How did all the mud get here?

I had a plan for today’s ride but I just hadn’t expected the ground to be so muddy. We have not had much rain this week, as far as I recall, but last night at bedtime we did get a short, heavy shower. This morning the weather was good with a mixture of sunshine and shadows so I thought that Brinscall Woods would be a good destination. This year I’ve pieced together a fabulous mountain bike downhill from the many trails which criss-cross the area. In fact it’s become my current favourite route and I’ve ridden it many times during the last 8 months.

I took an early off road section which was about the same as the last time I used it. After that I avoided the side of the reservoirs because that way suffers badly from wet conditions and realised that I didn’t need to loop back to White Coppice but instead took a gravel road straight to the bottom corner of the woodland. A lot of leaves have fallen on the gravel climb so it required some effort but I was riding the rain rutted gravel onto the moors soon enough. This is followed by a moorland single track descent of real quality. I crossed the puddles which form at the top and found that the ground is firm rather than muddy and soft. I stopped to take a picture.

Riding through the 6 inch deep puddles is surprisingly easy. You just have to trust that you won’t sink.
I thought after the remaining puddles things would dry up.

After the puddles, which had firm ground, the single track trail was very slimey. I had little control over my front wheel and just hung on trusting to luck. I had only intended to ride this part once but was worried that the woodland descent, which I wanted to ride twice in succession, might be too wet to enjoy. I rode the undulating top edge of the woods and it wasn’t too bad. Riding over the fallen tree trunk before the start and I was hopeful but unfortunately the mud was just too much. There was so little grip that I was slithering uncontrollably round the turns rather than digging the wheels in and railing them. I realised that a second climb and descent would be pointless at this time. It’s interesting to see that, despite the conditions, this excellent trail is still being used as witnessed by the tyre tracks. At the bottom of the woods I rode alongside the river to White Coppice and back over Healey Nab. The manmade downhill trails are quite well drained and the descent was the highlight of the ride. On the open field which follows it was back to sodden conditions.

Today highlighted that I need to pick my rides with winter conditions in mind unless we get a dry period. Frost often seems to dry the surface in winter so I’ll keep an eagle eye on the weather from now on.

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