Along with the inevitable hazards and irritations of life on a bike, one of the great compensations is the joy of a good descent. The two I feature here are quite long and, if taken at the right time of day, usually deserted.
The first is the drop on Rookery Lane, Hints, Staffordshire, heading down the steep valley to where the road fords the Black Brook. This is a private road, and carries very little traffic, but is covered as a bridleway in law, so cyclists are free to use it. Building speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, the run was a challenge on the day I filmed it due to wet, greasy conditions exacerbated by decomposing leaf litter. In better weather, the ford is often dry, but after a day’s heavy rain it was flowing well. I finish on the pedestrian bridge that sits to the west of the road crossing.
Rookery Lane, Hints, Staffordshire. 5pm, Saturday, 26th February 2011.
The second burst of speed is on the purpose built cycle trail that runs between Marquis Drive Visitor Centre on Cannock Chase,and the visitor facilities at Birches Valley. This is a very long downhill, and on grey days in winter, hardly anyone uses it. There are still hazards, however, with loose shingle, piles of silt, other cyclists (often at oblique angles), pedestrians and their dogs. This journey is really good fun as the trail has been made with loads of sweeping curves.
Birches Valley, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. 5pm, Sunday, 20th February 2011.