Due to the trail conditions, a mixture of ice, snow and sticky mud, my riding has been a little limited recently. I decided to improve the situation yesterday, by planning a trail ride for today suited to dry conditions and pretending it was summer.
Yesterday was dry and windy whilst last night we had a hard frost. This morning I set off with the temperature still around zero and found the ground was desiccated as if the sun had been beating down on it. The patches of deeper mud were mainly frozen so I was slithering over the top rather than sinking in. I used an almost all off road route to White Coppice, even riding alongside the reservoirs north of town, which have been unrideable since the autumn. The hard ground was good and at the village I had the choice to ride along the Goit, a straightened river, or use the undulating technical trail at the opposite side. I chose the easier option and was soon climbing Brinscal Woods towards my first, long downhill. I pieced a route together in the spring of last year which soon became my favourite downhill. It twists and turns from the top of the woodland down to the Goit, falling 290 feet. First, though, I used another, shorter downhill, which was good fun on the firmly frozen ground. I missed the turn to the bigger descent because I’m not used to approaching it from this direction so rode along to the far end of the woods before turning round, riding back and starting the best of trails.
The crisp trail was very much like it had been last summer but now I was sliding on ice instead of dust. I was reminded, as if I needed reminding, of why we do this. Why we spend money on bikes which we abuse so scandalously. Why we splatter ourselves in cold mud which wears out components. All that existed for several minutes was the sinuous trail under my wheels. Further down there was deeper mud which squelched and splattered but it took nothing away from the experience. If the frozen conditions persist until Tuesday I’ll ride right to the top of Great Hill and ride the longest drop in the area which took me 13 minutes and 38 seconds in the peak of last summer. On that occasion I beat my previous best by a single second!
I rode back along the Goit to White Coppice and continued to then climb the back of Healey Nab for another superb downhill on the purpose built trails. I made sure I gave my technique some thought as I dropped to reinforce my last ride. It was a fabulous ride for this time of year. If it hadn’t been for the drying effects of the wind yesterday and last night’s frost it would have been a very different proposition.