Summer rain.

Looking on the bright side rain in summer gives us some different ground conditions to try! We’ve had rather a lot of rain since my last ride so I expected that it would be muddy today and this was confirmed when I walked the dog. At first I thought that I could ride to Birkacre where there are lots of excellent corners, which are good whether the ground is wet or dry. I decided, though, to ride towards Rivington and the flanks of our highest hill, Winter Hill, for a ride with more climbing and distance. It takes about 15 minutes by road to reach the tiny village of Rivington after which it’s all off road until the return to Chorley.

After a gentle start to the climb you can get fairly high by using various route up the terraced gardens which were laid out in a Japanese style in the nineteenth century. I took a different choice today by heading south on a wide and rocky road to a much more challenging climb up Wilderswood. The best justification for doing this is because the downhill on the same trail is fabulous. It was certainly my favourite downhill anywhere in the late 1990s but I found myself taking too many risks and putting others in danger by my extreme riding. It had to stop and since then I’ve always ridden the track with a certain amount of caution. Part of this downhill was used for the cross country mountain biking event in the 2002 Commonwealth games. The Commonwealth is a group of 54 nations brought together in friendship. Most were part of the British Empire in the past and outsiders might wonder why we have an Olympic Games type of event every 4 years. The truth is that 2 out of 3 Olympic medals are won by competitors representing Commonwealth nations. This means that the standards are higher than those of any of the continental championships, such as the Europeans. I took my then 1 year old son, Dylan, to watch the racing in a child seat on the back of a bike. I knew the area well so was able to pick a good spot to spectate, under the cover of the trees on a very hot day. Dylan learned to applaud! He saw people slapping their hands together when riders came past and must have thought that it looked like a good idea.

Today some of the twisting, rocky trail was like a river and my rear wheel spun, bringing me to a halt. It was a worthwhile climb for the exercise and I rested at the top for a short while.

The top of my former favourite downhill. Nothing to get excited about, until you set off!

The first few corners come after a rough descending straight with a few drop offs, where you fall a short distance in free fall. The corners have become very rutted over the years, possibly as a result of mountain biking becoming so much more popular. Using the ruts as bankings might allow me to go faster than I could more than 20 years ago but I’d need to practice the correct line plenty of times to achieve my best. The action continues with a mixture of just about every type of surface, mud, roots, gravel and rocks. I was rather cautious in the slippery conditions and got soaked by riding down a newly created river!

I decided to ride back home by road rather my initial idea to go along the side of the Anglezarke reservoir and over Healay Nab. Despite this I still covered 14.57miles, climbing 1,395 feet. I enjoyed my rainy ride but look forwards to some warmer and drier riding later this week.

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