This morning I walked my dog, Freddie, and on the way home I saw a somewhat older gentleman who walks and runs whilst keeping a hula hoop continually twirling around his waist. I thought for a brief moment that I could acquire a hula hoop and try to do the same. Then I saw sense and decided on a mountain bike ride.
With my wife at home I could afford to be out for a little longer, knowing that Freddie wouldn’t be alone so I chose to ride to Dean Mills reservoir, high on the moors. I rode beyond the reservoir, to the Egg Hillock, earlier in the year when the ground was dry but was unsure how the trails would be today. I emptied around 5 inches of rain water from some buckets in the garden this morning, which is an awful lot of rain to have accumulated in just a few days. I took a road route of 4 miles to Rivington Village in the area which is considered a real mountain bike Mecca. I then had over 10 miles of off road trail ahead of me where I’d climb to around 1,500 feet on Winter Hill. There were a lot of walkers as soon as I started on the trails, enjoying what could be one of the last fairly warm and sunny days of the autumn, if you consider 15 celcius to be warm. I’d already climbed on the road and now needed to accept that I’d have little other than climbing to occupy me for the next 50 minutes. There are some uneventful downhill sections which I’d avoid if I could so I didn’t lose any height and fortunately there are some technical parts which require a some skill and determination to get up without walking. I could have ridden the very hard way via Crooked Edge which I rode earlier in the year. I’d set it as a target last year but after several attempts I accepted that I couldn’t do it any more. This year my fitness has definitely improved so I was delighted to make it all the way up. I thought it would be too muddy today so used Wilders Moor which had one really hard part which I got up non stop.
Riding up the access road to the TV transmitters I was overtaken by 2 Ebikes with their whirring electric motors. I turned off to the right at the transmitter to ride the long Smithills Moor downhill. It’s a fast decent and this was assisted today by a tailwind which had been against me on the climb. I knew the importance of keeping both wheels in the same groove on the badly rutted and slippery surface. At speed I failed in this mission and the bike swung wildly as the front wheel went right and the rear left. I expected to hit the ground but fought it back into control, resolving to be more careful for the rest of the drop. I crossed a small but steep valley over a stream and started the climb to my objective. It never fails to surprise me when the reservoir burst into view.
To the east I could see the hills north of Bury where I rode the Mary Towneley Loop in September. Having had a tyre split with only one hill left to climb I can’t stop thinking about the ride and have already decided to try again next year. From the opposite end of the water a good, twisty downhill begins. It was slippery but good fun, ending on a small segment of tarmac. Then it’s back to climbing but I changed my planned route which made the climb back to Wilders Moor a little easier. The way back down the trail I’d climbed earlier was exciting and I was careful to ensure the ruts didn’t catch me out. Next came the downhill which was my very favourite in the late 1990s. It runs down the side of Wilderswood and I used to try to maximise my speed. The gradient is never especially steep but there’s plenty of speed available on the twisting trail with it’s ever changing surface of rocks, grit, gravel and mud. I rode back to Rivington on trail then back home by road, reversing my outward journey. I’d ridden 18.78 miles in 2 hours and 14 minutes, climbing 2,042 feet of ascent. I enjoyed riding somewhere different today and think I should ride this area more often.