MTB Ride – Testing Bike Along Cycleway/Towpath

Today was a big day – I finally got round to repairing my mountain bike (hereafter referred to as my MTB)! 🙂

It’s an 853 steel frame hardtail, with a pair of hefty, but comfy Marzocchi suspension forks, Hope disk brakes, and a USE shokpost to take the sting out of any bad knocks the back end gets. It’s not particularly light but it rides well and it has survived everything that I’ve put it through and I’m not light either! 😉

I was very negligent in my treatment of the MTB when I was last riding it. I didn’t clean it often enough, nor change the chains before they got too worn. As a result, it ended up needing a new cassette, new chainrings, new chain, and a new bottom bracket. I’ve been really hard-up over the past few years and the last couple of summers here have been really awful so I didn’t bother sorting out the MTB when the transmission wore out over a year ago.

I’ve missed my off-road riding. I usually do about 1 MTB ride for every 2 road rides. There are some great MTB routes round here and I’ve been looking forward to doing them again and reporting the rides here on the blog.

Anyway, enough of that… readers, meet my Rock Lobster!

Rock Lobster 853 steel hardtail MTB
Rock Lobster 853 steel hardtail MTB

My pal Lisa has been wanting to check out the Calder Valley Cycleway (CVC) through to Sowerby Bridge and beyond so we decided to ride out there to test my work on the bike. I have friends bringing their MTBs up to ride with me at the weekend so I wanted to make extra-sure that the bike is reliable.

After a short delay to take photographs of the bike, we set off along the CVC. Even before we got to the disused clog factory at Mytholmroyd, I could feel that the saddle wasn’t set up properly. I have Fizik Ariones on all of my bikes and I like to have the front section flat with the broad rear section slightly higher. I’d set the MTB saddle slightly ‘nose-up’ thinking that it would level out when the front suspension sagged with my weight on the bike. It didn’t sag that much! The upward slope of the saddle is fairly obvious looking at the photograph of the bike. A couple of minutes work with my trusty Crank Brothers multi-tool soon sorted that problem out.

We came off the Cycleway on the outskirts of Sowerby Bridge. I think it goes off up a steep hill to the right and Lisa isn’t really fit enough to ride up hills yet. We continued along a quiet road into the centre of Sowerby Bridge, arriving just as the rush hour started. It wasn’t pleasant riding there, so Lisa and I walked our bikes along to a set of traffic lights where we crossed the road and headed off back down to the canal towpath.

We set off along the towpath, not seeing signs saying ‘No Cycling’ – we only spotted them on the way back! There didn’t seem to be any particular reason why cyclists shouldn’t use that stretch of towpath. [PS Since the ride, I’ve been reading online that “negotiations with British Waterways to allow cycle access to sections of towpath are well under way”. There must be some legal matters to sort out, because in practice, all they need to do is to take down the No-cycling signs!]

We ended up at the end of the Hebble Trail Cycleway (HTC), a newly developed route into the heart of Halifax via a lovely secluded wooded valley. To the right, the Calder-Hebble Navigation heads off towards Elland.

We thought we’d take a look at the HTC and when we did, I was actually pretty impressed with it. It has recently been resurfaced and now has a good smooth tarmac surface, where once was mud. We didn’t follow the cycleway all the way into Halifax, but we did ride about a mile of it – very nice. There were quite a few families out walking their children and dogs, some joggers, and a fair few other cyclists. I can imagine this becoming a very popular route when it becomes better know. A lot of people don’t even know of its existence at the moment.

I do wonder about security though. There are lots of bushes and twists and turns where it would easy for ne’er-do-wells to lurk and leap out from. Let’s be positive – it’s a fine thing for the local council to invest in, and if there becomes a problem with security, then the police will have to deal with it!

One other point – some little housing estates have been shoe-horned into that valley, either side of the trail. We came whizzing along the path to a section of cobbles crossing it. There was no obvious indication that this was a road to the houses and several cars came round a bend at speed and crossed in front of us. I could see someone having problems there.

We’d done enough so we turned round and retraced our wheeltracks to Hebden Bridge. It had been a lovely sunny evening and our bikes behaved themselves. Lisa was feeling saddle-sore when we got back. I bought her some padded cycling undershorts a couple of years back, but she hadn’t been wearing them. She won’t make that mistake again! 😉

I should be reporting on some great local mountain biking this summer – watch this space!

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2 Responses to “MTB Ride – Testing Bike Along Cycleway/Towpath”

  1. I would love a steel Lobster!
    Care to swap for an Ultra-light Easton aluminium Rock Lobster?

  2. I’m pretty happy with it, so no thanks!

    Merlin are doing a 30% discount on the 853 frames at the moment. You can pick one up for about £210. Why not buy one, swap over all your parts, and try and sell your frame on eBay?

    I like the slim tubes on the Rock Lobster. I have slightly oversized steel tubes on my Basso, and huge oversized aluminium tubes on my Cannondale. It’s nice to have a bit of variety!

    I’d love to have Ti and carbon fibre bikes too, but I can’t afford them and don’t have the space.

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