile into the woods and it’s an ever changing mixture of roots, rocks, drops and loam. The Whyte again made it harder but the sensation of speed is definitely greater on the older bike. I had my feet down a couple of times on the return to White coppice.
I rode back over Healey Nab and the cows had gone. I was now for too tired to try a fast lap, it will have to wait. I rode for almost 2 hours, today. It was nothing like my planned ride but a good one anyway.