Today started with drizzle. You wouldn’t really call it rain, it was more like mist but it did dampen the ground. I’d walked the dog early on, before it started, but it didn’t look like it would wet me so off I went for a mountain bike ride. After my last ride on my 2004 vintage Whyte JW4 I thought it would be good to do a trail ride on my 2016 Boardman FS Pro. I noticed last year how often I was riding my local hill, Healey Nab, and this year I seem to keep returning to Brinscall Woods. I’ve ridden the area for almost 30 years but this year I’ve explored the whole woodland and found some amazing trails which I was unaware of. I knew a few excellent descents so had been sticking to those and never looking for alternatives but now I think I’ve covered the area fully. One downhill in particular has drawn me back several times and it was today’s choice as well.
I took a mixed road and off road route to White Coppice which is not especially exciting but better than using the roads all the way. From White Coppice I took the technical trail to the woods. I had a wheel spin on the hardest part of all and ground to a halt. You really have to work on the bike over the rough, rocky and undulating ground. If you sit stiffly rocks will almost certainly stop you. By using my arms and legs I was keeping the pressure on the tyres much lighter. Pulling the bars whilst still pedalling helped to lift the front wheel over rocks and bumps keeping my progress as smooth as possible.
I reached the woods and climbed the fire road, resisting the temptation to take a much steeper climb, which is shorter but much tougher. I wasn’t feeling fresh and wondered if I was still recovering from my last ride. It was 3 days ago but I gave it 100% on a 22 minute climb and descent so it’s possible that I’m still feeling it. After that ride I’ve had a burst blood vessel in my left eye. Perhaps I sneezed at some point or could it have just been caused by my massive effort on the bike? I did what health professionals always warn against and Googled the condition so was confident that I didn’t need any treatment. It’s starting to clear up to some extent and I’m looking less like a vampire!
From the top of the fire road I joined the short tarmac section of Edge Gate Lane until it ends. I was then at the start of my full speed section from my last ride but took it a lot easier today. When I reached the top of my targeted downhill section I stopped in the gloom to take some pictures.
To the right is the gravel road by which I’d ascended. In front is a plant called cotton grass, which brightens up the moor at this time of year.
The gravel continues up to the top of Great Hill.
The downhill from here is very exciting. Starting with a variety of surfaces from gravel to rock and peaty single track. I was passed at this point by an electric mountain bike. I wasn’t envious and was enjoying the exercise without electric assistance.
I soon realised that I needed to be cautious since the damp surface wasn’t giving me nearly as much grip as I’ve become accustomed to. I slipped on a rock and had to do a full on emergency braking maneuver to avoid leaving the track. Over the stile into the woodland and I launched myself over the rocky hump which has often caught me out. This time I was over and along the top of the woods turning left down the best part of the trail. It starts with a fallen tree which I’d climbed over on my first few runs. Now I use the tree base on the right as a ramp and ride the 2 foot thick trunk. The trail was slippery today but still exciting. I chose to add in a short but steep climb to give me one more downhill segment. I’m not sure this was a good idea because it breaks the continuous flow of the very long downhill. On the final section I added 1 minute 17 seconds to my recent collection of times. I’ve recorded 1 minute 11, 12 ,13, 14 and now 17 seconds! I’ll hope to fill in the missing times later.
I rode back towards White Coppice along the easy side of the river and back home over Healey Nab for it’s superb downhill. I was getting a little bit cold towards the end as the damp evapourated from my clothes and was glad to be home. I’ll plan something different for my next ride in a couple of days time.