After work Hills…
On Monday I found myself finishing my work day in Malvern, and by happy coincidence I had travelled past home to get there and called in to grab my bike. Despite living in Worcestershire for all of my *cough* years I have only been on the Malvern Hills once, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to briefly explore part of it on two wheels.
The first thing was finding a parking spot, the only car park I knew about was North Quarry Car Park, however this gets very busy and at £4.20 I didn’t have enough change and didn’t fancy a ticket. I explored further round and stumbled on West of England Car Park which has had the ticket machine removed (probably temporarily) and it was empty, ideal as I needed to get changed in the car!
After kitting up and de-mounting my bike from the car I wondered which of the several paths to take – the least steep one was my obvious choice! After a couple of turns appeared a sign pointing up a single track towards ‘The Beacon‘ knowing that his was the peak I was heading for I set off up the narrow track, soon out of the tree line the views over Herefordshire were stunning, however the track began to climb and my lack of winter training soon won over and my head ever so slightly hanging in shame, I was off the bike and pushing up the last stretch.
Far from being the easy option, pushing a bike uphill uses different muscles from riding it, but the lungs work just as hard (at least in my case) and I was soon puffing and panting with my calf muscles screaming at me! Just as I thought I couldn’t take another step the track met up with a gentler main trail heading towards the summit, chance for a quick drink and a photo, then off again, this time actually riding my bike!
Rounding the last bend toward the Beacon I was met head on with strong winds and coming from the North it was COLD, but it was the highest point of the Malverns at 425m and the views are pretty impressive so I made time to stop and take a couple of snaps. North and South you look across the rest of the range with the Myriad of paths and tracks criss-crossing the Hills and Valleys, to the East Worcestershire and the West Herefordshire and on to Wales, it is possible on a clear day to view parts of 13 Counties from this point. However the wind was biting through my meagre layers so it was time to get moving again.
I picked a likely looking trail down towards North Hill and soon picked up the Lady Howard de Walden Drive which circumnavigates North Hill and Table Hill and is gentler riding, it is a hard-packed trail, well maintained and suitable for less able visitors so not too steep. Once around Table Hill I veered off up a steeper section towards the Sugar Loaf before dropping back down and picking a climb back towards the Beacon. I selected a reasonably steep looking single track which steepened towards the top before opening out to a grass incline where once again I was beaten and had to push the last 30m, my shame was at this point compounded at being overtaken by a jogger!
Meeting up with the main path again I forwent another visit to the summit and headed Westwards, finding the track I had previously pushed up I dropped my saddle and made the descent back towards the car park, using my breaks to full effect which felt somewhat spongy and with a lot of travel and noise, I guess new pads will be required, certainly before the Alps! Arriving back at the car park feeling tired, refreshed and pretty pleased at my first ever bike ride in the Malverns – a quick check on Strava to see my statistics revealed… NOTHING… Strava hadn’t recorded! Annoyingly my Samsung will not record GPS when in battery saving mode and I had forgotten to turn it off before setting Strava recording, balls! On arriving home, I entered the route manually on Strava only to find that all my effort and panting and pushing had resulted in only 3.8miles, although I had packed in nearly 1000ft of climbing too.
All in all it was very enjoyable taster of what Malvern has to offer, it is not a huge area for riding with the whole range of Hills measuring 13km from end to end, but I would certainly go back for another visit, the views make it very well worth it! The other revelation from this ride is that I found my wrists aching quite regularly due to having very flat handlebars, so I guess a little retail therapy is due,
not forgetting the all important brake pads – Chain Reaction Cycles, here I come…
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