Rivington Pike.

If you asked a local mountain biker for a good placec to ride, they’d more than likely say “Rivington”. Rivington itself us a tiny hamlet but is often used to refer to the West Pennine Moors where Winter Hill at 1,498 feet is the high point. On the western flanks of the hill lies Rivington Pike which is a curiously steep mound in an area of rolling moors. No one knows whether, at some time in ancient history, the mound was reshaped to make it prominent. At the top is an 18th century stone hunting lodge, which has had its entrance and windows blocked up for as long as I can remember.

The Pike from Crooked Edge Hill on a ride in 2019.

After several days of at times heavy rain we were treated to gentle sunshine this morning. I rode to the area, which is around 4 miles from home, and started the long climb to the Pike at 1,150 feet. I took a fairly steep route to give me better value in exercise terms. The wet ground made it tough going as I continued, non stop, to the top. I could only see around 10 miles in most directions, today.

The reservoirs were highlighted by the sunshine.

Once on top I was ready for the main focus of the ride, the long downhill. I had three main options from this point, one of which is rather more dangerous than I like to ride now. I used to be happy to drop from rock slabs at speed but now think that the risks outweigh the thrills. I took a fast, stoney descent on lesser gradients before a dirt road section to the top of what was once my favourite downhill. It’s still good but I’ve found better downhills since. In addition, MTB technology, particularly in the suspension department, has come on in leaps and bounds. Trails that were once too rough to enjoy now flow well. Today I immediately noticed how this trail has evolved. The formerly smooth start is now more rocky with several drops of a foot (30cm) or so. Then the flat corners have been scored by use and rain water into grooves of around 6 inches in depth. You have to get into the ruts and make sure you follow the groove to avoid disaster. I think with practice I could be faster than 25 years ago because your wheels aren’t going to slide on the mini bankings. For much of the rest of the segment the ground was covered in fallen leaves so I needed to be more cautious to avoid hidden rocks and broken timber. It was a good descent. According to the app. Strava I’m the fastest ever rider in my age category here and 26th fastest of the total of 695 riders. I think if I’d only discovered the downhill in recent times I wouldn’t be nearly as quick but it’s amazing how I remember every twist and turn a quarter of a century after first being introduced to it.

Next came a more cross country type of section which is still fun and lead me back to the road for home. I covered 13.58 miles with a healthy 1,415 feet of ascent. The sandstone hill dries well, even after such heavy rain in the last week so I’m sure I’ll return many times this winter. I even enjoyed the mainly gentle downhill roads towards the finish.

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