I read a comment on Strava by someone who’s progress I follow. It pointed out that the trails in Brinscall Woods are running near perfect and, being my favourite local riding, I was tempted. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the top of the woods for your first downhill so I chose instead to keep it even more local and ride 3 laps of Healey Nab. There are still a few wet patches but most of the ground is just about dry. There were a couple of other riders on the hill of a similar age to myself. They were riding down the rather short black graded routes whereas I was using the longer red graded. I think the red downhills provide more fun and give you twice as long to enjoy it with the assistance of gravity.
With conditions so favourable I was riding my 2004 vintage Whyte JW4. I’d be unlikely to ride such an old bike on really wet trails because such conditions are bound to cause wear to the bike, especially since older bikes were less well protected against water and dirt ingress. I’d noticed after my last ride on the Whyte, about a week ago, how quick the bike was on certain trail segments. The radical linkage front suspension means that virtually non of your energy is absorbed by the suspension bobbing up and down. Issac Newton told us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but only changed from one type to another. I’d rather have my efforts propelling the bike along than ending up as waste heat in the shock absorber. In addition the Whyte is considerably lighter than a modern trail bike which will always help with climbing and acceleration.
On the down side I could occasionally feel the front wheel feeling uneasy on some of the corners. The narrower 26″ tyres have a far smaller air volume than bigger 27.5″ or 29″ versions. They need to be run at a higher pressure so are not quite as good at absorbing ripples in the surface hence providing less grip. Imagine a modern version of the Whyte with 29″ wheels and 150 mm of suspension travel at each end. If the weight could be kept down it would surely be the perfect trail bike but I’m likely to have to keep dreaming. Although one of the other riders on the hill said that a mate of his had had an early Whyte like mine they were simply not a good enough seller and development ceased.
I climbed 3 times to the trail head, taking the red graded downhill on the first and second descents. For my final downhill, with so few riders in the area, I rode the red graded climb as an unofficial descent. It’s different to the berms on the other routes with much more unpredicability. It doesn’t flow as smoothly and might not suit everyone but to me it gives a more enjoyable challenge. It was a great ride but unfortunately the following morning, as I write this, we’ve had some light rain so my next ride may be a little different.
– riding on local trails nears perfect for beginners.
– the suspension works well and the bike is lightweight for easy effort.
– riding downhill gives a more enjoyable challenge than uphill.
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