Riding Rivington Pike.

After 2 rides of good training value I thought that I’d take it a little easier today on a longer trail ride with no targets. My purpose today was simply to enjoy the trail and get out in the environment on a pleasant enough day. The weather was very still and quite misty as I climbed, with a temperature of around 11C. I began the ride with a road section of 5 miles. It involved quite a few climbs and descents, gaining 420 feet in height. I then began the shorter, steeper, off road climb to Rivington Pike. This section climbs fairly continuously, adding another 478 feet. The crowds of walkers were something which I wouldn’t have expected 12 months ago but after 8 months of restrictions due to Covid 19 and with so many shops currently closed, walking in the country has become massively popular. This is a good thing. Enjoying the countryside is good for both the physical and mental health so I’ll have to keep reminding myself of this as I grumble about the loss of empty trails. There always were plenty of walkers in the Rivington area, with it’s extensive country park, but now there are many more. My best plan of action in future will be to ride early mornings and mid week.

I noticed as I climbed up the terraced gardens, on a gravel, grit and rock surface, just how well the 29″ wheels of the Trek mountain bike handle the situation. The ride is a little smoother than on 27.5″ wheels and in a different league to old school 26″ wheels. I had noticed, though, that the Trek bobs the suspension more than any of my other bikes on steep climbs. The small amount of energy to bob the suspension up and down is turned into heat in the springs and dampers, when it would better be employed propelling the bike forwards. Off road, though, I feel that this criticism is more than compensated for by a smoother ride over rough surfaces.

On this kind of terrain the bigger wheels win.
Walkers in the mist.

I climbed the rest of the way to the summit at 1,190 feet and the crowds of walkers continued so I quickly turned around the former shooting lodge and started down. I took a safe option rather than the steep, rutted alternative with it’s sizeable drop offs. Bravado may insist that I keep riding that particular trail but good sense, if allowed to win, should mean that I’ve ridden it for the last time. There’s plenty of good riding in our area where the risks are far lower. I rode along to Wilderswood for a real highlight. This downhill was my absolute favourite for several years in the late 1990s. I still love it but don’t pursue the fastest time as I did back then . The approach to the first corners is rougher than it used to be but this doesn’t inhibit the speed. A series of 3 corners has become quite rutted but the deep ruts could be used as bankings to up the speed without sliding. I’d need to get some practice in, repeating the segment, to maximise my performance. The surface threw everything at me as I twisted and turned down the trail. The drop takes over 2 minutes of full commitment and was the best part of my ride.

I continued along an entertaining trail and noticed some rattling from the rear of the bike. After ignoring it for a short distance I looked down to see that the rear axle had become loose. I stopped to find that it had unscrewed by a couple of turn. It wasn’t ready to fall out but I’m glad I caught it in time. I continued, mainly off road, including some quite long climbs to the top of Healey Nab. I enjoyed the red graded downhill but was slightly held up by a young lad further down. I ‘d bet that in a few years he wouldn’t be holding me up. He was smooth and consistent, the best way to be.

I completed my descent on an open field where there was no grip whatsoever. The bike just slithered it’s own way and I held on. Strava tells me that I covered 16.42 miles with 1,615 feet of climbing. What did surprise me was the large number of segments where I rode my first, second or third fastest times ever, especially considering that I’d committed to taking it easier today. At the end of the ride I still felt fresh and could have maintained the pace for much longer.

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