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A Tale of Two Punctures - mountainbiker 009

A Tale of Two Punctures

It started on a v. cold Saturday morning (-2) with Ade from UK Mountain Biker coming over for a blast around one of my local routes in the Melbourne area south of Derby. We had planned the route on his Satmap the night before at circa 20km, with not too many climbs and an estimated ride time of two hours……We layered up and mounted our bikes, me on the trusty Specialized Rockhopper (a year old and coping with everything thrown at it so far) and Ade on his new Cube, (a Christmas present from his lovely wife) knowing the route was mostly cross-country with no gnarley bits and most suited to hardtails.

Heading out from Chellaston on the A514 towards Melbourne, we turned off left towards Weston-on-Trent and after approximately a mile on the undulating road overlooking the canal we turned onto the old railway line (part of National Cycle Network Route No. 6). This was a good steady start to get the legs warmed up, although the fingers and toes were still numbed by the cold.

Coming off the track (excuse the pun) at King’s Newton, we headed back on the road for a couple of miles before finding the farm track that took us to the top corner of Robin Wood. There followed a short, but steep and loose downhill section that is the usual fitness test when attempted in the opposite direction. Out of the woods and up the field on the other side we rode a short section of road before joining a narrow path that then leads to what is usually a muddy road section. However with the recent cold weather this was frozen hard, as if riding during the summer, although the cracking of ice under the tyres reminded us of the cold water to avoid when dabbing down.

We cut alongside a frozen pond and came out of the woods before crossing a couple of fields towards Stanton’s Woods. It was at this point that the seat post clamp on Ade’s bike started to fail (note to Cube – make them a bit more robust !!) leading to some frustrating stop / start progress. We eventually came back onto the road to climb out of Ticknall towards Melbourne with a view towards Staunton Harold Reservoir.

At the next road junction we turned off left onto another track and passed through a farm before some more cross-country riding to St Brides. After going astray from the pre-planned route – the Satmap quickly showed our trail divergence, we crossed a road onto another farm track leading back into the top of Robin Wood. There followed a blast down a gravel fire road and this is when the fun started….

Recent explorations of the woods had found some ‘off-piste’ sections that had previously been worked into several short downhill runs (note to Forestry Commission – we can find the manpower if they fund the shovels and a few beers !!). We explored one section before tracking back up hill to try to find the longest run possible. Having turned at the top of a slightly muddy track, I suggested we would be able to skim across the top of the frozen wet sections, only to come to a grinding holt myself in six inches of water. Having turned to warn Ade from my route, he went the other way and promptly planted his front wheel and went over the bars into the cold mud….oops!

We persevered down the rest of the route and skidded in the leaves at the bottom to avoid shooting into the bushes. After a short breather we started off on the return route only to find that I had copped a punctured rear tyre courtesy of a rather large thorn. After a quick change (thanks to Ade for the spare tube) during which Ade was boasting at not having ever had a puncture, we started off again, only to find that Ade had a front puncture !

Having completed our repairs, we dropped out the bottom of Robin Wood and up the short hill we had climbed earlier. Back on the roads for the return to Chellaston and a hot drink we completed the ride at a total of 25km in two hours and forty five minutes, although an hour of that time had been spent completing repairs !

Altogether this short but scenic cross-country ride is good for a bash on a Sunday morning, although the bridleways are popular with walkers and horses from local farms and stables. The route can be extended by another 10-15km by linking in routes from Seven Spouts farm towards Milton and even upto the gravel track adjacent Foremark reservoir.

Stu Bates - Chellaston, Derby