Saturday, 27 February 2010


"After I have travelled so far
We'd set the fire to the third bar
We'd share each other like an island.

Until exhausted, close our eyelids
And dreaming, pick up from
The last place we left off
Your soft skin is weeping
A joy you can't keep in ." *

The foteygraf below, is our street at about 0800 . We'd planned on a trip to Coed Llandegla , in N.Wales , but after seeing the forecast , and under advice from the guy at the place ,we called it off for another time .

So , then we wake up to this .

Good call , I'd say .

Following some frantic texting , Jeff and I decide to hoof it up Rivi . I've had a message off Rick out of the shop . He's got some snow too , and is going to set out from his side of the hill and we'll rendezvous later on . Whatever that means . It's French . There's no mad panic to get up there , although Keiron is heading up there too , but I'm not even sure we'll make it . Anyway...

Here . We take the usual route ,heading up towards the canal and Wigan .

Around about this time I get a TXT off Tony . I ring him . His lad's footie is off , surprise surprise , and he's coming too . Ace .
The clock's ticking , and to be honest , it's tough going at times .

After briefly making camp ,we eat the dog , and soldier on .

OK , so we successfully circumnavigate Wigan ,encountering many hazards ,en route , whatever that means . As we get to the top end of Wigan at New Springs , I suggest getting on the road . It's going to save a fair chunk of time , so it is done . There's no way we'd get up there in time to meet Tony and Keiron.

We're on the road climbing up to Aspull no more than a few minutes , when behind us we hear a ship's claxon . Like that one on the Titanic .

It's Tony in his wheeled cathedral.

It's actually a Volvo , that's thiiiiiis biiiiig.
It's got heated 4 wd leather seats ,and a built in fondue set , and all kinds of gadgets .
It's a tough descision. Hmmm .

The result of this serendipitous event , means Keiron is only suffering from mild , early stages of hypothermia when we get there .

So without any further ado , we mount our rusty steeds and continue . I must've been suffering from snowblindness , or something , because I kinda took a wrongish turn . You cant really call it wrong , but as climbs up through the gardens go , it wasnt exactly right either . Suffice to say , we pushed up a fair portion of it . What can I say ? It was a toughie.

So , we meander , on and up , and up and up and on to the Pike .

It was'nt all that cold , but it was a few degrees cooler up here , as you can see in the pix , a bit bleak .

For the first time in , I dunno , ever , I back-heel the slabby drop , fearing ice , and stick to the grass drop , ( to the right , yes ? ).

I suppose it's 'statistically ' not as hardcore as the slabs , but as I'd not done it since I cant remember when , it was all a bit new . The rutted drop had filled in with snow in places , and one that I picked towards the bottom had about 18" of snow in , that nearly had me off . Brill .

We get to the gate at the bottom in one piece , when the phone rings . It's Rick . He's leading the charge ( " Huzoor "), up through Walker Fold / Burnt Edge with his buddies .

The plan's coming together , and we decide to meet on the Mast Rd .

So we head for there , then.

We need to get up Wildersmoor . Regular viewers will no doubt remember it gets many a mention here . Depending on the time of year , and the weather we've had / are having , it can be anywhere from a right laugh ,to a fair old ding dong ,or anywhere inbetween. Today it's got a fair covering of snow , but , surprisingly , is'nt so bad .

Luckily , it's that nearly perfect snow that lets your tyres just bite in enough and affords a reasonable amount of grip .

Jeff nails the Humphrey's Ditch . Which was nice .

We climb on towards the Mast Rd . No sign of Rick at the top , so we make a left ( up ) , and head for the Two Lads . Well , underneath it on the road . Here ...


It turns out Rick et al , are just behind us , so we wait for a few minutes , and here they are .
' Garçons sont arrivé.

We exchange pleasantries , and head off on the most perilous part of our journey thus far.
Before we had a ' back up vehicle ' , I was thinking about now would be about enough . Time to head back . Tony has offered to run us home in the Volvo though , so we can go a little farther . Obviously , going over the top , means we have to get back over .
San Marino , then .
The San marino is good at any time of year . It's challenging enough , without being too steep and dangerous . I only fell off twice .
It was snowy.
Here , Rick in action.

Following this we drop through the little woods at the bottom and hoof it up the road , pass the ' Black dog' Pub , and turn up left beside the Black Bull pub to run parallel-ish with Rivington Rd / Sheephouse .
It looked like this . But better .

The next bit is good . But it's also bad . I've been along this 'path ' in the height of summer and got my feet wet .
There was a slim chance it could've been frozen solid , but it was'nt . Still , in a perverse ' personal challenge ' stylee , I really enjoyed it . And only got slightly wet .
We join the road just briefly , Ian leaves us for home , and we carry on . Just along the road we turn right and nibble at Spitlers a little bit , only a 100m or so , and then head to the left diagonally to drop down to the valley that leads to Leadmines . ( Hempshaw / Sam Pasture / Wilkinson Bullough ) . The temperature has plummeted , which just goes to show .
I remind myself that this is one of my very favourite routes back as I grit my teeth through freezing rivers of stagnant sheep piss.
And then we arrive at Leadmines Clough . Which I like . There's a war memorial you know ? And a Stone Circle . Well ,you seen one , you seen em all .
Yarrow .
Cafe .
Custard .
1970 Dodge Charger . The actual vatican on wheels . Parked up . Bonkers.
Volvo .
Home .
Bit late .
That's all you need to know .
* Snow Patrol .

Sunday, 7 February 2010


"One can have a dream , baby,
Two can make the dream so real..."

Good spin today . Myself and Jeff .
I sent a TXT round yesterday announcing the usual rendezvous at 0830 , up Rivington on the Barn Rd .
The almost total lack of replies changed my mind a little bit . Jeff had said he'd pick me up , but seeing as there was nobody to meet , and we didnt have any particular time to adhere to , I suggested riding up . We could go at our own pace , see how far we got , and when we'd had enough , turn round and head back . Old school . Kinda how it used to be before the invention of car-biking.
Car-biking is a modern off shoot of mountainbiking , a bit like uplift assisted downhill mountainbiking ,and it's popularity is growing in direct correlation with the UK population's BMI.

So , Jeff gets to ours around 0800. Already the spanners are out . I'm on my mid-school Gary Fisher Big Sur . I've not been on it for a while and I think the cables have settled in or something , but I couldnt easily get the granny gear , and the big ring was not having it at all . A quick fettle and we were off . That was the faffing out of the way , and it performed without incident for the rest of the ride .

Jeff is on his new- ish Orange Five . We dont sell them , so I wont tell you about it's robust , industrial simplicity . It's a sorted bit of kit , but you should definitely not buy one . Opt instead for a custom built American 5" er , say , a Turner ,(Available now to demo ) or if you prefer ' off the peg ' as I do , you cant knock the Cannondale RZ 140 .

I havent taken any pictures today . No particular reason , apart from it being a little damp / cold early on . Later on I just couldnt be arsed . Here , a picture of an old bike instead...

We headed up through Wigan on the canal to Haigh , nipped into the woods ,not climbing as far as the hall , then back on the canal to Adlington . Out of Adlington into Rivington , then up to the Pigeon Tower and the Pike . Off the back , and then down the boneshaker ( Roynton rd ) to the back of the school in Horwich . Hoofed it to Aspull , and then dropped through Haigh Plantation again to pick up the canal , and home the same .

Here , the canal .....

Good ride , some good ups , a few tough climbs , and some good drops .
I particularly enjoyed bombing down the boneshaker . There's a gate about a quarter way in , that was fortunately open , so no loss of momentum . It's one of my classic downhills that I would do regularly in years past , but havent for a while . It's the kind of fast , wide trail that on a full susser might be seen as a bit tame . It's perfect then for a hardtail .
I know I can bang on all day about the simple joy of an uncomplicated old MTB , but I realise it's not for everybody . There's a place too for the modern bikes . They've without doubt come on leaps and bounds in the last few years , in how they work , how little they now weigh , and how much performance they can bring to the trail for less money , relatively , than ever .

But , I , me , myself , and all my other split personalities get something from my old bikes that you cant buy . An actual ' nostalgia trip ' .
I also realise that I'm a bit weird . If I had more money I could be labelled ' eccentric ' , I suppose , but I prefer being a normal regular working class nutter.
See , in a way , it's exactly like it used to be . Mostly I took up MTBing because I just love riding bikes . But , secretly , it was good to be part of a select little club that other people , ordinary people , didnt get .
Ergo .
Vintage sit up and beg .
dayglo legwarmers .
Polystyrene mushroom helmet .
So , I'm bombing down the boneshaker , and I'm 17 again . You cant buy that . Well , you can, on Ebay , but it takes quite a bit of effort trawling through the detrius. It's better to just keep all your old crap.
The Fisher is'nt exactly old though . It has modern-ish things . Like brakes . Theyre of the ' V' type , so work OK , and it has forks of the suspension type .

" Cold gravel " , I hear you cry .
Compared to the Axis I was on last week , it rides like a Bentley.

I didnt mention this to Jeff , but I had a little moment on the second half of the descent . I was probably going what can only be described as too fast .
A water channel crossing the path turned into a jump , which in turn , turned into a bit of a ' dead sailor ' . On an old ( ish ) bike , at over 20 MPH ( feels like 50 ) , it definitely gets the arsehole winking . I thought I was going down , but didnt .
That's the kind of thing I'm looking for . All the thrills , but leave the spills . Hey , I'm 41 now . It's shaping up to be a classic year.
Here , Map thingy .