Riding without a plan.

I usually plan my rides in advance, usually with some target in mind. Today, though, I started my ride with no particular plan because of the recent weather. We’ve just endured storm Eunice. Naming storms in Britain is a recent idea and Eunice was the second named storm in a week. The last one really came to nothing but we were warned that Eunice would be a once in a generation storm. It wasn’t. The TV news was searching the country in vain for stories of extreme weather and disaster. There was some structural damage to building in the south of England but surely this happens at some point every year? I feel that it’s once again a campaign of terror to convince us of the Global Warming Theory and the restrictions that will be placed on our freedom in the fairly near future.

None of this worried me as I left home on my mountain bike. I’d thought that because of the heavy rain over the last few days I should do a road ride with some hill climbing. I’ve often chosen to circumnavigate Healey Nab which rises to 680 feet but the road drops to a reservoir before climbing to 791 feet on the approach to Winter Hill. The prospect didn’t seem nearly as exciting as an off road ride and as I left the house I changed my plan from a clockwise to an anti clockwise rotation. I then decided to use the minor roads to reach the southern end of my route. I didn’t push the pace at all but knew that I’d have to up the effort later to climb the steeper hills. I stopped a couple of times like a tourist, firstly to see if I could access a long reservoir to use my boat later in the year. It didn’t look possible so I continued the ride and crossed a dam which divides 2 bodies of water which lie at different levels. I thought it would be better to use an off road option at this point which involves a very steep ascent.

This overflow is often dry but is now raging with water running from the highest local reservoir, the Yarrow.

The ground was firm enough so after a short road section I started to climb Lead Mines Valley. The gradient starts gently enough but steepens before crossing the stream over a little bridge. The gravel climb is about as steep as a bike can manage and I was grinding in my lowest gear. I tried standing but by shifting my weight forwards I started to spin the rear wheel. I made it up to a gate which I had to open but would love to have been able to climb the whole way without this short rest to really push my stamina.

A short while later I was back on the road for the rest of the ride and now faced a steep descent from the highest point on the route. The wind was against me so I didn’t get anywhere near the 40 mph which is possible here even with the fat tyres of an off road bike. At the bottom it looks as if flood water, which has probably run down the tarmac, had push over a length of dry stone wall. Fortunately the stones had fallen away from the road but it’s a shame to see such an old structure damaged. I hope it will be rebuilt later in the year. It was good to get out on the bike and the highlight was certainly the hard climb. It’s funny how the nearest thing to pain is the thing you often enjoy the most.

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