Sunday just past Ed and I headed out on offroad on a great loop neither of us have done for ages, effectively a half MTL route. Starting from Clowbridge Res, picking up the MTL for a while until on Deerplay, past Thieveley Pike and down to the Bacup Road, over that then heading through the post industrial landscape towards Ramsden Clough on some interesting bridleways, pick up the MTL around Whitworth again and a pretty much follow it all the way back, with a diversion into the new stuff at Cragg on the way.
Set off into fairly persistent rain and low cloud, the surface easy going due to being MTL and still pretty dry. Once off the MTL and particularly over the Bacup Road find actual boggish tracks for a while, it's a grassy slog generally but I've seen it a lot worse. We once did this route in the winter into a raging headwind, it took us three hours to go 12 miles due to the wind and soft tracks. The bike was actually good and filthy for the first time in ages.
Anyway, skittered down a short, steepish, grassy slope and got bogged down in some rocks. The track was raised, with a drop to either side. I did think about getting going again then thought better of it, got off the bike at the edge of the narrow section to push it on a bit. I'm not sure what happened exactly but as I pushed the bike it sort of fell over onto me, I obviously wasn't very well balanced and I just timbered right over like a sack of spuds off the side of the track, bike landing on top of me. Unfortunately it was onto:
Right onto that big pile of pointy rocks, track is on the left. It wasn't quite onto my back but almost and not surprisingly it really hurt. Due to the Titus being on top of me I couldn't actually move, fortunately a very concerned Ed picked the bike up off me and I got up. Nothing was broken (probably) so decided to get riding asap, usually the best thing to do, keep moving so it doesn't seize up. This was about 7 miles into what in the end was a 30 mile ride.
I can normally tell by the state of my riding how bad a "crash" was (not that I can call it a crash), it quickly became clear that the last thing I wanted to do was fall off again and add to the pain...you can imagine how and tense wussy my riding became, I had to shout at myself, a lot to get off the brakes and look ahead etc. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to cut the ride short and try to head back to the car but it didn't. I was actually enjoying being out in the mud and rain, I thought the pain would ease off...it didn't.
The long drag up Rooley Moor Road was a complete miseryfest for me again, legs were fine (apart from the huge throbbing bruise above my left knee) but my lower back had gotten progressively more sore and stiff. I stood up once in an effort to stretch it and it felt like someone had knifed me in the back, I'm sure I saw stars briefly. The sun had also decided to come out especially for the climb and for once the Rooley Moor headwind was missing just to add to my overall misery.
By the time we got to Cragg it hurt the least sitting and pedalling steadily, standing pedalling was excruciating, standing without pedalling was a bit less excruciating but the worst thing was transitioning from not pedalling to pedalling, particularly if spinning madly due to too low a gear choice. I basically yelped and grimaced my way all around the fab Cragg trails (and they were good) but I was in no fit state to do much other than hang on and pedal a bit (as low cadence as possible). We decided against another lap!
By this time any lumps and bumps on the trail seemed to vibrate up into my back, I was on a full-suspension, I hate to think what the hardtail would have been like. The descent down to Waterfoot, normally a favourite, passed slowly in a blur of clenched teeth and whimpers. Thankfully, the rest of the route is fairly easyish going but getting on and off for gates really hurt, particularly when my Camelbak re-settled itself on my back. We finally got back to Clowbridge, total relief! Except I had forgotten about the last two flights of wooden steps down into the car park, it was like someone attacked my back with a pneumatic drill as I rattled down them, there were tears at that point.
Getting packed up was interesting, my ability to bend was almost zero and getting out of the car at the other end was painful.
Having said all that it was a good ride, really like that loop!