The plan was for Gary Palmer and myself to carry out a recce of this route for future MBSwindon club ride from Nailsworth to Dursley via the North Nibley trails. I’d already started the mission on the day of my unplanned duathlon. The original route inspiration had been stolen from “Cotswold Mountain Bike Rides” by Tom Fenton but adjusted a bit to suit my tastes.
After the 2 x 5 gear fiasco the previous Sunday on the Red Kite quarry tour I’d bought myself a shiny new cassette from Noahs Ark Cycles. I started pedalling at 9:30am and warmed up with a blast along the dismantled Nailsworth railway line. Gary was ready and waiting for me and we got stuck into the steep climb out of Nailsworth. He pointed to my front light and laughed. I’m not sure he fully appreciated that was officially an epic ride.
It was all familiar ground for me as we nipped along the path in the woods, through the bomb holes and descended to Avening. On the bridleway near Chavenage I thought “I’ve got a lot of speed here. When I hit that muddy rut then the last thing I want to do is get it wrong and fall off”. When I hit the muddy rut the wheel wandered into the side, started to slip and I took a side exit off the bike directly to the ground. I think the glare from the low sun stopped me from looking ahead properly and, as Gary said, “I thought myself into falling off”.
The day had started off crisp with a slight frost and the low sun looked like it might warm things up a bit. We both agreed that a single word to describe conditions was “cold”. We worked out why when we cycled past a lake in Ozleworth park that was still frozen over at midday.
A few road links took us round the proper riding near Ozleworth. The route was planned to go up and down every bit of trail available as Gary soon found out. The descent towards Wotton was a bit of a bog fest but the trails around North Nibley were worthy of future investigation. I had a short session jumping off a big rock at the top of bridleway. I know this well – a work colleague went over the bars at this spot. I strongly remember the rifle crack sound that his wrist made as he hit the ground.
There were some warning signs saying that a footpath had been closed. We found out why when we were half way down the bridleway – there had been a large landslide and a section of footpath was no longer on the hillside along with some displaced trees and rocks.
I opted for the short, sharp shock road climb up to Stinchcombe golf course. The descent into Dursley didn’t last long and we definitely need to go back and investigate the sneaky trails there. Gary sabotaged his bike so he could have a rest at this point. His 29″ tubeless tyre had lost interest in sealing so we fitted an inner tube or two. It was 3pm and the light was starting to fade. The air temperature dropped with it. It was a relief to start pedalling again once we had air in the tyre.
The pointless loop round Uley hill fort added in a great descent that I’d recently used on the Nailsworth it ride. A steep road climb in the twilight took us to the highest point from which it was all downhill. Gary was lacking a front light so the route was adjusted with a hope that we could make with some light remaining. Gary tucked in close behind on the fast descent to Nailsworth, a triumph of trust and hope. I think he forgot his risk assessment form for that one.
This did mean that a singletrack descent was missed out. I’ve done it before though and will be doing it again soon.I finished off with a brisk ride along the cycle track to home.
We will be doing the full route sometime in spring 2014. Keep an eye on the MBSwindon events page.