Saturday, 13 September 2008



"Zippin' up my boots
goin' back to my roots,
To the place of my birth,
back down to earth."*

Couple of differences this week. Biggest one , I suppose ,is that this Sunday ride was on a Saturday.The other big difference was ,in a classic style ,we left the car at home and hoofed it up.

Just Jeff and I this week.He got round to ours at 8.00 just as I was putting a bit more air in the tyres on the Fisher.

We set off ,jacketed up ,but as in recent weeks ,soon warmed up.Still proper muggy I think. 'Classic' route up to Rivi. Drop down to the canal ,out of Wigan towards Haigh ,but swung towards the Wuchie for some teary eyed reminiscing.( Me ,Jeff complaining about the impassable/impossible/improbable mud). Used to have SO much fun round here as a kid starting out on the mountainbikes.Good challenging climbs ,techy singletrack and killer drops. All out of bounds now. They're all still 'up there' in my mind though. What ever happened to Gaz ? His face looked like a pepperoni pizza when he came off that day. I can laugh now. We had to take him home.

We scoot towards Haigh ,just skirting the plantation ,and climb up to the top of Aspull,bit off road ,bit on ,and then towards Little Scotland ,Anderton , ya di da , Rivington.

We stay low for a while along the upper edge of Rivi Res' with 'views ' of the Pike and mast obscured by low cloud and end up at Liverpool castle were we kill our bananas.I get the camera/phone out for a pic and the maddest thing happens just at that moment . The sun comes out. Not seen the thing for a while . It seemed a bit weird.Nice though.And the cloud has burned off too. An impressive view of the Pike to cut out and pin to the wall of memory.
From here we take a different approach to the climb than normal,climbing up towards our favourite 'bombhole' at the 'ravine' end of the gardens. A proper tough climb . Just about steep enough to be classed as 'do-able',but with perma-wet cobbly stones a definite challenge. I'd like to say I 'cleaned' it . But I didnt . No shame in the odd dab.

Jeff had a problem here with a wayward LH crank arm coming loose. Luckily he had his trusty big allen key to sort it out. It would have been a long walk home without it. Just occasionally when I'm packing my backpack I'll think " Do I really need all this crap ? "

Usually the answer is "No ". But when you do........

With the crank tight we meander on up through the gardens,checking it again as we get to the toilet block.
From here up to the Pike . It'd be rude not to. Still muggy climbing up ,but just as we round one of the corners there's a definite drop of a degree or two and a clearing of the air .Mad . Nice though. Bumped into Matt on his singlespeed ,flying down,on his way to 10,000 miles.**

It's a bit cooler up top,but not cold enough to wrap up . We have a minute and drop off the back . Have I mentioned that I like this little downhill ? It's becoming even 'tastier'.I dont know if the drops up top are bigger,just a bit edgier . Or something. And there's a new rut appearing. Yay. Bloody masochist.
Weighing up our options ,and factoring in the not inconsiderate mileage home ,we decide on a caff run . Ice Cream Run is the easiest from here,just as it's starting to rain too. We must be just outside the confines of the 'weather vacuum'. It all adds to the life affirming experience I suppose.Maybe it was the rain and the wet rocks ,I dunno,but the fisher isnt quite as 'easy' as last weeks Commencal. Is that a good thing ,or not?

Kid Rock's on the radio. Right now. Singing 'sweet home Alabama all summer long'. The Fisher is like that. It's a version of a classic . It isnt at all offensive, and makes you feel quite good.Again , I dunno . It takes me somewhere I like to be at.

Ice Cream Run. Caff.

In another break with what is becoming tradition ,I eschew the Earl Grey for a coffee quite simply bordering on ristretto ,paired with working class toasted white bread and marmalade to assuage hunger.
Hunger assuaged ,the earlier rain has blown over,we spin on the road into Horwich/Blackrod with a slight diversion through some woods to the A6 .Boggy.Nettle-y.
Shortly(more road) we arrive back on the top edge of Haigh plantation at the 'Balcarres Arms 'end,nipping down the side of the church for the long downhill into the woods. A fast well surfaced blast . Recently 'sanitised ' I'd say ,but still a blast all the same.

We just 'go through the motions ' and drop straight through the 'plants' ,avoiding any mad boggy stuff. As responsible ,mature MTBers we'd say the trails are 'unsustainable' when theyre so wet. The truth is though we'd had enough for one day and couldnt be arsed . There is one particularly wet bit I considered for a nanosecond.That run from the canal .( ? ) Maybe next week.

Return loop on the canal fairly uneventful ,apart from the canal lock in Poolstock coming off its 'hinges' and that whole section of the canal draining away. It was fine and full of water when we went past in the morning. The waterways guy said he thought it had been hit by a canal boat . Weekend drivers,eh ?

Scotsmans Flash.Landgate . Soughers Lane .Ya di dee. Dinner's in the dog.
IRO 35 miles .

*Odyssey. Back to my roots.
"Ain't talkin' 'bout no roots in the land,
Talkin' 'bout the roots in the man."

**Matt rides a singlespeed.He intends to ride 10,000 miles off road this year.Just think about that for a minute.


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