I used to ride absolutely any trail I came across. Today, though, I rode a trail which I’ve ridden before but found myself completely out of my depth. My problems started before the ride when I tried to replace the front mech. cable on the Trek 29er. It is routed through the frame and a tiny screw had seized, rounding out the socket head. I’ll need to remove the rear shock to cut a slot in it so I decided to ride the Whyte PRST4 instead. It might get a little muddy for a classic mountain bike but that’s what they’re made for. I’d seen the trail in question on a Facebook video being ridden in fairly damp conditions but that didn’t bother me, I was keen to get off road following 2 road rides. I’d walked the dog and already decided that it was too muddy to do my favourite ride to the top of Great Hill and down through Brinscall Woods.
After about 20 minutes on the road and across a park I reached Rivington Barn for the steep climb up the terraced gardens. All was going well and I reached the Pigeon Tower for my descent. It’s a loam single track drop through woodland and from the start of the steeper section I was in trouble. Even in a straight line my wheels were both sliding side ways. I was completely out of control and had to stop. Tyre tracks through the slimey mud showed that someone had ridden it very recently, probably today, but how was that possible. It could just be the 26” wheels with lightly threaded tyres or it could have been one of the mountain bikers biggest enemies, a lack of belief. If I was sliding in a straight line how could I turn?
I felt thoroughly defeated and tried to console myself with the fact that I have ridden the descent a few years ago. I returned home, putting some effort in to make the ride worthwhile training. I could return in drier conditions, preferably on a more modern bike with bigger tyres but I can find a more rewarding downhill to make the climbing worthwhile. I’ll leave it to the YouTube generation. It wasn’t the best of rides but to paraphrase an old adage, the worst day’s cycling still beats the best day’s working.