I awoke earlier than I usually do, bleary eyed and still half-asleep, to help get my partner off to university (he woke up late). I thought I should take advantage of the early start to the day and get out on my mountain bike.. but my motivation was thin on the ground. I’m actually amazed I got out for a ride today as I was mentally prepared to just laze about the house as it was still raining. How can it just keep raining?! Day in, day out – rain. You would think the clouds would be empty by now, but nope – it just keeps coming. Yuck.
But instead of staying in and listening to this rad new tune by Gardens & Villa over and over again (“Bullet Train“, do go listen!) while drinking copious amounts of coffee, I found myself pulling on my mud-splattered cycling tights once more. Up into Latrigg, quickly shedding layers as it’s – gasp! – actually not that cold out (yay!) and finding the hills quite satisfying to conquer today. I got up and over the high point and turned my Yeti into the headwind and down the other side.
I raced down the greasy-as-fuck grassy slope on the back of Latrigg and humped my bike over a stile to get to Brundtholme woods.
The singletrack that characterises Brundtholme woods has changed recently – it’s mostly unrecognisable as the thin ribbon of goodness it used to be. Now it’s a big swath of machine-made forestry road, put in to support the tree felling operations going on in the area. It’s a necessary evil of course, but I’m just gutted that it had to occur on this particular piece of trail.
It’s one of those bits of trail that makes you smile like a fool every time you ride it. It’s really flowy and fun, and rides less like a ‘natural trail’ and more like one that actual riders would go out and dig into the hillside.
That ‘built-by-a-rider’ feeling is quite a rare thing for ‘natural’ trails in England, in my opinion. For ‘natural trails’ in England you have the two extremes of the Footpath (which can be amazing singletrack riding but bikes are technically not allowed) and then the Bridleway (which bike permissible, but can be a shitty mix of logging-road/double track/boulder-fest trails). You also have the ‘purpose-built’ stuff, but that is usually criticized as not being very progressive as it’s usually built on government-owned land (read: liability risks!). Of course there are some rad ‘purpose-built’ trails located on government owned land (Coed-y-Brenin, Kirroughtree), and also some rad Bridleway rides. But being a Canadian who has lived in amazing-trail-heaven that is Whistler, I just yearn for rider-built trails sometimes. And this piece of track felt like one of those.
So yes, a bit of mourning today while riding the once-singletrack-now-forestry-road. There was also mad grinning going on down the swoopy descents that are left intact… and also some seeds planted in my brain that maybe this summer I need to do a spot of cheeky trail building locally… hrrrm. 🙂