Yesterday I set off to ride Brinscall Woods for its fantastic downhill sections, which I intended to ride at least twice. Early in the ride, though, whilst skirting the bottom of Healey Nab I realised that the ground was still very wet in places. Apparently we’ve had one of the wettest ever Marches and despite recent wind having dried the ground in the open we had lots of mud under the trees. Not only would this rather spoil the riding in the woods but I could have damaged the delicate surfaces so I changed my plan. I rode to the north end of the Nab to lap the purpose built trails. They may lack the unpredictability of natural trails but at least have a compacted surface which is little affected by mud.
I climbed to the trail head at 680 feet and found a rider adjusting his tyre pressures on a new Trek Fuel. I’ve been riding my 2014 version of this bike for the winter. It’s a 29″ wheeled full suspension bike with 120 mm of travel at each end. I like the Trek but would love the new version. Typically of modern bikes it has a lower bottom bracket, where the pedal cranks attach, longer suspension travel at 150 mm and a considerably slacker steering head angle. Pushing the front wheel further forwards may mean that the bike doesn’t feel as keen to turn around very tight corners but gives more stability at speed, compounded by being closer to the ground. The longer travel suspension would absorb bumps and rocks far better, promoting improved grip. I just have to keep reminding myself that my current Boardman FS Pro is still a good bike and that the improvements in a new bike like the Trek are incremental, not revolutionary. Maybe next year?
I used a variety of routes around the hill during my 3 laps. A muddy area, which I’d contemplated clearing of the rotted leaf litter, has improved with use. On my second lap I took a detour to a section of single track which leads to nowhere except the view point pictured above. It’s a section of natural trail which you really need to battle on the descent. Rocks and sudden twists try to inhibit your smooth progress and it’s well worth the trip. On my final descent I put more effort in to improve my time then found the route down the front of the hill to be sodden. It was a good ride and I think I definitely made the right decision to change my original plan.
I like that you decided to not use the wet trail. We should all be more aware of the damage that can cause, as well as the extra erosion that happens when people repeatedly try to skirt the edges of the muddy or wet sections.
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