We planned to go a bit further afield for our Wednesday evening ride this week as I have done Darwen to death lately both riding and running and there was a 5 mile running race on at Rivington. I did consider doing the race, its part of Horwich RMI's Jubilee series but as I'm already doing the Club's Wednesday night 4 mile series over the summer I don't want to sacrifice all my Wednesdays to running. I may still do one of them over the summer as I want to do a few road races of different lengths this year and hopefully get faster. The course itself doesn't interfere with our riding but trying to get parked at Riv when its on is just an absolute nightmare.
So after a flurry of e-mails on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning it ended up just being Stu and I who were up for it and I suggested a loop out of Worsthorne (cos I know how to get there!). Conditions were warmish and I was wearing summer kit but as usual it was a couple of degree colder at Worsthorne and the arm warmers made an immediate appearance. There was a pretty strong Easterly headwind blowing which made things unecessarily hard as we set off up the Gorple Road. My hamstrings are still feeling it a bit from Mondays long trail run and the pummelling Alan gave them at my sports massage session on Tuesday but they settled down. After climbing against the wind for the three miles (much more fun heading the other direction) to the top of the descent to Widdop reservoir we then started the drop into Widdop. As the trails were so dry all the loose stones and boulders at the top of the descent were very entertaining to ride on. I feel my bike handling skills have fallen off a little due to my lack of bike time and I was skating around all over the place at the top of this descent, it felt like riding on ball bearings and I just had to let the bike go where it wanted, which was everywhere. A couple of tight sketchy switchbacks later and the descent opens up and I catch up with Stu. Stu then proceeds to tell me about how he nearly lost it on the top of the descent so it wasn't just me!
The rest of the ride passed without such problems, the dry conditions making for fast progress. On reaching the road we got blown back to the Long Causeway which was great. The windmills were whirring round with gay abandon due to all the wind, I still feel a little worried passing windmills in case one of the propellers shears off.... All that remained was to head back to the car. The only problem with doing the loop in this direction is that whilst you gain by not having to do the climb up from Widdop you lose out on the three mile descent of the Gorple road back to the car, however I think with the Easterly wind and the very dry trail condtions the Gorple road descent would be so fast as to be frightening.
In short, this is a good loop but it is more challenging in the anti-clockwise direction. Its a good one to head out on of an evening for a bit of variety. I took the Garmin with me and just left it in the Camelbak, it lost the heart rate trace at some point but has logged the route ok.
Length: 17.45 miles Ride Time: 2:15 Faff Time: 15 minutes (not bad, not bad).