Monday, 14 April 2014

STW to the rescue

Just found this in my drafts, wrote it last April, dunno why I didn't publish it. Here you go:
Si was up for a weekend ride, Ryan injured, Johnnie unavailable, we figured we hadn't done the peaks for a while, but we've done hayfield and Edale valley lots so fancied a change, google to the rescue and found a route around the Goyt valley. I thought I'd run it passed STW first, nbt said yeah that's ok, but you could change it here and here or, tell you what, just come with us instead, so we did. Met up in marple, nbt his better half, Ian and Steve (I think), we dropped down to roman lakes and started the first climb, Steve on a pretty sprightly looking canondale was off like a shot, speedy. Rode through the golf course and down a bit of dirt road where one of steves spokes went ping, fortunately he had another 27 so removed it and on we went. Up passed mellor hall, across a field, tarmac climb then down Gird lane, fun! Started unassuming rocky dirt road then went round a corner and turned a bit more slabby with extra rocks and ping went another of Steve's spokes, oops. Climb back up to the hall and some more tarmac and dirt road got us to broadhurst edge or "zigzags" Steve rocketed off again seemingly unconcerned about his below par spoke count, dunno if reality hit soon after but I passed him halfway down, he then left us and rode home before any more damage was done. Quick snack stop (fig rolls for me) then a bit of road and a short climb got us to the bottom half of the lantern pike descent, nbt obliged by going on ahead to open the gate and we all pinged down to sett valley, was busy on the valley trail but soon got on to the hard 23 trees climb up to middle moor, tough start which I only just cleaned (and thankfully got to rest on gate duty) it eased off after that, Si broke out the jelly babies halfway and we slowly winched our way to the top. Stunning views at the top as we girded our various loins for the descent ahead, heather edged rocky sandy moorland singletrack that flows just right. Different lines to choose from, following nbt but often taking a different line, great fun and I was told in no uncertain terms to do the water splash at the end and not the bridge, yes boss :-)

I regroup on the grass soaking up the weather and atmosphere then a tough pull up out of brookhouse farm, scooted around the other side of lantern pike then dropped into rowarth, another nice rocky slabby downhill I started out first but nbt took me on a flat pedally section, I've gotten lazy recently, pedal more dammit! Bunnyhop had a bit of trouble, one of those stall n fall spd moments and ended up tangled in her bike but unscathed. We then climbed up hollinsmoor and back onto the top road again, whilst saying au revoir to Ian nbt spotted a tube bulging out of a slash in Si's tyre, sit down for a faff, I then noticed a link on my chain very close to falling apart, oops, more faff. Next was a fantastic bit of trail, started with a choice of singletrack or rocky double track, me and nbt went for the former but Si came passed us on the rocks, as ever soaking up the fast big hits with aplomb - all that practice kicking my arse on the ICR. Still not finished we rolled onto the fox inn, reminded me of a uk version of back of bar in Spain, starting from a pub, a lovely bit of track, not as twisty steep or tech as the Spanish version but on the plus side not as dangerous and no razor wire vegetation hanging from the trees. Just a really good track wending its way down to the railway bridge, proper floated my boat that one. A couple of climbs and some more swoopy riverside tracks brought us back to the roman lakes, just a steepish climb between us and the car (and some pub based refreshments)

Not our usual peak ride in that it was all rideable (!), with slightly more civilised gradients than Edale offers, a different side of the Peak District. I like it.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


For when singlespeed just isn't stupid enough! This lot are quite frankly mental. Took the long way home again, this time with more proper climbing. Took the outwood trail all the way to Radcliffe then jumped onto the bury canal, cobbletastic! Rattled my way out of town and then lo and behold more towpath upgrades, lovely. Spun up towards Elton, trail went a bit wonky there but got across Bury town centre without much trouble and joined the totty trail section of NCN route 6, some highly dubious signage sent me off course twice but eventually got on to some pristine tarmac that takes you from bury to greenmount traffic free, just the one ubiquitous busy road to cross with a pelican crossing that took an age to change. Through tatty tho it was lovely, lots of houses backing onto the trail and the majority of owners seem to take care of the scrubland between their house and the trail, was even a guy shovelling and sweeping winter run off and windfall from the trail. Nice! In greenmount, as so often happens, the dashed black lines on the map that looked like a straight route wasn't visible on the ground, road around to holcombe then i rode up the helmshore road, my legs grumbled, turned onto the bridleway too early up a silly steep cobble section, ouch went my legs, eurgh went the rest of my body as I rattled my way up. I ignored the bridleway straight up to the tower and back onto the road, not much further along I finally turned onto moor top. 63" is way too much for this stuff but I muscled and thrutched and swore my way up, finally got to the switchback and the gradient eased as I rode to the tower. Some nice views so decided I'd better stop and get some pics, got back on the bike and almost immediately found (and surpassed) the limits of the lateral/off camber grip of my tyres. A slick layer over a firm trail base meant my tyres slid for a hella long time before dumping me on the deck, covered in cold wet mud, nice.
 Down the steep hill road and off around the moor, tough going on my tired legs but doable, rode around to quarleton heights, had to push up the two stepped sections then ground my way up and around to the body farm. Fast downhill past crowthorne and down to entwistle, hit the tarmac climb from the res to The Duck with a lot of speed which disappeared very bloody quickly and I was using my whole body to eke out enough power to keep the pedals turning, around turton res, a carry up some steps at the far end, around the roller coaster (no chance of climbing the 2 steep sections) I hit greenmount road as a road club came passed so I jumped on my bike and rode the dirt track to turton tower with a notion of catching the club with my shortcut. Puddle infested section plus walkers meant I had to slow to a crawl at the tower so I got back onto the road just behind the club, the climb to the kings head got me pretty close behind (must be the club's easy paced group) got right up behind them in time for the downhill to turton school and drafted them down. Onto the chicken run at the bottom then home via the valley where more towpath works were in evidence, I'm liking this new push for upgrading traffic free paths, just wish they'd stick to urban stuff instead of also steamrollering sections of the lakes.

Had to hose down my burning legs when I got back, seems to have worked, just feeling a little tired this morning. Another long commute and i managed to ride more than I expected to, really would quite like some gears on this bike now tho please....

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Long road home

Not been out on a nightride for a few weeks, or weekend ride either so decided I'd better get one in on my way home, Friday I warned the mrs I'd be very late, had a very rough idea of riding canals and old railway tracks and end up at the pike for sunset. Set off, bridgewater canal to start, round deansgate basin then on towards old Trafford, got kicked off the canal at united ground, not sure if its temporary or united or flexing their might and not letting ROWs under their ground.

Diversion was advertised but none existent once off the canal, managed to get back on not too much further down the line. Towpath got really muddy near the Trafford centre but not for long, works afoot, gravel surfacing, will be nice when bedded in but a bit loose now. Was nice to be riding down the quiet path, only the odd walker once out of the city, no doubt surrounded by thousands of commuters desperately trying to get home through the traffic while I spin along the serene canal. Upto Monton and onto route 55, the old train line through worsley golf club, spun up there for a while before getting kicked off, short road section then back on all the way upto Ellenbrook where I could see quite clearly the trail stopped there. The trail ahead was a right mess, torn up for the new busway some seriously easy machinery in there, ripping the trees down and tearing up the ground, costing a small fortune, hope it's gonna be worth it. (is doubtful)
So onto the road (becoming a common theme) through to tyldesley the final back onto the old line, through Howe bridge, onto the Wigan line, screwed up in Hindley, the main trail ended up under 6" of water and further on 6" of mud, done this ride once before years ago, seem to recall there was a longer route which avoided this bit, bit of navigation trouble at dangerous corner but got back on track and onto good surface around Lowe hall park and onto the Wigan cycle way, whoosh high speed all the way upto the canal and up to top lock and onto the Leeds Liverpool canal. Was pretty tired by now  but managed to keep up the speed, was getting late and rivi still looked a long way off. Surface was mixed but mainly ok, after red rock it got a bit slow going then some more surfacing work but some of the wonkiest I've ever ridden along, got battered. Rolled into adlington pretty whacked, took the road to get upto rivi, snack above adlington, seriously needed a refuel.

I struggled up sheep house lane to top car park, was still just ahead of the sun, whoop, but could I climb AICR? As it ruined out yes, somehow made it up to George's lane, no chance of getting to the pike tho, rode upto the switchbacks then this being a cx bike, picked it up and ran up the steps to the top - ok, ok you got me, I actually walked wearily up to the pike.

Couldn't believe I had lucked out and timed it perfectly (quite by accident) took in the view for a while, a few snaps then down off the drops, obviously rode the full on mince line and easy does it down the ruts but cleaned it, impressed. Shifted down George's, had planned to do wildes but light was fading and I was pretty tired so gave it a miss, did drop into Acron village tho, was a wild ride down then sprinted through the village, whoop, cx bikes are awesome. Finished off dropping into barrow bridge by the dim light of my joystick then spun into town for a hard earned kebab (chicken obviously, my body is a temple) 43 miles in 4.5 hours not very quick but less nav stops next time should be quicker, 13 miles in the morning gets me my longest ride this year I think, hopefully will do this route again soon.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Five oh oh

Hmm. Is it possible to do 500 proper mountain biking miles in a month? From a thread on STW, just been thinking it out, would need nice weather, understanding family and a shed load of will power, 2 big nightrides (35+ miles) and either 2 decent rides or one epic 50miler at the weekend. Would probably just pick a thirty day period not bother with 1-30th of a single month, sounds like a challenge...