In search of single track.

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.

The view from the highest point.

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.


  1. Back fighting fir again šŸ’ŖšŸ‘Œ


      1. kirkmtb says:

        It took me a while to spot that it was a spelling mistake. I wondered what you were talking about. Yes, I feel fighting fit now but need to do a bit more to get over the festive season.


  2. sailawaywithchelle says:

    It sounds like it was a fantastic ride! It also sounds like you live in an area with lots of cool trails! When I lived in Colorado, many moons ago, I rode both a mountain bike and a road bike — I enjoyed both styles of riding a great deal! Now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken to riding a ‘hybrid’ style bike — one that sets me up pretty upright as I have chronic low back issues (probably, more so, due to riding horses for many years as opposed to riding bikes). I also tend to only ride on paved trails, now, for reasons of comfort for my low back. We have tons and tons of them in my state. Many of these trails are what we call ‘rails to trails’ — literally old train tracks that have been converted into either concrete, gravel, or cinder trails for bicyclists and pedestrians/hikers. We have a very active/avid biking community in my state, too — biking of all kinds. It seems many people are now riding the recumbent bikes, a lot, too. Do you see many of those in your area? All the best, ~ Chelle


    1. kirkmtb says:

      Amazingly I built my own recumbent bike! It was fast on flat and downhill but very hard to climb hills on. We have only small hills, up to 1,500 feet, but it’s rarely long before you hit a gradient. We have a good variety of trails but what we lack is really long descents. My longest takes less than 15 minutes. We also have some old train lines but they can be very muddy in an area of high rainfall. We are close to the west coast and our town is next to one of the first hills from the costal plain. That’s Healey Nab which I often mention in my posts.
      I love to build things so I hope this year to build a new boat. I think I’ve had real success with a pedal powered dinghy. It may not be fast but there’s no way you could row a dinghy as quickly. I’ve read a little about boats which use a sail to assist human power so I want to build one. I have a plan, which I keep evolving. I have some negotiation with my better half to add to the project and will write all about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sailawaywithchelle says:

        Wow, that is quite the timing that I mentioned recumbent bikes and you built one yourself! That is so cool! Do you have any posts about it on your blog? I would love to see pics of the bike, too! I had wondered about performance of the recumbent designs — whether it be with respect to climbing hills, kinds of terrain covered, etc. I think if I were ever to ‘go the route’ of an recumbent style, I’d pick one of the bikes that sits you, more so, upright. I have seen some recumbents that are designed so that your neck would have to be constantly craned up to see where you are going. I couldn’t do that as I’ve some issues with my cervical spine. But, yes, the more upright variety might work for me — if I ever need a bike like that one day. That sounds like an amazing project you are interested in starting!!! I am excited for you to embark on that journey and I would really look forward to reading about your experiences on your blog! While not a paddle/human-powered sailboat, I recently read about a man, from Ireland, who built his own small sailboat (19 ft, believe) and, late last year, he sailed the boat across the Atlantic. It’s possible that he might have also built the boat so as to include a sculling oar (tho I’m not sure on that), so that would mean the boat has a human-powered capability. šŸ™‚ His name is Jim Schofield – here is a little write-up about him on a friend’s blog that I follow:


      2. kirkmtb says:

        Unfortunately I don’t have any evidence of my recumbent bike. I built it out of curiosity because I was fascinated by the concept. I used a kids bike which our son had grown out of for the front wheel and a leisure/ MTB for the back end. It was very hard on climbs and I’ve seen YouTube videos which suggest that this is par for the course with a recumbent. In a flatter area you’d be faster, I’m sure. They are harder to get going and balance because you can’t move your body significantly so you just have to physically turn the steering in the direction it feels to be falling. This didn’t stop me from maximising the speed on a local downhill road section! I’d planned to compare my time to an MTB on a loop of 20 miles with 1,700 feet of ascent. I timed it on the MTB but when I tried on the recumbent it was simply too hilly. I had to get off and push on a steep climb and thought I might not be able to make 2 long climbs later so turned back and didn’t get a comparative time. After that I took the components from the bike and threw the frame away.
        I enjoyed the video you recommended and keep thinking about my next boat. I need to be sure that I’m going to make it strong enough and will soon write a post about my thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. sailawaywithchelle says:

        Thanks so much for sharing the recumbent build story with me — it was interesting reading what your thoughts were on the experience! I will definitely look forward to your thoughts regarding building your new boat, too! So glad that you liked the read on Jim, too! Until next time — fair winds and happy trails!

        Liked by 1 person

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