A great downhill treat.

Today my ride had only one purpose. To enjoy the long downhill sections of the second half. First I had to reach the high point above Brinscall Woods, where my current favourite downhill begins. It’s a mainly off road route but there’s little excitement to the ride. It was, however, nice to be out in the sunshine especially as we may be entering a wetter period in the next few days. The ascending route is good exercise but I’d told myself I shouldn’t get too tired on the ride since we have friends coming round this evening for the first time since the lockdown started at the end of March.

I reached White Coppice where the first real challenge starts. I took the technical eastern side of the river which has some tricky sections. On the hardest rocky hump I kept the pedals turning but was not paying enough regard to the the front wheel which jammed on a rock and brought me to a halt. I’ve been thinking that this kind of obstacle just needs hard pedalling but maybe I need to use a little more finesse. Later in the ride is another similarly hard rock strewn mound where I could check my technique. I climbed the gravel fire road of Brinscall Woods and continued on the woodland trail on a rooty climb which I got up non stop. The dirt road onto the moor has a lot of loose gravel this year but my mind was now turning to the fabulous downhill which follows. I stopped briefly at the start, having ridden for around half my total ride time, and another rider came from the direction of the top of Great Hill, dropping to the edge of the woods below then turning left. I was turning right at this point and stopped to take some photos.

The descent starts with a fast, twisty moorland track which is thrilling.
At this point, over the stile, the trail changes to woodland. Damper at the moment with an undulating section along the top edge of the woods.

Early on the next section is the difficult rocky hump where I ground to a halt last time, having succeeded on the previous similar part. This time I kept the pedals spinning but allowed the front wheel much more freedom to rise and fall over the rocks by keeping loose. There was much less jarring over the bumps so I was able to keep it going. After the undulating section I popped over a fallen tree where a rudimentary soil ramp has been piled up. Then onto my favourite part of all which is a twisty, narrow trail with a loam surface mixed with rocks, roots and some more fallen trees. Most of the way it’s feet on the pedals single track. Leaning the bike whilst keeping the upper body fairly upright. On some corners, though, I stick my inside foot out in case of slides, especially where the track is wider. I admit I entered some of these corners too fast just for the excitement of feeling the bike slide as it reaches the limit of grip. Such slides may scrub a little speed off but I didn’t care, I was in it for the thrill, not the fastest time. Some parts were quite muddy, hence a bit slower, but not muddy enough to detract from the best section I currently know. Perhaps next time it will be too wet and I’ll have a long wait into next spring before it’s worth riding again.

I rode back to White Coppice and over Healey Nab where the open trails are running very well. Before the trees were felled in March the trail would never have dried so well so I suppose that’s a small compensation for the loss of 2,500 larch trees. I sped along the dirt track at the bottom of the hill and suddenly remembered that I wasn’t supposed to be tiring myself today. Oops! I’d been enjoying myself too much for such trivial considerations.

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