Dry weather riding.

It’s been great to have some dry weather after a very wet period early in June. We haven’t been getting the very hot conditions that have been causing problems and breaking records in Europe, though I think that the global warming agenda has caused the news reports to be over emphasized. There was little mention of the fact that the UK summer has been cooler than normal after a hot Easter. Today the temperature has been 17 C. Too cold for sunbathing and several degrees below the July average but perfect for mountain biking!

I fancied a trail ride rather than going for a target and remembered the ride I did recently to Roddlesworth woods. The conditions were wet then but would surely be drier today. I’d found a segment from the app. Strava called “Better then the bone shaker” and rode it once last time. Today I wanted to have a practice run before a second, fast descent.  It’s quite a few miles to Roddlesworth, over 8 miles, in fact, and I used a very familiar route utilising as much off road as possible. It took me via the reservoirs north of Chorley to White Coppice where I could have another go at the technical and difficult section to Brinscall woods. I noticed from the start how much easier a technical section is on the modern Boardman FS Pro I was riding than it had been last time on my much loved 15 year  old Whyte PRST4. It took plenty of determination and unwillingness to give up but I made it without stopping or putting a foot down. I took an easy, flat trail to Brinscall village and after a steep road climb, a fast gravel descent. Crossing the tarmac road a narrow farm track turns to gravel and took me up to the start of the downhill.

On the first descent I was learning the twisty single track trail as well as I could. I was still putting some effort in and left the trail several times as I misjudged the turns, struggling across broken ground to rejoin the ribbon of rooty dirt. I looked ahead later on to see a big area of deep, wet mud stretching right across the trail. There was no way round it and when I hit it my wheels sank quickly, almost throwing me over the bars. I’d just about got through it and pedalled back up to speed. I knew I’d be facing the same on the next run and thought I’d just have to hit it quickly enough with my weight pushed backwards in the hope that the momentum would carry me through. I wasn’t sure where the end point of the segment was so carried on over a stream crossing. In fact the segment finishes before a steep drop to the gravel road know for good reason as the Bone Shaker. It’s actually been resurfaced a couple of years ago so isn’t nearly as challenging a ride up or down as it previously was. I climbed back to the top.

On my second run I set off quickly past the start but soon had forgotten which way the trail turned and ran way off again. I returned to the start to correct my mistake. The route is fast with quick turns and lots of protruding tree roots. It really needs to be dry for safety as well as speed so apart from the one short section today was perfect. My first try had taken 2 minutes 1 second and would have been joint 29th fastest out of 226 riders. My second took a much improved 1 minute 38 seconds and got me 10th fastest for which I was awarded a small trophy icon for being in the top 10! To be  King of the Mountains, the fastest ever, I’d need to take 17 seconds off my time, which would be very hard.

I rode back by reversing my route out. The only change I made was when I took a downhill into Brinscall village. I had remembered it having a very rocky last part and it still does. The difference today was that on a modern bike with much longer travel suspension it was much easier, aided also by the dryness of the ground. I arrived at the start of the technical section to White Coppice and despite the odd hiccup I again made it without a foot down. I’ve overcome the psychological barrier that seemed to be preventing me before. I now believe that I can do it and today did it in both directions.

I wanted to go back over Healey Nab to see what work had been done on the jumps at the weekend. Some reprofiling of the slopes has you getting aloft more easily. I’d hate to seem like a spoil sport but I am a little concerned that with no easier, blue graded run, less experienced riders might have problems on this trail. It’s easy enough if you go slowly but who wants to do that? On the open field I took the first steep drop at full speed only to see 2 dog walkers where the ground rises again. I was easily able to slow down to a crawl in time but sensed a prickly disapproval in the atmosphere. Time to be a man about it, dip my head, not make eye contact and get out of there!

In 2 hours 12 minutes of riding I covered 18.24 miles and climbed 1,550 feet of ascent.

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