I live in the very flat lands of the north Cheshire plains where Merseyside and Lancashire meet.
One advantage is that there are loads of off road trails but unfortunately nothing exciting but one this it does have is an almost guaranteed supply of coastal winds which is a great aid endurance training and spoiling many relaxing rides with a head wind from hell to get through to get home.
These head winds can be directly in you face for up to 8 or 9 miles at a time, I class this as hill training and it’s put me in good stead for a good level of fitness (for a 47 year old), but today there was no wind at all and I needed some “hill training” ready for next weekends Welsh Bear Bones Winter bivi event called the Ford Fiesta (not a car but lots of “ford” crossings and wet feed, not a great idea for early January.
So, today I took my Travers Angus/Rudy Fat 29er+ the 45 minutes away by car to Rivington Pike with a plan to ride from the Barn to the top of Winter Hill several times, winter Hill is the mast on the hill you can see for miles around from Manchester, Liverpool and Preston.
It was an early, dark and cold start
Once there it was time to get ready and moving
Once at the top of the “Pike” itself it was time for a few photos of a lovely crisp morning
Apart from myself there was only an early morning jogger and a dog walker, when riding up to it a 2nd time your could hardly move without bumping into walkers
This is the Winter Hill mast and my next target for the day
I take this opportunity to apologize about the aero bars, they are not cool and totally unsuitable for this sort of riding, but they are a faff to set up at the perfect angle for next weekends bike packing ride as I use them not only to have another hand position on the bars for flat sections but for hanging my sleeping bag underneath.
Once under the mast it was time for a couple more photos
With a cloud inversion all the way over to Fiddlers Ferry on the Mersey estuary
I rode down the tarmac of Winter Hill, I turned around a the bottom and rode up it again, at the top I headed back down again but this time down towards the Dog Kennels which is a locals favourite descent, then back to my car along the babies heads rocky road and the “broken road” descent, then down to the car where I got the back packing burner out and boiled some water for a noodle in a mug snack.
I removed a layer and changed gloves to some not so insulated as it was now just above freezing, I rode up to the Pike and up to Winter Hill again on a 10 mile round trip to finish off the day.
It was here I had my realisation that my 29er+ with it’s Rohloff geared hub and rigid forks, although a fantastic long distance bike that can climb well and descend fast, but with the babies heads sized rocks you really need a full suspension bike for these trails, although I did smile to myself when passing the bottom of the “dog kennels” descent where I saw 3 riders on full suspension bikes pushing down the steep trail that I rode earlier without problems.
So, if you want a comfortable, reliable, long distance, non technical bike to cover hills and dale with, the Rudy Fat/Angus 29er+ is for you, if you want a technical descended that roles over very rocky ground then either get a full suspension bike or a better pilot.