My last 2 rides have been quite intense. 5 days ago I rode 5 continuous, high speed laps of Healey Nab which took me 57 minutes and 48 seconds. 3 days ago I rode 30 minutes up the canal bank, which may seem easy in itself, but I then made sure I got back in less than 30 minutes regardless of headwinds. Today I thought I’d ride the twisty trails at Birkacre, which is a small but entertaining area, followed by the equally small Coppull Mill area. I thought I may then go on to what was once Chisnall Hall colliery, which has been left as farmland and woodland since coal mining stopped in 1967. I haven’t been to Coppull Mill for some time. The last time I was there, there had been some deliberate attempts to block the trail by cutting trees with an axe, leaving them lying still partly attached to the stump and very hard to move. As a precaution I packed a Bahco Laplander folding saw, an amazing little thing with a 7 inch blade which can cope with sizable timbers.
I climbed up a steep section in Duxbury woods early in the ride and found the wet leaves were energy sapping. I remained sat down to keep my weight over the rear wheel for better traction and got up without having to stop. Soon after comes a fast downhill with only 3 corners but each one was seriously slippery. I ran wide on the first corner and slid on the third. At Birkacre I rode a favourite 3 corner segment several times, nervously at first but picking up speed on subsequent tries. This is a useful way to get better at cornering, by repeating short sections until you get them right. If you only ride once then move on you’ll learn little or nothing about how to get it better. Ride, slide, repeat might be a good mantra. I rode a man made jump section cautiously. I broke a collar bone and a couple of ribs here in early 2016 by repeating and trying to increase my speed. Falling off on most corners means a slide in the dirt and maybe a bit of gravel rash. Falling on a jump is a far more serious matter and since that particular crash I’ve definitely become much more safety conscious. I had to sleep in an arm chair for around a week, unable to stand the pain of lying down! What is it they say? “There’s no fool like an old fool”.
Up to Coppull and I found the first tree, which had been across the trail, was still there. It’s way too big to move it on my own but I could have cut 3 large branches from it, to leave the trunk which I could have moved. My hope is that someone will bring a shovel and build a jump over the trunk, which will enhance the trail. If this doesn’t happen by the spring I’ll take action with the saw. I don’t want to lose this short trail, it’s exquisite and I couldn’t stand to let a selfish trail vandal win. Later I cut a good gap in the second low hanging bush which had never really stopped my progress but is far better now.
The branch lying sideways near the top had several small branches hanging down, but not any longer.
I’d been out for a while so decided not to carry on to Chisnall Hall, instead returning via Birkacre for a final, exciting downhill. I was happy to get a nice little ride in before the rain, which we’re told to expect for the rest of the week. Apparently we’re having, or have had depending on your definition of autumn, a record breaking season for rainfall and I could certainly feel it on today’s very slippery trails.