A better ride.

The weather has been warming to a heady 7 celcius over the last few days, thawing any remaining ice and snow. A warm front has passed over giving rain but today was dry in it’s wake. Dry is not something which could be said of the ground but mud would be preferable to the ice of my last few rides. Healey Nab was my destination with the intention to ride 3 laps of the trail around the hill. I decided to ride a slightly longer route to reach the summit which started with a little over 2 miles on the road.

The first off road section is an ascending gravel farm track followed by a steep and rocky trail to the woodland which crowns the hill. I’d started off feeling a little tired but by this point had warmed up and was ready for the purpose built MTB trails. Before my first lap I stopped at the highest point just to the south of the trail head and took some pictures.

Looking south westwards towards Harrock Hill which was a riding spot in my youth in the 1970s.
A lonesome and ragged holy bush with the cairn at 680 feet behind.

The red graded descent was slippery but still entertaining. Recent work has left patches of gravel which are not compacting into the surface. It looks to me like the wrong type of material which doesn’t have enough fine grit to form a good surface. I was feeling some small slides even at a modest pace. I think it will need to be improved for drier weather and trail conditions to help the flow of the descent. Still, at least we have a circuit which proved completely rideable in these conditions and I was soon back to the top. There were a few small groups of other riders on the hill but I didn’t stop at the top. I rode the top loop and carried on down the descent for a second time. Another climb, top loop and a third descent followed and I was loving it. The snow and ice were an interesting interlude but it’s good to be back to good old English mud. I realised that I hadn’t thought about technique on my first 2 laps so on lap 3 I made sure I was using the correct body position with some weight applied to the handlebars. I leant the bike over on the corners whilst keeping my body fairly upright. It’s good to keep reminding myself of the right methods for when the trails improve and I want to ride more quickly.

I used the open field back down the hill and it was deep in mud so I washed the majority off by dipping the bike into Black Brook. It meant taking less mud home and made the subsequent clean up easier. It was the best ride of my year so far but there’s plenty of time for more mountain bike adventures.

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