Last week I walked my dog, Freddie, up Great Hill which I often ride on my mountain bike. I’d spoken to a rider at the summit and found that he was intending to ride straight down the trail to White Coppice which was a route I rode with friends until about 10 years ago. I tend to use a different option now which involves riding the first third of the descent before veering off towards Brinscal Woods for my favourite descent of all. Today I thought it would be interesting to try something different and ride about two thirds of the way to White Coppice then use a fairly level moorland trail to still reach the top corner of the woods to then ride the best descent I know.
The weather was again dry and according to the forecast should remain so for at least another 7 days. Bring it on! I’ve heard quite a number of people saying that they’ve never been so desperate for the spring and that’s just how my wife and I feel. Maybe this dry period is our reward for waiting? I started at the pace I intended to maintain for the whole ride and used my well practiced route, which is almost all off road, to the hamlet of White Coppice. I rode along the river and climbed steeply up Brinscal Woods, riding up the trail I would later use as a downhill. For the third time recently I found that branches had been dragged across the trail to halt mountain bikers. Whenever they reappear I will move them, which was the reason for my chosen route. It will be just one sad, fun hating individual doing this, I’m sure. I decided to ride along the top of the woods to use a climb which may be a short cut but has a couple of 100% effort sections. I was pleased to make it all the way especially as I’d already been working hard on the earlier part of the ascent. The trail continues to climb, more gently at first, then on a rocky surface to the summit at 1,250 feet. As I was about to set off down I found that my saddle was failing, with a transverse split across the middle. It continued to be a worry and just about lasted until I reached home where It fell apart completely.
I used some vague trails across the rough grass and heather as an alternative to the rocky ways with their often sharp, protruding shards of stone. This is not the quickest way to descend but it avoids the possibility of pinch punctures where the inner tube is nipped by the wheel rim. I then started on a very rough descent which I very rarely ride now. The ground has become much rougher since the 1990s with lots of muddy sumps to suck a wheel to a standstill. I was unsure of the best way in places and didn’t manage to find any flow. I was happier when the trail smoothed out then I turned northwards towards the woods. It’s a reasonable trail to get you to where you’re going but has no thrills so all in all I think my usual route to the woods is far better.
I again failed on a rocky hump at the start of the top edge of the woodland so that’s 2 successes followed by 2 fails in my recent tries. The rest of the way didn’t disappoint, especially the long drop to the river. I reached White Coppice and was asked for directions by an E bike rider. During my ride I’d noticed that every single rider I saw had electrical assistance. I don’t feel I need assistance. Surely it’s better exercise to ride without and my fitness will continue to allow me to ride with only leg power? Maybe in 20 years time? I was tired on my return via Healey Nab and I’ve resolved to try something different on my next ride. Instead of trying to maintain the same pace I’ll start off more gently and build the speed up towards the end. It was a great ride covering 16.04 off road miles with 1,419 feet of tough ascent.