Exploring a new hill.

Today I rode to my nearest hill, Healey nab. So what made it a new hill to explore? The felling of 2,500 larch trees and massive damage by the tree felling equipment left little available to ride but in just a month trails are now emerging which I’ve ridden a number of times. Today I thought I’d ride 5 laps of the hill but explore as many of the rideable trails as I could. The weather has continued to be sunny and the trails are baked hard and dusty. I climbed the steep, grassy route to the woodland and began my first lap up to the trail head. I thought I’d have a go at a lap of the Top  Loop, as it’s called, which is a gentle but twisty descent and gentle climb. Last year I’d set the second fastest time ever at 1 minute 30 seconds. Today I knew I still had four and a half laps to ride so I didn’t give it everything but managed 1 minute 47 seconds, which I was more than happy with. The surface on the downhill is dusty and covered in debris so I think it would be hard to match my time from last year anyway and it’s good to know that I’m the only rider to get under 2 minutes this year, so far.

I continued on the main downhill but followed the black graded trail on the left side of the slope. It has tight berms on a steeper gradient than the red route but is not as long. I made sure I remembered to lean the bike, not my upper body, into the turns. This keeps you sort of centred on the bike and it’s much easier to keep it on line. If I started to run wide I could just push the handlebars down into the turn and keep going where I wanted to. I rejoined the red trail for the series of jumps and along the bottom section noticed that a new link as been added to join 2 parts which were separated by an unresolved part, which I’d been cutting across on my previous visits. I’d better keep it a secret that my way is quicker! I climbed back to the trail head but used a very steep climb which has never been part of the trail system. It runs under deciduous trees and was not damaged by the felling of the larches but it’s a good bit of training, needing 100% effort and concentration just to get up. Back to the top and down to the back gate and I chose to do a a full, fast lap of the segment I recently set up on Strava. I called it New gate, red , gate 2020 and will only consider times set since the tree felling since the trail didn’t exist in it’s present form, though Strava doesn’t know this and has included rides from last year in the results. Some faster times are at the top of the all time list which represent similar laps but can’t possibly be exactly the same. I can’t help but work hard at a lap where I’m going to consider the time it took me, afterwards. I managed 10 minutes exactly compared to my best of 9 minutes 49 seconds. It’s a good lap. The new main downhill trail is flowing and exciting. The dusty, dirty surface could send you into a slide at any time and keeps your concentration at the maximum. I’m a little concerned that the new climb will be very slippery in wet weather but currently it’s fast and steep. On my next lap I stopped to take some pictures of the new, emerging trails.

The bike stayed in the same position but the camera moved to show trails in all directions about half way down the hill.

I rode to the top for the fourth time, ignoring the top loop and rode another version of the black trails. The route I saw being worked on last Sunday is still very loose and unfinished. It will be good to see how it rides when it has a compact surface. For my final climb I tried to follow the old red graded climb and realised that it would not be impossible to fashion a new way utilising some of the old trails. All that’s required is a shovel, a rake and plenty of sweat. Maybe I should volunteer, since many of the usual digging crew only seem to want to ride the black graded downhills. I rode home via the same trail by which I arrived. Although I’d enjoyed the climb there’s nothing like a fast, open downhill to finish.

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