Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Manchester Mountain Bikers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manchester Mountain Bikers. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday 19 October 2014 – Strines Sunday with MMB


I pay the subscription, so I should join the Manchester Mountain Bikers at least once every year!

Today I went along to Strines station, near Marple, for a ‘diesel-paced’ ride with Duncan, Steven, Glyn, Adam, Kevin, Darrell, Stuart and Simon.


‘Meet at 9am, ready to ride 9.15’ was spot on and gave me a lie in as Strines is only a 30 minute drive from Timperley. We were soon on our way, gradually ascending a series of hills that took us slowly towards Mellor. The pace was, well, diesel rather than turbo diesel – about the same as last Sunday’s pace, but with more stops to regroup.


A succession of good tracks and minor roads led to a good track heading east past Robin Hood’s Picking Rods. Well, it was an easy path, but best not to put your feet down when passing through the slurry pictured below.


The track rose gently to a high point of the ride – Cown Edge. Here’s Adam arriving…


…for a pause for sustenance, and a rare occasion when cake wasn’t available (due to my very busy day yesterday).


There were good views towards Kinder Scout.


It’s a mildly technical descent to the Pennine Bridleway. I was slowest, having taken suspensionless Shogun on this ride. Others went so fast over the rocks that a tyre exploded!


Here’s the group at the Pennine Bridleway, where some sort of ‘horse event’ was taking place.


We passed a number of horse riders and walkers today, and as usual when I’m with the MMB riders, I was impressed by the level of courtesy shown by the cyclists. It’s great to go out with such a friendly, supportive and courteous group.

After the short pull out of Rowarth, it’s an easy return to Strines via Castle Edge Road, from where this view towards Hayfield and Kinder can be enjoyed before the descent to the Fox Inn (sadly not yet open today) and the steep rocky final descent to Strines, where all the suspension bikes flew ahead, leaving Duncan to check that my more circumspect descent was achieved without losing too many fillings.


Here’s the route – a very good one with no need to push at any point -  20.6km, 500 metres ascent, taking us 2.2 hours. Similar terrain to last week’s CMBM, at a similar pace but with more pauses, and about half the distance and time.



Monday, 14 January 2013

Sunday 13 January 2013 – A Bike Ride from Marple

Sunday morning beers outside the Fox Inn

I’ve been a member for nearly a year now, but this was only my third ride with the Manchester Mountain Biker (MMB) Club.  I should join this friendly bunch more often, as these are always very jolly outings.

After nearly crashing into Huw in the car park, I recovered my composure and set off down the Middlewood Way with today’s leader, Steve Brok, in a group of 18, or was it 19 (we never seemed quite sure, but I don’t think anyone was lost), eager punters on a brilliantly sunny morning.

Steve Brok leads the MMB squad along the Middlewood Way

Huw came equipped with the latest breed of slimline mountain bikes, with skinny tyres and no gears.  It reminded me of one of my old bikes, except that it didn’t sport the fixed wheel that kept dumping me over the handlebars of my bike!

Huw on his single speed bike

Glaring sunshine on the Middlewood Way gave way to shady tracks leading up from the West Gate of Lyme Park.

The track into Lyme Park from the West Gate

Four of us enjoyed a little excursion to the top of a hillock, whilst the majority regrouped.  Luckily, nobody saw me lose control completely as I flew down the far side of the hillock!

Soon we found ourselves gliding along beside the Peak Forest Canal, trying as always to be courteous to other users of the towpath.  With 18/19 of us that may have been difficult, and I can understand some folk being a bit narked by such a large group of mountain bikers.  However, today’s sunshine brought the best out of everyone and I didn’t hear a single harsh word.

By Peak Forest Canal

By the time we reached Strines, Steve seemed a bit concerned.  We were dangerously ahead of schedule. "I fancy a beer!" announced George.  I hadn’t even been aware of a ‘schedule’, but nobody seemed to complain about an extra loop being slotted into the ride in order to contrive a visit to the Fox Inn.  Huw disappeared for a while then reappeared at the pub – I think he may have found a different route, and I suspect he walked for a short distance…

The Fox Inn provided an excellent array of refreshments, supplemented by cake a little earlier at the top of the hill, and by chocolate biscuits from a birthday boy.

Until today, all my MMB rides had featured a chap called Keith, who is a quite fanatic mountain biker.  It had been a surprise not to see him on today’s ride, but I believe Keith does like a beer, so it should really have been no surprise to see him put in a guest appearance at our pub stop!

Keith puts in an appearance

After a while – we’d cooled down a bit outside the pub – Steve decided we might now be a bit behind schedule, and was worrying on behalf of anyone who might be late for their Sunday lunch, so off we flew, down a lovely descent that I think he called the ‘Fox Trail’.  [Personally, I think it was his own lunch (or lack of it) that was worrying him.]

After arriving at Strines for the second time, we headed up to the farm with the old Ford Capri, where I was impressed with the leader’s ability to repair a broken chain in just a few short minutes. 

Another easy hill, just near the end of the ride, took us to a carefully arranged mudfest on the otherwise delightful descent of Strawberry Hill, to ensure that everyone went home 'gooey'.

At the bottom of the Strawberry Hill descentSteve Brok - Mud Man

Thanks for leading, Steve.  I think we all enjoyed this ride.

Here’s our rough route - approx 24 km (15 miles) with about 600 metres ascent, taking rather more than 3 hours.  I reckon it would be around 2½ hours (give or take) in a smaller group without the pub stop. I’ll try it soon, as my Garmin was out of action today.

Our route - approx 24 km (15 miles) with 600 metres ascent

There’s a slideshow with a few more images here.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Wednesday 11 January 2012 - Marple Mellor Night Ride with the Manchester Mountain Bikers

Walc 'leads' a 'night ride'

Last night I enjoyed my second trip out with the Manchester Mountain Bikers, this time on a ‘night ride’, my main reason for getting together with this club.

A ride that lasts from 6.30 to 8.30 pm would more correctly be described as an ‘evening ride’, but it was dark, so who cares.  It was also fine, after another ‘mizzly’ day, and thankfully (whilst Liverpool were thrashing City in the rain in central Manchester) all we got by way of precipitation on this ride was a little very light drizzle.

Roman Lakes being closed, we started from Arkwright Road in Marple, taking care not to damage a pristine hedge, and soon after 6.30 I headed off with Walc, today’s leader, pictured above, Keith who I’d met before, and Steve, Adam, Richard, Austin and Poley, down the rutted lane towards Roman Lakes, then up the steep, rough lane to emerge at the golf course in Mellor.

This was the steepest part of the outing, which although ridable in its entirety somehow did seem to be mainly uphill.  Luckily Keith was ‘sweeping’ on this ascent, and arrived at the top carrying my rear mudguard and a foot protector that I’d lost without noticing.  Thanks Keith.  The other foot protector came off (my trail shoes turn out to be two bulky for these protectors, normally worn with trainers) and the mudguard was re-attached, though I spent the rest of the evening nervous about losing it again.

We were soon off again along the pleasant single-track to Brook Bottom and (sadly) past the Fox Inn.  Around here we lost Poley, allegedly due to a light failure, but I think he just fancied a drink. We then turned left to complete an interesting circuit via a fudge brownie break and Mellor Moor, with fine views of the lights of the surrounding towns, before regaining the single-track leading back down to the Fox Inn, which again we ignored, this time in favour of a steep but enjoyable descent to Strines Station on another track that hadn’t previously seen the wheels of one of my bikes.

Then it was easily back to the start via the lower track past Roman Lakes, chatting with Keith about bike trips to the Alps and Pyrenees.

I think Walc had intended to ascend back up to go around the golf course and down to Roman Lakes by a more sporting route, but it seems that he missed the turn.  I was quite happy with the short figure of eight circuit.

My new lights worked very well, and there was hardly any speed sacrifice due to the darkness, but a minor gear problem meant that I stayed in a low gear throughout the ride in a bid not to get covered in oil, so I tended to bring up the rear, being naturally the slowest on steep ascents and descents as well.  Sorry, folks, if I kept you waiting.

Here’s the approximate route – about 14 km, with 350 metres ascent, taking just over 2 hours.

Our 14km route included about 350 metres ascent and took about 2 hours

My Garmin Gadget produced the following data:

As noted above, we returned extremely muddy.  So when I got home I dumped my track suit straight into a sink to wash off the worst of the mud.  Oops, my camera was still in the pocket.  It drowned.  It will now sit in a bowl of rice for a few days in a (probably futile) bid to resuscitate it.  The memory card was undamaged, though, and at least it wasn’t my new camera…

All in all a very pleasant little excursion, despite the camera mishap.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Thursday 29 December 2011 – Screaming Cats and extra bits – a bike ride

Mountain bikers in Danebower Quarry

I’ve recently joined the Manchester Mountain Bikers club as a guest rider, principally in order to try some night riding, where for safety reasons it’s probably better to be part of a group.  However, the weather has been so dismal that I’ve not been tempted to desert the comfort of the settee, and anyway many of the night rides are described as ‘fast-paced’ so probably not for me.

However, I noticed this ‘Screaming Cats’ ride and decided to get a bike out for the first time in a month.  It would be Stumpy’s (my ‘new’ bike) first ‘proper’ trip.

Leader Keith advertised the route as “16 miles - usual Screaming Cats route with an extra loop around Knotbury, nice cheeky trail through quarry with a rocky switchback and chute, followed by a techy climb out of quarry, road section around top then fast techy descent to 3 Shires Head . Lunch, then nasty climb, rejoin cats route at top of Cumberland Clough  then last climb and through Macc Forest to pub/cars.”

I’d not heard of the ‘Screaming Cats’ route before, but I don’t think Keith had heard of the ‘Big Macc Ramble’, which I also wrote about here.  Basically, Screaming Cats is a shorter version of the Big Macc Ramble, omitting the descent to Langley and the long ascent to Charity Lane.  But Keith’s extension makes his route a bit longer than the Big Macc Ramble.

The forecast predicted ‘showers at first, clearing by mid morning’ – pretty handy for a mid morning meet, and as five strangers assembled outside the Leather’s Smithy with their bikes the showers had indeed stopped.  But we took so long to get going that the rain decided it had taken a long enough break, so it further delayed us as waterproofs were donned.  They remained in place for the next five hours.

Getting ready to leave from the Leather's Smithy

My usual start from here involves a relaxing descent to Langley and some pleasant tracks in the shadow of Tegg’s Nose before the ascent to Walker Barn and Charity Lane.  Keith’s route was a bit more brutal, and we soon spread out as one by one we felt the effects of our morning coffees and the lack of facilities at the start.

Graham ascends Hacked Way Lane

Despite being strangers, this ride felt like being out with long-standing mates.  There was a bit of waiting around for various reasons, and although I was clearly the slowest rider of the group I didn’t keep the others waiting for long, and everyone seemed more than happy to pause every now and then.

The views across to Shining Tor and the Cat & Fiddle from the top of Charity Lane were not exceptional today (see link to slideshow later) but at least the cloud wasn’t down, it wasn’t raining too hard, and I could educate the others by way of pointing out the highest place in Cheshire (Shining Tor).

Julian and Martin O on  Charity Lane

Continuing along the familiar route to Macclesfield Forest and Bottom-of-the-Oven that ‘Screaming Cats’ shares with the ‘Big Macc Ramble’, Keith provided some useful comments about riding style on steep descents.  I can’t say I’m into technical riding, and I’ve certainly never received any tuition, but this was the first time I’d ridden these loose rocky tracks on a bike with suspension, and I have to confess I found it considerably easier and quicker than with the old Shogun bike.

We were soon on the long road ascent to join the A537 near the Peak View Tea Rooms, from where I hadn’t realised that a good trail leads directly to the Cat & Fiddle, cutting out a hairpin on the busy main road.  Thanks Keith, I won’t be cycling that section of road again.

By now it was somewhat inclement in the weather department, but we unanimously declined the dubious warmth of the draughty interior of the Cat & Fiddle in favour of a blow across Danebower Hollow with the wind vaguely behind us.

“We are all crazy” commented a couple of walkers, hanging onto their hats for dear life as I stopped nearby to collect a mudguard that had been expelled from the bike by an unexpected gust of wind.

“Do you want to do the 5-6 mile extension, or continue around the 12 mile Screaming Cats route?” asked Keith.  If there were any dissenters, they kept quiet.  I was firm with my choice – the extension was what I’d really come for.  Everyone seemed happy enough despite the increasing frequency and intensity of the showers, and we were soon enjoying a technical descent into Danebower Quarries.  I walked – I didn’t want to damage myself on this first trip with the club.  The slideshow has some images and videos of the quarry descent and ford (which all bar Martin O walked across).

Then we headed along an excellent path above Knotbury, taking an unexpected turn left up the hill to the pub and café at Flash Bar.  I was lagging behind and thought that Keith had taken pity on Martin O (soaking wet and cold) and brought us slightly off route to the warmth of the café.  But no!  “Oops!” exclaimed our leader, and headed off back down the hill without another word.  Having regained the planned route, another enjoyable descent brought us to our designated lunch stop – Three Shires Head.  Martin O paced up and down in a futile effort to get warm – he eventually snatched my camera and took some nice pictures of the water, the best of which is the lower of those below.  Meanwhile, here’s Keith, like the rest of us, chomping through a butty.

Keith lunches at Three Shires Head

Three Shires Head (photo taken by Martin O'Mahony

Whilst I took a few images on the ascent from Three Shires Head – nobody managed this tough climb over loose rocks without having to dismount – the weather closed in for the rest of the ride and the camera was moved to a more waterproof location.  The descent to Cumberland Cottage and the road at Clough House was so much easier with suspension – a totally different experience from the one I’m used to – but it did take us rather a long time.  That was thanks to a problem with Graham’s brakes that Keith eventually fixed, but not before Julian and Martin O had spent much of the 40 minute delay cowering behind a dry stone wall in an attempt to shield themselves from the sheeting rain, sleet and hail.  The conditions were less than pleasant.

The ‘usual’ route through Macc Forest was eschewed in a bid to get back to the cars before dark, and whilst a very slow vehicle did its best to foil us on the tarmac descent, we did all succeed in that objective.

The Leather’s Smithy was full of people, but its doors were locked, so with several riders wanting their hot baths as quickly as possible, we gave the pub a miss, heading off home but leaving Martin O sitting in his car in an attempt to thaw out.  Perhaps he’s still there!

There’s a 24 image slideshow here.  Note that the video captions may be out of sync, due to a problem with Picasa.

Here’s our route - approx 28km (18 miles) with 700 metres ascent in about 3 hours riding time, taking us a very leisurely nearly 5 hours in total.

Our route - approx 28km (18 miles) with 700 metres ascent in about 3 hours riding time

Here’s the ‘report’ from my Garmin gadget:

Thanks for your company, everyone.  I really enjoyed this first trip out with the MMB club.