Safety first?

I enjoyed my last ride to the top of Great Hill. I climbed around 1,500 feet and loved the downhill, which lasted for over 15 minutes. I would have liked to do the same ride today but it snowed overnight so I thought about the potential dangers of riding an exposed area of high ground, with a fairly stiff breeze and probably more snow. A cautionary tale featured on the news this morning. 2 totally unrelated people had travelled from different towns to meet in the Lake District. Whilst camping overnight one developed chest pains so they called for Mountain Rescue to assist. Unfortunately one volunteer fell and was badly injured. This was all during a lockdown when you’re only supposed to leave home for a limited range of essential purposes. Fortunately mountain biking from home is an allowable activity but it seemed prudent to do a less ambitious ride. With some snow left on the trails I didn’t think that repeating laps would be much fun in slippery conditions, so I thought of a trail ride.

When I walked the dog I’d found that the ground was barely frozen so I didn’t want to go anywhere that would be too deep in mud. First I rode to Duxbury Hall which takes in some woodland. This was firm enough but after crossing an section of wet grass, which was hard going, I climbed gently through another piece of woodland which was exhausting at a slow pace. Some trees have fallen across the trail which were too big to ride over. I crossed a short stretch at the side of the golf course, which currently is closed due to Covid. Normally it wouldn’t be a good idea to do this with golf in play but this was a virtually unique opportunity. After a short road ride I crossed a gravel road which was damp, keeping the speed down and being a little tedious. There was only one thing to do, to up the pace and get the endorphins flowing. A little more tarmac and I was climbing the steep road to ‘all o’ th’ill, pronounced “or lot thill” but meaning “The Hall on the Hill”! This kind of dialect is dying out with the younger generation. Most young people, as far as I know, don’t speak in the Lancashire dialect of old. My son, Dylan, can speak in dialect but never would in normal conversation. Many of my scooter riding friends have much more traditional accents and we certainly communicate in a dialect on Facebook. Maybe all hope is not yet gone.

The hall is another golfers clubhouse and is followed by a rough dirt road descent. The raised part between tyre ruts was snow covered and treacherous so I kept it in the ruts, enjoying the increased speed. I dipped and climbed the valley of the river Yarrow and ascended the gravel road to the top of Healey Nab at 682 feet. The sunshine and wind had left little snow but what struck me most was the feeling that the ride had involved a lot of climbing with little in the way of descent. This was remedied to some extent with the purpose built MTB trail back down to Chorley. I’ve looked at Strava, though, and found it to be true that I climbed, in the main, for over 7 miles, then descended for less than 4. Less than a mile of this was off road. No wonder it seemed like a lot of work for very little play!

The high point was Healey Nab with so little off road downhill to follow.

I stopped at the top to take some pictures with very little snow left, even on the higher hills.

Winter Hill rises to 1,498 feet.

The descent had some snow but the bermed corners were safe enough. Further down, under the trees, I was surprised to find the trail frozen hard. I used the dirt road at the north end of the hill because I expected the open drop to the west to be a swamp.

It was good to get out and I put enough effort in all the way round to make it worthwhile exercise, with over 900 feet of climbing, but I’ll have to remember that this is not the most exciting route. I’d climbed for over an hour for a few minutes of excitement. I can do better than that.

One thought on “Safety first?

  1. See, I don’t mind that climbing for an hour bit for the thrill of the descent… we don’t have hills like that in southeastern Michigan, though, so it’s a treat when I do get the opportunity.

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