Back to the Peak

I thought I’d close up a great summer of riding on the Scott by heading back to an old stomping ground and riding some of the trails that first introduced me to the Dark Peak. In about 1997 when I moved to Manchester it was one of the first rides I did, back then on a rigid hardtail with 21 gears. Riding into Edale is one of my favourite routes. I parked up in Hayfield and road in over Jacobs Ladder and back via Mount Famine. All was good until about 30 seconds after this photo when I got a pinch puncture.

Jacobs Ladder, Edale

I drew blood on both thumbs trying to unseat the beads of the tyres and then when I eventually did, they then wouldn’t seat properly again. To top it all the patches I put on the tube didn’t stick and ten minutes later I was stopped again this time by the river getting eaten by midges whilst I changed it again. After that I was back on it cleaning the ascent up Chapel Gate and nailing it all the way back to Hayfield. Proper ride.

Back to Glentress

Thursday. Leave work drive completely the opposite way to home back to a place you haven’t been for 13 years. Find the same place to stay and the same place to eat. Welcome back to the Tweed Valley, Glentress and Peebles.

The border on the A68

Friday day off work and riding to be done. Glentress Red Route (I had completely forgotten what this trail was like) kicks things off. The trail head is completely unrecognisable. Bike park is new. Quick loop around and back for a coffee. Refreshed out to do the black, ah this is more like it. Those trails that Wee Ben and I did in the snow. The ones I rode with other friends over the years. Still a bugger of a climb. Body armour on for the descent. Deliverance feels slow today, bit over grown. Redemption, still that cramp inducing grind back to the fireroad. Yes I still hate you climb. Spooky woods and the rest and back to the trail centre for lunch.

Innerleithen Forest Singletrack

Refueled, it’s time to head off to Innerleithen. Jon Woodhouse and I rode this not long after it opened. We got lost. It was miserable. The downhill run on the insane course we did was far more memorable. Still today I’ll be remembering that climb to the trig point. That goes on. And on. Then the false summits. It eventually ends and I’m on top of what feel like a mountain with a cracking view. This is why.

Minch Moor Summit, Innerleithen Forest Trails

Gisburn Full Spectrum

Headed up to the Gisburn Forest in the Forest of Bowland for some riding. It was a first time trip there for me and finding the place is a bit of a mission, but managed it in the end. Having taken in the black, the red and the blue routes I have to say that there is some great riding to be had and that made it well worth the trip. The black run down the gully is a bit of a giggle and flows well but I suspect many are put off by the step down at the entrance. I’ll be going back for more.

Gisburn Forest

Gisburn Forest

Penmachno Again

It’s four and a half years since I last rode Penmachno in North Wales. Then I was fitter and riding more regularly than now. I some how managed both loops on the Singlespeed. Today I returned with the Trek Remedy and vague memories of the trails. Still ended up getting simultaneous cramp in both quads again!



Rode the whole trail without seeing a soul taking in the beautiful scenery. Sunshine and dusty trails gave way to some very waterlogged and wet sections, which made me think as I cruised round in my IMBA shirt that some trail maintenance is probably now needed. My arms now bear the marks of the over grown undergrowth lining the trails with brambles having grown a lot this summer.

My view having ridden this a few times now is that although there are some good bits this is a very rough trail and not that much fun. The rationale for this rather critical view is that there are big chunks of trail where you’re contouring slightly up or down and that this is just a bit dull. The slight downhill sections are so rough that they don’t flow and that you don’t really roll very well.

I was really tired by the end and had a very near miss clipping the bars on the penultimate singletrack section rounding a hairpin and grazing into the hillside bank. This led to me getting very out of shape whilst riding one handed at high speed. I’m going to put that down to honed natural instincts and baseline skill… still a bit of a moment because the consequences would have involved an inappropriate descent of a steeply sloping wooded hillside…

Peak District Biking

Had a weekend away in Buxton so threw the Singlespeed in the car and planned for a ride. Saturday morning rode up towards Long Hill out of town taking the Midshires Way. I caught up with a local fella near the top of the climb and we rode around together.

The steep climb out of the Goyt valley by Taxal defeated me but I managed most of the ride on a 32:16 without hiking. By the time we reached Derbyshire Bridge I was hanging on and the descent down into Burbage which is rapid on the Remedy was a bit of a disappointment. 

Good ride all in all. Need some new shoes as the grips on the soles are pretty shot on mine these days. 

One Way Ticket to Marple

Time to catch up with some friends this weekend, so the family headed over in the car and I set off a couple of hour before them on the bike. One way trip cross country heading East over the hills and then dropping down into Manchester. Leaving Formby, the IF express called at Ormskirk, Parbold, Rivington, Bolton, Radcliffe, Prestbury, Manchester, Stockport and ended its journey in Marple.

62 miles 3,000ft climbing. Several spokes came loose in the rear wheel to the extent that it wouldn’t go through the brakes even with the callipers in open position without rubbing. Then on looking at my stats on Strava it turned out that the cadence magnet had fallen off my left hand crank on the previous ride…

View towards Standish

Cracking weather too, not to hot cloudy with sunny spells and only a breath of wind. I’d forgotten how bad the road surfaces in Manchester and Stockport are though. Loads of pot holes.


White Roads

A while back my dad came up to visit and was taken along with his camper van down a white road. It was one of those experiences where the road didn’t allow you to turn back and you are committed and it was a case of just keeping going. It sounded horrendous to drive. I didn’t know the road, so having only a short amount of time but wanting to get out I thought that I’d do some exploring. Sure enough, it was pretty much an unpaved surface with gravel sections, pot holes, subsidence and broken tarmac. A bit like my old commute to work in Manchester.

white road

Still good ride. Managed to link up a nice little hour-long loop using some roads that are becoming familiar. The sun shone, it was warm, there wasn’t much traffic, but god damn it was windy riding back to Formby across the moss. Proper grind into the wind and having to resist the urge to drop down the gears. Home just in time for tea too.

road biking selfie

To Bury

I really like point to point rides, but ending up miles from home at the end of the ride is generally not a good outcome. Consequently most of my P2P rides have been on supported trips like the Chamonix to Zermatt or have involved riding self supported with all my own kit like the Trans Cambrian Trail. Having the option of a lift home in the car is a new variation on me. It is however the option that let me ride up to Bury, crossing for the first time in my life Rivington on a bike. The rider names from the Commonwealth Games road race in 2002 are still painted on the road over to Belmont.

To the Ranges

Having ridden east and north, I decided that it was time to head south and try and find the path to Hightown the next settlement down the coast from Formby towards Liverpool. I knew it existed, I’d spotted the cyclepath sign whilst out driving with the kids. I could remember exactly where it was, but it looked clear enough on google maps. I was wrong. It wasn’t the right path and a white road became a double track which became a single track and the next thing I’m at the perimeter of the Altcar Ranges with the Army shooting at things.

Near Altcar Ranges

I skirted the red flagged area, but the bath turned literally to sand which is not ride-able over any distance on a road bke with 23mm slicks so it was hike-a-bike until I eventually found the path I was looking for. Once into Hightown another white road descended into track as I headed for Little Crosby but from there it was all on the black top. I ended up in some of the less glamorous parts of Merseyside which I decided (based on the number of boarded up houses and funny looks from the locals), was not the place to be on a road bike, in disco slippers wearing lycra. A swift exit followed, back to the tranquility and relative wealth of rural Lancashire for the rest of the ride.