A single track mountain bike trail is a narrow track with little option to alter your line. The picture above shows a trail I rode today, a perfect example of the type. I’d looked on Google Earth, which is a fabulous resource for finding new trails, and noticed a dotted line across a section of local moorland. The line surely indicated an existing route which would descend for some distance so today I decided to find this unknown gem.
I used the roads to reach the village of Rivington then climbed off road. It was a wide gravel road at first but soon changed to narrow trails. mainly under trees, up the Japanese styled terraced gardens. These gardens were a philanthropic gift by soap magnate Lord Leverhulme and have some great riding over 100 years later. After a gentle descent on George’s Lane, a wide dirt road, I made the final steeper climb to my high point. I was feeling like it was hard work though in my defence the tyres were dragging in the mud. Mostly there was only a thin smear of mud on the surface but when I ran onto gravel and grit the bike moved much more easily. The tyre drag may also be compounded by my having changed the rear tyre a short while ago from a Maxxis High Roller 2 to a Maxxis Minion DHR. This tyre offers much more grip for climbing, braking and cornering but the price for this is more drag. I stopped by my objective and a walker I’d overtaken asked if I’d changed my plan. I had no choice but to change my plan because the expected trail wasn’t evident on the ground. We chatted about trail options and it turned out he’d walked up by the way I now intended to descend. First I rode along the trail in the top picture, turning at the end to include the single track in my first bigger descent.
After the single track the trail turns left on a fairly constant gradient. It’s very fast but with many sharp stones and the worry of slipping on mud I used the brakes a few times. Despite my apparent cowardice my time was the 7th fastest out of 40 riders this year on the app. Strava. I just don’t have the hunger to take 17 seconds off my 1 minute 28 to then be crowned King of the Mountains. It took me some time to be comfortable not trying to be as fast as possible but after 2 bone breaking incidents a few years ago my attitude has changed (somewhat, at least!)
My next descent was down my former favourite downhill. It’s now badly rutted over the first third where water has scored trenches in the surface. It’s possible that mountain bike tyre tracks have made things a little worse. Ooops! Still, it will probably heal up in the spring. I’d started my stopwatch at the top and was initially a bit distressed that my time was 2 minutes 49 seconds. When I got back home I found Strava had timed me 7 seconds quicker which makes my best time, before Strava existed, look even better than I’d imagined. Yes, I would have been King of the Mountains. As Sylvester Stallone as Rocky might have put it “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.” That statement doesn’t really tell the story very well. My best time is 26th out of 674 riders even though I’ve been riding the segment rather cautiously in recent years. Last time down I had a pinch puncture on a part with many sharp rocks so I took it easy there. I enjoyed the descent but in more recent times I’ve found some distinctly better downhills which I’m itching to return to as soon as the ground dries up in spring. I continued off road for a while then used the roads for the last 4.7 miles home.
I rode for 96 minutes of which 60 were used to climb to the high point. I was buzzing from the exercise when I got home and I think the cold weather adds an extra tingle.