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:

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10 comments on “Gisburn Forest – Playing Out

  1. Chris

    Some of the involuntarily noises made where from my voice box bouncing around and twanging against my throat as my front wheel fell beneath me as tree roots hid the lack of ground when we flying down the hills.

  2. Phill

    Quite! It did make me smile to hear the occasional “Unhh!” on the rooty sections 🙂
    Does that make me a bad person?

  3. Les

    Phill that looks awesome well impressed , some of them climbs must av bin hard work mate. Looks good fun, pics r good the one I like the best is u avin ure cuppa with look of satisfaction and achievement on ure boat race (face) well done mate

  4. Lost

    The simplest way to describe the post and ride would be one word – awesome!

  5. jobysp


    I have three wonderful photos from your trip and none of them are on display – gutted.

  6. Phill

    Les and Lost: Thank you! It was a brilliant day.
    Joby: I might devote a post to the Sawley photos 🙂 Or if anyone can’t wait, they’re on Facebook.

  7. Clive Chapman


    Great story, great photos, great day! Looks like a nice little locale you have there.

    Mountainbiking rocks doesn’t it! 🙂

  8. Phill

    Cheers Clive! Yes, mountainbiking rocks, but some of the rocks at Gisburn don’t: I was a bit scared more than a couple of times!

    Gisburn’s about 45 minutes drive from home, so yeah we’re very lucky Oop North. Lee & Cragg Quarries are round the corner, more or less and there’s Rivington too for a future trip this summer. We’re pretty fortunate.

  9. Lost

    Rivington is great. Was last there in september last year. Rode out with my club, stopped off at the Great Barn, then rode through the forest before riding home. So wanna do that again soon.

    Trio rides the mtb trails there too – she lives close so she’s lucky on that one 🙂

  10. Pingback: Pfffffft! Blame The Almighty. « Phills Irregular Cycles

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