On my last mountain bike ride, which was 4 days ago, I had a freak accident. I hit some wet tree roots at the bottom of a set of wooden steps and slid to the ground. It would have been fine if I hadn’t fallen onto a stone structure and hit the base of my skull, just behind the right ear, and bruised my shoulder on top of the shoulder blade. I was in some discomfort the next day and certainly didn’t think I could ride my bike. The following day I used my pedal powered boat with no particular problems and after a further day of rest I thought I’d try a bike ride today.
Yesterday I walked to the top of Great Hill at 1,250 feet with our dog, Freddie. I had plenty of time to think about mountain biking routes in the 90 minutes it took to reach the top and back to the car and I had a good idea. I’d ride to the top by my usual way but take a longer and more convoluted route down to Brinscall Woods for it’s fabulous downhill. It would take me across some broken and rutted ground which I have ridden many times in the more distant past but rarely ride now. I had the chance on our walk to check current conditions and there are some tricky parts with drop offs and some soggy looking patches which could catch your front wheel and send you over the front. I was unsure if I’d feel discomfort from my shoulder which could prevent me from completing this ride.
I set off from home and barely noticed my shoulder, even when I went off road, though at first it’s fairly smooth. I had to ride over a foot bridge which spans Black Brook and this needed me to lift the front wheel on the approach to then drop down 2 steps on the other side. It was OK so I continued along the lodges to White Coppice. I took the easy side of the river to put less stress on my injury and chose the steeper climb up Brinscall Woods. After a steep stone and gravel climb it becomes more technical and slippery due to the continuing dampness but I got to the top with no problems. I was then on a gravel road up the moor which becomes steeper and quite rough later. I could feel my shoulder but it wasn’t causing any sharp pains. There were a few walkers resting on top and I stopped for a picture.
I need some good hill climbing training if I’m to complete my target of a big ride this year. I had to change my original plan and now hope to climb the height of Britain’s highest mountain on our local hills, all off road. around 5,000 feet of climbing on dirt surfaces will be tough and since our holiday I think I have lost some fitness. I’ll need to keep the effort up if I’m going to be able to complete the ride in question, which will start with the ascent of 1,000 which I’d just completed. I started down and didn’t try to set any records. I slowed part way down because this section has often punctured my tyre with it’s sharp stones. It’s looking less savage at the moment but as I passed some walkers a young woman pointed out that my rear tyre was going flat. I replaced the tube and got going again.
After some gravel came the rarely travelled part and it’s hard going. Ruts and drops break the flow and for a descending segment it’s really physical to throw the bike down. After that the speed picks up and you need to pick a rut and stick to it. I turned right towards the woods across some damp moorland tracks. It often looks as if you could sink in crossing wet patches but experience tells me that the soil is so thin here that you’re soon through to a stony surface underneath the slop. I was feeling slightly more discomfort in my shoulder but it still wasn’t of concern. I reached the woods and worked hard over the first rocky hump which often stops me. With grit and determination I made it and completed the top side of the woods. Turning down the best downhill section I know I slowed too much over a fallen tree trunk, in deference to my shoulder. This pitched the bike sideways and I had to leap off but stayed on my feet. The rest of the way down was damp and slippery under the shade of the trees but still a fun descent.
I rode back to White Coppice and kept the effort up back over Healey Nab with it’s purpose built trails. I only started to feel tired later in the afternoon. It had been a good ride and I don’t think I’ve over stressed my injury.