A different way up.

After a ride of around 45 miles on fairly level ground, much of it along canal towpaths, I wanted to do another slightly longer ride than usual today but incorporate some climbing. I had the idea to ride a long climb to Hordern Stoops, which is a high point when you take the tarmac road west to east but is a low point on the ridge of hills running north to south. I could then undulate on a mainly stone slab track northwards over Redmonds and Spitlers Edges to Great Hill for the classic downhill which is currently my favourite. I took a road route to the dam between the Upper Rivington and Anglezarke reservoir before a steep climb to the Yarrow reservoir. This took me to the bottom of Lead Mines Valley to climb to Hordern Stoops. On a remote part of the moor I took some pictures at the site of some ruins which were formerly a farm called Higher Hempshaws.


A lonely location on a cold winter’s night!

I tried hard to make the last long, rocky and lumpy section without a foot down but stumbled over a clod of earth. At the saddle point I turned north where my highest point of the ride was reached at 1,286 feet. Great Hill looks more imposing when viewed from the west but isn’t actually as high at 1,251 feet. There are some good alternative ways down from these higher places which I must find time to ride again after many years of not using them. The stone slabs, which were dropped here by helicopter, are bumpy going. On a couple of fast drops the surface has been left as stones looking sharp enough to take out a tyre so I was a little cautious. I reached the top of Great Hill for the fabulous downhill to the bottom of Brinscall Woods and set off basically certain that I wouldn’t be able to resist going fast. Last time I set a best ever time of 13 minutes 30 seconds and some tenths. This time, since it was still before 9am, there were less walkers on the hill and I didn’t really need to slow at all. I wasn’t giving it everything on the fast, open part but built up the pace because it seemed that with no hold ups I could be as fast as last time. Down through the woodland it felt great. I didn’t make any time consuming errors and worked hard. I clicked my stopwatch at the bottom.

The iconic Casio watch (which even minor stars of TV can be seen wearing!) showed me to be only a fraction of a second different to my last attempt. Consistency doesn’t sound as exciting as speed or record breaking but I think it shows that I’m riding close to the limit and not making errors. A great descent and I still had Healey Nab to ride. I used a new section of downhill which was completed last weekend and it gives an exciting new way onto a familiar segment at a higher speed than the usual way. I was annoyed with the app. Strava when I got home because it told me that I’d not correctly followed the route on a segment entitled “Better than going straight down”. I’d set a PB last time and was surely faster this time. I imagine it’s just a GPS tracking problem which robbed me of a potential King of the Mountains crown. It gives me a target for the summer. I’d ridden 16.98 miles with 1,678 feet of ascent.

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