I planned a trail ride but as soon as I left the house it started to rain. It was fairly light rain and continued throughout the ride but once I was out I wasn’t going to turn back. I wanted the ride to be oriented towards stamina so would ride at a steady pace, getting gradually more tired as the ride progressed.
As I rode along the bottom of Healey Nab I was tempted to change my plan and ride the hill top trails, some of which are under tree cover. The rain intensity kept varying and at the point where the decision had to be made it was light enough to convince me to continue with my original plan. I rode to White Coppice and continued along the river to Brinscall Woods, being overtaken by half a dozen E bikes in the process. I doubt they were getting the same training value as me and don’t suppose they were having any more fun!
The climb up Brinscall Woods is steep and in the wet conditions was hard work. The climb continued up a short section of tarmac then a dirt road up the moor to the high point of the ride. It would have been foolish to continue to the top of Great Hill in these conditions but my plan was something different. I took a right hand turn onto a rough, grassy descent pictured above. It was exceedingly wet and despite going down it was fairly slow progress until the steeper bottom part. Turning left at the bottom I was on a level track which cuts across the moor to join a famous downhill back to White Coppice. Here the wet, muddy ground had me crawling along at walking pace. My advice on such difficult ground would be to keep it in a low gear and try to spin the pedals. The alternative of grinding the pedals around in a higher gear will only compound the misery. Fortunately the ground here has only a thin layer of sloppy mud over a firm footing of stone so the puddles are rarely more than a few inches deep and I only ground to a halt a couple of times.
I reached the Great Hill/White Coppice downhill about two thirds of the way down. Higher up than this I imagine the trail would have been impassible on a bike but from this point on it offered as much speed as I could have wanted. I’ve heard complaints about some footpath improvement towards the bottom and this was the first time I’ve ridden it since the work has been done. I was quite cautious but think it will still be a blast in drier weather, on a much smoother surface than previously.
I rode back to the rear of Healey Nab and climbed up to the top. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I still had plenty of energy and had a good ride down the twisty downhill. It was here that a first noticed a stinging feeling around my ankles. The wet and wind chill had burnt my skin. Our son may be 21 years old now but fortunately we still had some nappy rash cream in the bathroom cupboard. It did the trick. Lucky break! Despite the conditions and starting to feel a bit chilled towards the end I was glad to have got out and done an hour and three quarters of energetic riding. Having said that, bring on the spring!