If Proper Mountain Biking™ involves getting a map and planning a ride from scratch and then going out, finding the trails and following them, then it’s my favourite kind of riding. The excitement lies in trying to follow trails that look so clear and distinct on the map, but in reality turn out to be vague and hard to place. Is it this path or that one? It’ll be a right bugger if I ride down this hill the wrong way and then have to ride back up…
Based on this assumption todays ride was was proper riding. The start point was Dunsop Bridge, tucked away in the stunning venue of the Forest of Bowland. There is a slight irony in the name because the Forest isn’t actually a forest, but does have a shed load of big steep hills and lots of valleys and moorland. Bowland was formerly called “Bolland” – a name for which there are various interpretations – a derivation of the Norse ‘Bu’ (cattle) or Celtic ‘booa’ a cow, signifying cowland. The word “Forest” is derived from the latin “foris” meaning an extensive wood or tract of open country.
After rolling out of the village Tyrrell and I spent about an hour looking for the first trail. This involved riding up and down the road on the same hill several times. Which was nice (in a “bloody hell this hill is steep” and “not a-bloody-gain” kind of way). In the end it turned out we had ridden too far up a hill we didn’t need to ride up chasing some dude on a road bike. Not only had we ridden too far up, we’d crested it and ridden all the way down the other side. We rode back to the summit three times before we finally worked out that we had misread the map…
Of course once we made it onto the trail it was a great day out. Half way around we stopped at a pub for lunch – a Trans Cambrian classic combination of Aberdeen Angus Lasagne and local Golden Trough beer. The afternoon brought the best riding of the day, but it came with a price. As we started the homeward section the riding took us through a small woodland, wherein the trail dropped down to a ford crossing.
The run in and exit of the ford and the stream bed over which the water was flowing was all concrete. As you might imagine it being in a woodland it had several years of rotten leaves breaking down on it and as a consequence was slippery as a very slippery thing. I was carrying far too much speed into it and it was like hitting black ice. One minute I’m upright and the next I’m sliding down to the river. Christ that hurt. New forks scuffed, dented pride a few laughs for Tyrrell, but no real damage done. Post ride assessment revealed a big bruise on the left hip with accompanying road rash and a bruised elbow. What an ace day out. Proper Mountain Biking™ rules. The photos are in the photo section.
Updated: August 2020 fixing broken links
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