Today I expected that, despite 2 days of glorious sunshine, the trails would be rather damp. I thought about a longer ride and remembered last year riding to the “Egg Hillock”. It’s a curiously egg shaped mound on a remote Moor. I decided that the trail conditions were likely to be unfavourable so chose instead to ride up Great Hill for a bit of an adventure. The hill, at 1,250 feet, has several excellent downhill options but after so much recent rain I know they will all require more time to dry out. I need to get some longer rides in to build my stamina so thought that it would be good to use a longer route, rather than just riding down and back home. It seems like a shame to do all the climbing and not then use an exciting descent but it may be a price worth paying to build long distance fitness.
Despite the clear blue skies the temperature was only in single figures celcius so I dressed appropriately for the conditions. The ground wasn’t too wet on the way to the start of the big climb but I was feeling a little tired, I don’t really know why. My climb up the gravel fire road in Brinscall Woods was interrupted by a fallen tree which gave me an unwanted rest as I found a way round it. I’d have preffered to get a clear run to test my legs a bit more. Climbing up the moor starts on smooth gravel, becoming rocky and loose as the trail steepens later. Any wetness drags on the wheels so it felt like quite a tough climb. I was even overtaken by a fell runner. Fell running is popular in the North of England and involves running up and down hills, often for very long distances. I used to fell run myself but after a recent road run I realised that I’d need to train a lot to return to hill running. I stopped at the summit to take a photograph so knew that I wouldn’t be catching the runner.
From the top I started along a stone slab and rock path which runs southwards, directly into a fairly stiff breeze. Progress was slow and with steps in the trail I had to push the bike occasionally. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to ride a steep climb and gave up, which I’m now annoyed with myself about. I’ve ridden the climb previously so should at least have had a go. Great Hill may be a summit but along Redmond’s Edge where I was now riding actually reaches a greater height by a few feet.
I’d decided to risk a downhill which is rutted and rocky. The surface was slippery but still exciting, though I didn’t take any silly risks. This sensible attitude is a feature of my riding these days. The surface changes to a gravel road into Lead Mines Valley and the sensation of speed on the long downhill was thrilling. In the valley itself there’s a high adrenaline drop but I had to show deference to some walkers rather than just leaving the brakes alone.
After one more off road drop I used the road back home and had covered 15.75 miles in 2 hours and 9 minutes of riding. It was good to have been out for a little longer than normal and I’d climbed for 1,513 feet, which must be good for strength and stamina. I wasn’t too fatigued at the end but this year I hope to do a ride of 3 times this length. I don’t know if I’m fully ready for this so will try to get more longer rides done. My intention is to climb the height of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, in a ride around the local hills. I enjoyed a different kind of ride but I’m keen to get back to riding the more thrilling downhills as soon as things dry up.in the spring.