Spring has 2 possible start dates. The equinox around the 21st of March used to be considered correct but nowadays it’s probably more common to cite the first of March. The other day I looked at weather.com which predicted 10 days without rain in our area. This is excellent news for every mountain biker so I need to make the most of it. I didn’t ride yesterday because we’ve started a big job in the garden. My wife, Ali, asked me what I’d do in the garden if I had a blank canvas, rather than 23 years of effort, to deal with. I said I’d build an Italian style sunken pond near to the house and she agreed, it’s basically what she had thought would be best. Since then she’s been like a dog with a bone and I’m no less excited about a major change myself. So what’s wrong with what we’ve got in this part of the garden?
Looking back at pictures from last year it doesn’t seem like anything is wrong but gardening is a passion just like mountain biking and evolution is necessary to keep it exciting. Riding even the best quality trail would become far less appealing if it was your only choice and in the same way, after around 10 years of having 3 raised beds, we are looking forwards to a change. Another less tenuous connection between my garden and my cycling is that I’ve done a lot of heavy work already in lifting paving slabs and the sand and cement base they were laid on. I could feel from the start of today’s ride that my muscles had felt the efforts of yesterday and this morning. With this in mind I decided to ride to Brinscall Woods but not go right to the top of Great Hill, saving over 3 miles and 350 feet mof climbing.
We’ve had rain since my last ride to the woodland but I was surprised to find how much mud had accumulated in places. Another difficulty was the number of people out for a walk. A year ago I would have only expected to meet a handful of walkers on my entire ride but we’ve undergone a cultural change as a result of the Covid 19 restrictions. Walking in the countryside has become the thing to do for all sorts of people. It’s good that everyone is making the best of our environment but I had to slow down many times. It took around 45 minutes to reach my main objective which was one of the longest downhill trails within riding distance of home. It isn’t so well known to have been given a name but I saw tyre tracks from the start.
The first open moorland section was slippery, making it difficult to find a good flow. I climbed over the stile into the woodland and worked hard over the first rocky hump. Again I was saved by the 29″ wheels. Any smaller wheel size would have made it much harder to get through without stopping. I battled along the top edge of the woods for the best part. over 4 minutes of uninterrupted, high quality downhill. You’re never just riding along. You need full concentration and commitment all the way with so many and varied corners, log hops, rocks, roots and other challenges. It was well worth the effort of getting to the top and lead me back down to the Goit, a straightened river. In this direction there were even more walkers but with a bit of politeness from me everyone was friendly and helpful. I honestly think that Covid has made people nicer. I rode on to the back of Healey Nab for another good descent. There were plenty of riders on the hill. Well I say “riders”. It’s amazing to me how much time they spend talking the talk when they could be walking the walk. I’m sure that when I rode in a group we spent almost all of our time riding, only stopping occasionally to regroup. A good ride with the delightful prospect of another dry week.