I haven’t been able to ride my mountain bike for a whole week because of the snow. Yes, I could have ridden but I’ve never found that riding on snow is as entertaining as you might imagine. My only exercise has therefore been walking our dog, Freddie, including a very tough walk the day before I finally rode. Our son had come home for the weekend with his girlfriend so my wife and I joined them in a walk near Rivington. We would have climbed around 700 feet to Rivington Pike but the snow and ice made the climb treacherous. In many places we had to drag each other up impossibly difficult terrain so decided not to make the final climb to the top. The descent was almost free of snow and ice so was easy but the whole walk was rather hard on the leg muscles.
After the walk I didn’t want too hard a ride the following day so rode to Healey Nab to ride 3 laps. With the weather suddenly warming to 11 Celsius the snow and ice had gone but the recent precipitation had left the trails muddy. I was riding my 2004 vintage Whyte JW4 because it already had my pedals fitted but maybe this was a mistake in the grotty conditions. I don’t usually let my older, classic MTBs see the mud to better preserve them.
I could feel the effort in the climb to the top of the hill and launched myself down in an attempt to prove the abilities of an older bike but discovered later that I was slower than recent rides on the Whyte due to the mud. I still thought that, with a short climb intervening in the descent, that I still would have been slower on a more modern, heavier bike. The penalty of a mere 100 mm of suspension travel at each end didn’t hold me back on this particular downhill though I accept that on a tougher trail I may have struggled more. What really surprises me about the Whyte is how well it copes with the roughest part of this trail. A series of repeated bumps due to embedded rocks are simply lapped up by the radical linkage suspension. On my 3 descents I never once felt in danger over this particularly challenging segment.
Strangely I seemed to feel better as the ride went on. Maybe I was taking it a bit easier on the climbs. I used an alternative, black graded segment for my final descent but I must admit that I prefer the longer red graded option. You get more time on the longer, less steep downhill and still need skills to maintain the speed. There were a few other riders on the hill with a 50/50, split between conventional bikes and E bikes. It is starting to look as if E bikes are taking over on the trails but I’m yet to be convinced. Surely a big part of mountain biking is to maintain your fitness? I know you can ride for longer and climb higher with electrical assistance but I’ve tried E biking a few times and feel sure that I’d never tire myself in the same way that you do under your own steam. I was quite tired by the end and still had my old bike to clean of all the mud. What do readers think? Are E bikes the future?
1. Despite the snow, the writer was able to exercise by taking a tough walk with family.
2. The writer rode their older bike on muddy trails, surprised at how well it handled rough terrain.
3. The writer prefers a longer, less steep downhill and questions the use of E bikes on trails, believing that part of mountain biking is maintaining fitness.
4. The writer finished the ride tired and needing to clean their old bike of mud.