An unexpected beautiful day coincided with an unexpected morning off family duties yesterday, and it wasn’t difficult to decide what to do. It was quiet for a sunny bank holiday weekend, and the few walkers I did encounter were mostly in a summery mood, happy to let me past and haul their dogs out of the way. After a familiar start I headed into a small wood which, I had heard, was the site of some digging activity. Sure enough, in between the bluebells I found gap jumps, hips and drops, clearly well used and well cared for. The features were a bit big for me to be confident trying them on my own, so I rode past, but I’ll be dragging some mates out here for a play as soon as possible.On the other side of the wood I emerged onto a long, quiet track which will serve nicely to link up a few sections that otherwise require long, boring tarmac drags; the morning’s explorations had been very successful. I moved back to familiar trails with the drop down Back Lane into the Holme valley, a good kilometre of entertaining, rocky singletrack without another soul in sight. I picked my way through the busy traffic in the middle of Holmfirth, and then hauled myself up the sharp kick of Rotcher onto Cartworth Moor. Next came the fast, rocky fun of flying down Ramsden Road, only slowing once for a family making their way up. Ramsden Road often has a convoy of 4x4s climbing up it, tearing the track apart, but it was quiet this morning with just three or four other cyclists and the aforementioned walkers, so I got to let go of the brakes and see how fast I could make myself go.
Making my way across from Yateholm to Digley the roads started to get busy, with trains of motorcyclists and the odd roadie coughing in their wake. The climb up the other side of the valley, Springs Road, had a smattering grumpier walkers, proper red-socks intent on messing with their map cases and walking poles, and I had to turn the politeness up considerably to get a couple of them to acknowledge my presence and allow me to pass. Or perhaps it was because the morning was turning into midday, and the early morning good humour had evaporated in the glare of the sun and pre-lunchtime hunger. Whatever the reason, I was wavering in my intentions for the next section of ride, a cheeky stretch of footpath, usually quiet but likely to be busy on a sunny bank-holiday weekend. My indecision led to disaster. I changed my mind repeatedly on the way down Wessenden, finally deciding to go for it at the last possible moment. Unfortunately, my choice to turn left coincided with my front wheel being in a gravely, off-camber rain gully, the tyre lost traction and I crashed to the ground. A nearby dog-walker completely ignored me. I got up, dusted myself off, noted that the blood coming from my knee wasn’t flowing too copiously, and decided, on reflection, that I should probably call it a day. Insult to injury as I rolled back into the village: a strange grinding noise that had grown worse as the ride progressed turned out to be a collapsed pedal bearing. In spite of a frustrating ending, though, it was a brilliant ride overall, and I hope summer this year throws a few more days like this our way.