Category Archives: Rides

Gisburn Forest – Playing Out

Sunday’s Road Trip

A few weeks ago there had been good intentions expressed by around 8 riders from work.  When the end of last week came, it was clear that 4 hardcore, reliable chaps would be making the trip.  On Saturday, following a disappointing performance by his football team, one of those chaps drowned his sorrows and his chances of riding on Sunday along with them.  So…. I picked up Chris on Sunday morning and we met Russ an hour later at the car park where the Gisburn Forest rides start!

We three musketeers set off and by 2/3 of the way up the first climb it was clear that I was the unfit one.  Chugging a fruit bar immediately we’d set off to make sure I didn’t go hypo (curse you, Diabetes) didn’t help, as my stomach closed around it and threatened to have me hurling whilst I waited for my heart rate to return to normal within a mile or so of setting off!  However, things got better and over the next 3-and-a-bit hours I had a bloody great time.  Russ bailed halfway round because he needed to travel to London that night, so Chris and I completed the Red Route loop with just each other for company.

Best & Worst Bits

There are some long, hard climbs in the forest.  It’s not nice that the route begins with a long, hard (for me) climb and I can remember wondering if I was going to enjoy the day.  However, those climbs give way to brilliant lengths of singletrack!  Over Winter 2009/10 there’s been a fair amount of trail-building and it shows: the Red Route deviations from the main loops are fantastic fun.  My Focus Fat Boy hardtail and Chris’ ancient fixed rig coped with the terrain, but a short travel full-bouncer might have made things a little easier.  In fact, some of the funniest moments were simply listening to the sounds Chris involuntarily made on some of the less-expected drop-offs!

I fell twice.  Both times, it was because I was going too slowly, not too quick.  Lesson learned.  I bailed on two drop-offs, with a squeal of brakes and an unrepeatable exclamation along the lines of “I’m not going off that ****ing thing!”.  However, the whole day was brilliant and we swept along the vast majority of the route with silly grins on our faces, no doubt catching flies in our teeth – in fact, I’m sure Chris had one stuck in his throat when we finished.  The cuppa from the butty van in the car park sorted that out though!

If you get a chance to spend a day there, do it! Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

A map on MapMyRide is here, too:

Lee Quarry Mountain Biking

This is my first blog update for a little while as I’ve been off on a late Easter break. It’s been fun and has involved barbecues; family reunions; baptisms and seaside days out among other things – we can cram a lot into a week!

Mountain Biking at Lee Quarry

But this entry is about the rather wonderful place they call Lee Quarry.  On Monday, Number One Son and I threw our bikes in the back of the car and headed just outside Bacup for the afternoon.  On arrival, our first thought was “Ooooh, pants” as the hill up to the entrance from the car park is a bit of a doozy.  Nevertheless, we trudged up, rode a bit, trudged a bit more and got to the trails.  We weren’t disappointed!

As you can see on the Google Earth map, we only did about 1/3 of the quarry.  We should have taken a map really!  The quarry is brilliant: an alien moonscape reminiscent of 70’s Doctor Who sets without the Daleks, but 70’s Daleks would struggle with the killer gradients on some of the trails.  There are sections where you definitely have to get off and push/carry but hey, for every uphill there’s a down!

The trails are well marked and a lot of trail-building has been done over the winter.  There’s a new pump track which you can see in one of the photos above, and the skills area has been improved.  Parts of the red route run alongside the green and blue trails, which is excellent if (like me) you take your offspring along with you.

We had a fantastic couple of hours and we’ll certainly be going up there a few more times over the summer.  I’d go if I were you.  Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂

Here’s a short video of one the little technical sections.  I posted a couple of others on YouTube too if you fancy a glance:

Fruity? Nuts? You can get free ones here…

What a Great Bank Holiday Weekend!

Well, how was your Easter weekend?  The weather wasn’t fantastic but it was good enough to get a couple of leisurely hours playing out on the Fat Boy on Saturday, then another little circuit on Sunday.  The map for the longer jaunt is posted below, but the pick of the phone photos are here.  The hill shot is taken from just the wrong side of the huge motorway bridge that looks over Littleborough as you drive towards Yorkshire on the M62.

My First Graze Box

I got back to work today, to receive my first delivery from Graze.  These brilliant people send a box of healthy snacks, in the post, each week or as regularly as you like.  I’m going to use them as an alternative to the dustbin bags of choc-rice-crispy cakes and flapjacks that a colleague keeps bringing into work!

If you fancy trying them out – and I suggest that you should (fatty, ha ha) – go to and use the Promotion Code 56PVZBJN which will get you a free box, absolutely free, at no cost to you whatsoever.
I’m already tucking into the roasted seeds and they’re really tasty, not to mention packed with Vitamin E to boost my immune system.  Each box comes with 4 different snacks, taken from the feedback you put into the Graze website about what you like and what you’d rather not get.  It’s a brilliant little idea, done brilliantly, in my opinion.  A great big thanks to Toby who first put me onto them in his own blog.

Other Stuff

We got the front room painted over the weekend too, and I’m glad to say that the garden furniture has been taken out of the garage to mark the onset of Spring.  Although it hasn’t been sat at yet!

Here’s the map from Saturday’s ride:

Kingsway Business Park – For Gods Sake Come to Rochdale

Nice Ride, Shame About the Emptiness

Last weekend, we had a family ride around the bike paths that encircle and crisscross Kingsway Business Park, which is apparently

one of the biggest, highest quality and most strategically important new commercial property developments of its kind in the UK.

This quote, of course, is taken the official website of the development.  In truth (and this is just my opinion for legal reasons) the development is a sad white elephant and a shameful reflection of how bad governance can render a fantastic idea useless.

On the one hand, you’d think that combining the North West Regional Development Agency, Rochdale Council, Rochdale Development Agency and private developers would be a powerful mix.  On the other hand, a committee approach to the development seems to have produced a vast, flattened landscape bisected by excellent roads and wonderful cycle paths.  The vital ingredient seems to be missing…

Where Are The Bloody Businesses?

From what I can gather, planning the Business Park took years longer than was anticipated.  Throughout 20 years of a constantly-growing economy, Rochdale Councillors and regional groups debated the best way of moving the development forwards.  Years passed.  Tree-hugging sandal-wearers fought the cause for the local wildlife because, seemingly, the poorly-draining farmland was a haven for some creatures that liked living in boggy fields.  Years passed…

Then, eventually, work began.  Roads were built.  houses were bulldozed.  Listed buildings were compulsoriuly purchased at great expense.  The one which was earmarked to be the new pub in the middle of the Business Park was, last weekend, partially burnt down by vandals because of course it’s still empty.

Then, with perfectly ironic timing, the economy crashed.  Businesses either stopped expanding, or reined-in spending either to protect themselves from the new risks, or because they couldn’t get mortgages against new property.  Foreign businesses stopped looking to move into the UK… the global business outlook grew dim.  Kingsway Business Park was all dressed up, with nowhere to go and almost nobody to move in.

Green Shoots

In fairness, there’s a small cluster of a few buildings alongside the motorway at the Minrow end of the development.  I sincerely hope we’ll see someone else move in soon.  It’s strangely saddening to be able to enjoy quiet cycle paths intersecting the former farmland between Milnrow and Oldham Road: an expanse of short grass and compacted rubble where formerly cattle roamed and houses stood.

For once, I’m not that grateful for the unbroken great outdoors.  Rochdale needs the jobs; our kids need the prospects.

Road To Nowhere?

But for now, my kids love the traffic-free fun and openness.  Every cloud, I suppose….

Goodbye Old Friend

A New Life For My Old Haro

My beloved Haro Escape 7.0 2000 - off to pastures new

Goodbye Old Friend – You’ll be Sorely Missed

It is with some regret that I’ll be rehoming my Haro tonight.  After almost 10 years of loyal service including two Manchester to Blackpools and two Over the Edges, my trusty chrome and blue steed is being collected later to be given a new life in the moors just outside Rochdale.

With forks showing their age; a front mech devoid of fine adjustment capbility due to too many times crammed into sheds and squeezed onto bike racks; untrue-able wheels and an ageing bottom bracket, it’s definitely time that she was put out to grass.

Her new owner has promised her lots of fresh air, good clean mud and a new life as a single speed fixed fork hack.  I think she’s going to love it.  I just hope Jon doesn’t break her as often as he seems to break his main ride!  Oh and Jon, don’t forget to fit a saddle or you’ll be redefining the term “fun bike” 😉

Goodbye Old Friend.  Enjoy your new life in the hills.

*sob, sob, sniff*

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