I believe the saying goes “Third time lucky, third time unlucky” and I’m hoping it’s true. You see, after almost three years without a puncture on the Boardman bike I’ve just had a third in quick succession and hope my minor steak of bad luck is at an end. This time I found the front tyre flat when I was checking the bike over before a ride so at least it was easy to fix. It’s far worse when you need to fix a puncture in a dingy wood, covered in mud. I’d thought about riding each of my bikes at some point before the ride but decided to be cautious by riding the Boardman, which is better protected against the mud. After September, which I believe is being described as record breaking in terms of rain, we are enjoying a day of mainly clear, blue sky’s. It has cooled down but that’s infinitely preferable to more rain. I could tell when I walked the dog that the trails would have dried up quite a lot with yesterday’s wind and today’s sun.
I fancied a trail ride around Rivington and found the roads completely dry on the way. The area has a Japanese style garden on the western side of Winter Hill and it’s smaller neighbour, the oddly shaped hump of Rivington Pike. Climbing up the gardens the surface is stony but generally hard packed so again there was little mud. At the top of the pike I took the pictures in this post. At the top is the view westwards over rural Lancashire and below that is a more northerly view with the moorland towards Great Hill, one of the area’s best MTB destinations. A stone slab path runs to Great Hill which was layed with the help of a helicopter! It’s bumpy on a bike but preferable to soggy peat and heather.
I remembered my last ride down from Rivington Pike, which frightened me because I rode over some big stone drop offs which were too much for me, the bike or both. I knew there was a grassier drop to the right so took that. I was still faced with some sizeable drop off and humps but it’s not as daunting on a softer looking surface. I had to keep an eye on two walkers and was worried about taking too much speed off. Big drop offs need bravery and commitment because if you go off the drop too slowly the bike can nose dive and send you over the bars. They were far enough away for me to pick up more speed, which is easy on such a steep slope, and I carried on to another tricky part. The ground has ruts like tramlines, lots of them, and you just have to get in one and hope you’ve made the right choice. I kept the speed down and have to admit I was more relieved than thrilled to get to the bottom where the surface returns to hard packed, very bumpy stone. A lady on a rather small looking pony asked if I wanted the gate left open. I’d rather be on a bike!
The next part, after a flatter, wide section was Wilderswood, once my very favourite downhill. I’ve had some good runs down there this year but could tell from the start that the surface had been washed by the heavy rain, which had scoured the grit and thin soil away, leaving loose stones. Around the first corner the rain rut was deep and I fought for control. The further I went down, the worse it seemed to get. I think I’ll need to wait until the spring to ride this again, it’s a hard fight to stay upright.
I returned to the visitors centre and back home by road. I’d have loved to go back over Healey Nab for an exciting finish but I’m working tomorrow so couldn’t afford to exhaust myself. I have a weekend away on my scooter coming up, with 9 others. We’re going to the English Lake District and staying in camping pods. They’re basically wooden huts but at least they have heaters. I’m sure I’ll spend plenty of time contemplating the mountain biking possibilities, especially as I won’t be able to ride until Monday.