Yesterday I took my riding buddy – our dog – with me for a long overdue ride in the forest.
Having parked the car up the road from the Oak Quarry council rubbish depot I spent a few minutes getting the bike ready, setting two apps going on my phone (my usual Endomondo and trying Viewranger for the first time) and setting the GoPro camera recording and then we were off, much to my four-legged companion’s obvious excitement!
We headed left into the woods, making an arc along the edge of Broadwell, past the back of the houses, and under cover of trees towards the entrance to Worcester Lodge, following some helpful yellow arrows on the occasional tree here and there.
Then, having skirted the edges of the lodges, we passed between another couple of marked trees which took us onto what I presume to be an unofficial MTB track leading to the fire road that runs from the back of the aforementioned rubbish tip.
So far I had been firmly in second place behind the dog who was rocketing along and seemed to know without looking whether I was speeding up or slowing down and also which path to take whenever we got to any kind of junction. Arriving at the fire road we plunged straight on across it and onto a downhill section that lead, zig-zag style, down to near the local trail centre at Pedalabikeaway.
I had walked up the track from the bottom during a walk with the dog the previous day and thought it seemed not to be too much of a stretch for me, skill-wise. Well, the long absence from the saddle shone through brightly as I followed the dog hurtling down the side of the hill and suddenly found myself sliding sideways along the ground! Not quite as simple a task as I had hoped, clearly.
Having got up and dusted myself down, whilst the dog watched somewhat impatiently, we set off again only to be derailed once more within a few hundred yards when my chain decided it was time to leap off the chain ring and give me another brief breather!
Soon, however, we made it down to a track that runs between the centre at Pedalabikeaway and Speech House Road and, not wanting to head down to the café just yet, decided to ride in the direction of Speech House Road before making a left turn towards a fire road that runs from New Road and then, having reached said fire road, going off-road again.
Having navigated our way up through what may possibly be an old disused quarry yard we reached the skills area just before the car park at Pedalabikeaway, had a quick blast round that and then it was time for a rest at the café.
Despite the lovely weather, things were very quiet so we were rather spoilt for choice in terms of tables and benches. A nice mug of coffee and a Nakd bar for me, and water and treats for the dog who sat sunning herself on the bench next to me, no doubt wondering why I wasn’t sharing my bar with her.
Refreshed, we set of through the car park and headed onto the fire road towards the various official bike tracks. Passing a wooden bridge section of the Freeminers’ Trail we had a go at the North Shore section before getting back onto the fire road towards Sallowvalets Enclosure.
It was at this point that the GoPro decided to turn itself off. Confused, as we’d only been on the move for around an hour, I had a look and realised that the SD card was full. At the time I presumed that I had neglected to delete old videos from the camera.
When I got home later, however, I discovered that I had somehow managed to set the thing to take still photographs instead of recording video. As a result I had around five thousand photos of our trip up to that point. Don’t want to make that mistake again!
A little further on we joined onto the Verderers’ Trail and travelled along that for quite some time until we got back onto the fire roads by the Beechenhurst Trail. We stayed on the fire road then as it gradually took us back to the car via the back of the rubbish tip, crossing our earlier path.
Reviewing the data from the two apps later on, once we’d returned home, I noticed that there were some distinct differences. Endomondo claimed that we’d travelled for 9.44 miles in 93 minutes, whilst Viewranger stated 8.97 miles in 101 minutes. I have no idea why this should be, since both apps were started and stopped within a few seconds of each other – and both maps look pretty similar to me!
Regardless, I know that both the dog and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was hard going at times, being currently somewhat out of shape, and there were certainly times when I had to use lower gears that I would normally expect to and also times when the leg muscles were really burning!
When I did pick up some speed, however, with the stats suggesting 25 miles per hour being the peak, I was amazed to find that at no point did the dog get left behind. She kept pace next to me at those times, and was ahead for the vast majority of the ride – excellent work! Looking forward to the next ride now…