It’s my favourite ride. Go to the top of Great Hill at 1,251 feet and ride the exquisite downhill through Brinscall Woods. It’s a long and varied ride with some flat and undulating sections, lots of gravity assisted parts and a bit of everything that we mountain bikers love. The climb is valuable exercise and probably good for the soul and today took me just over an hour. Being so dry, with no significant rain for weeks, I used the technical trail from White Coppice to the woods on the way out but had a foot down at the hardest section. I think that I lacked belief in myself and the quirky 17 year old Whyte JW4 that I chose to ride. Yes, I’m still awaiting the wheels for my Boardman which have been at the bike shop since 15th February. 10 weeks or more later he is, apparently, attending to them as I type.
I was riding at a good pace and kept working hard to the summit where the screen of my phone was too feeble to see. I prodded at it blindly and managed to take 2 pictures of my face, not the glorious view. Below is the kind of picture I was trying to achieve, taken some time ago.
I decided to to do a fast descent and set off quickly. I used the grassy edges of the trail which are often too wet and soggy for speed but today were a delight of twisty track. Over the first of 2 stiles and I kept the speed up, just taking the edge off at the rockiest part in deference to the Whyte’s narrow, tubed tyres. On the smoother gravel I noticed that my legs were feeling it but pushed on. The quality of the riding keeps improving with a sinuous single track across the moor, still heading downwards. Over the second stile is the undulating top edge of the woods, beginning with a challenging rocky hump. It’s so much easier with bigger wheels than the Whyte’s 26ers but I made it through grim determination. After this flatter segment is the best part of all and I was pumped with adrenaline and fully committed to speed. I twisted and turned, jumping fallen trees and banging over rocks. Until I got halfway down where the trail crosses the fire road.
I could see an individual, possibly in his 30s, engineering a blockage with rocks and branches. I shouted abuse of the most obscene kind and rode round his environmental vandalism. I crossed the fire road to find the 3 drop offs comprehensively blocked. If you want to annoy someone, don’t pick an athlete hyped on adrenaline. I used more expletives than normal words as I told him his stupidity could kill someone. In a more rational moment I’d have told him that trespass on a bike is a civil offence between the landowner and the rider. He’s not the landowner. The area is owned by United Utilities who seem to have no objection to riders. His actions, as well as being morally indefensible by putting others in danger, are an act of criminal damage, punishable with up to 6 years in prison. Not that the police are interested. They’ve got enough motorist to annoy to keep them busy.
I got round the vandalism and will return tomorrow to clear it up. With no hyped up state going on I could impress upon him the importance of desisting for the safety of himself as well as mountain bikers. He declined my offer to sort it out there and then and I continued. I’d drained the sump of the vilest invective but I soon got back into the ride. Easy when the trail is so good.
I rode back over Healey Nab, still pushing the pace. I’d recovered a little from my big effort on the main downhill but knew it had been a good workout. I’ll take the dog tomorrow to clear the mess and post on some local MTB pages to warn others of the danger. Just before I got home I saw a cyclist with a puncture so stopped to offer to fix it. He only had to get round the corner so he declined. See, I’m not such a bad person, even if I did, for the first time In living memory, use language that would have shocked a docker.