Looking to the future.

Having tried to achieve the 2 mountain biking targets which I’d set myself in January this year I just about made one, the climb to the top of Great Hill and back in less than 22 minutes 19 seconds. I achieved exactly that time according to the app. Strava but consider I succeeded because my stopwatch time was around 6 seconds under the target. The other was the massive ride of the Mary Towneley Loop which I was disappointed to fall short of due to a split rear tyre, just last Sunday. The future now awaits but I don’t think my wife, Ali, would take me back to East Lancashire to try the MTL again so I needed to think of an alternative.

I did a small recovery ride on Tuesday with no ill effects so decided to do something more ambitious today (Friday). I’ve found and enjoyed a fabulous downhill from the top of Great Hill this year but it really needs dry conditions. Fortunately we’ve had virtually no rain for almost a fortnight so now was the time to try the route again. I climbed the hill to the summit at around 1,250 feet and felt like I had plenty of energy. I seemed to recover from over 7 hours of hard riding very quickly, which has surprised me, and don’t believe I have any leftover effects after only 5 days. The climb went well and I found the ground with only the occasional muddy patch. In clear skies I reached the summit and studied the view. I’d thought of an idea a couple of days ago but a map only reveals so much. Looking at the scene from Great Hill it looks as if there are several other hills which could make a really big circuit and I could ride it from home! Am I being stupid to plan something which, whilst I don’t think there would be as much climbing as the MTL, would probably cover even more miles?

Winter Hill would be first.
Darwen Hill is linked by off road trails, via Great Hill where the photo was taken..
Much further to the north and hiding in the haze are Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.

I had my picture taken by a walker in reciprocation for me having taken his groups picture. Unfortunately he failed to accomplish the task so I have no evidence to present. I then set off on the wonderful downhill. It was running very quickly from the start with a slight tail wind. There was so much speed I could barely believe it. Later, in the woodland I found that falling leaves were already obscuring the trail. I hoped to descend in under 15 minutes, my best being 13 minutes 48 seconds but had to stop the watch several times and retrace my wheel tracks to correct my course. My time was only really an estimate, my Strava time being 15 minutes 38 seconds. I managed 15 minutes and 1 second on the stopwatch and continued to the ride over Healey Nab. I chatted to a guy as we climbed to the top. He was generally a road rider but had a Boardman bike rather like my own. He said that on his only other visit to Healey Nab he hadn’t found any good trails so I guided him to the top. We compared the weight of our bikes, his being a cheaper option. We were both very surprised at just how much lighter my bike was, especially due to it’s Rockshox Pike fork where his had a lower spec Rockshox fork. The frames were identical. We rode down the hill and he was impressed with the trails.

I’ll be poring over the map and the amazing resource of Google Earth to make a plan for a new, very long ride over the hills which I can access from home. I think I’ve really benefitted in terms of fitness this year by having a big target so it would be good to maintain this fitness by having a target for next year.

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