World cycling supremo Eddy Merckx would have been proud of my latest efforts on a two wheeler!
In my teens I was a big follower of the Belgian bike racer, said to be the greatest pro-cyclist ever, having won the Tour de France five times, as well as a host of other cycling competitions. And I remember well whistling down the lanes of Cliviger on my Eddy Merckx custom made bike.
These days cycling is of the most popular sports around, with Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy attracting followers of all ages. So I was itching at the chance to jump on my bike once more, especially when my seven-year-old son Ruaridh challenged me to test out the impressive Hurstwood Mountain Bike Trail, which runs close to the reservoir near Worsthorne.
Its been open a few years after Lancashire County Council and United Utilities teamed up to transform the area into a haven for outdoor pursuits. And now Ruaridh can ride his bike in style, the next step was a bit of danger and trying out some off road cycling.
And what fun we had! The trail is a great one for novices especially as its short, but there are plenty of twists and turns to give you a chance to improve your skills. And Burnley Borough Council’s Sports and Development Unit regularly hold classes to teach groups of young people the skills they need to enjoy mountain biking.
The trail also gave Ruaridh and I a chance to test out a Thule bike rack, a must for transporting the trusty machines to and from the trail.
We tested out a Thule ProRide 591, one of the best on the market for carrying bikes up to 20kg on your roof. The sleek frame holder and wheel tray make sure the bike is held on tight to allow you to drive normally with it on your roof. And contrary to rumours, you don’t use more petrol when transporting! It comes with easy to follow instructions and an online video guide is available if you get stuck.
The carrier sits on top of Thule wing bar edges which are slim and silent, so much so that you don’t realise the bike is above you as you drive. And there is an all important security lock to keep everything safe. The carriers are designed so up to four bikes can go on a normal car roof.
Thule was established in Sweden in 1942 and like everything Scandinavian ,its products ooze class! As well as bike racks, Thule produces carriers for winter and water sports and has a range of accessories and bike seats too for smaller children.
The new Thule Chasm Duffel bag is ideal for cyclists out and about, with removable back pack straps so you can use it if you leave your bike to go on a hike. The bags are weather resistant and generous in size, meaning all those essentials can go on board your bike.
And with stunning views, such as those at Hurstwood to capture, you need your camera kept safe. Thule has a range of bags with the backpack style bags ideal for putting all your bits of equipment in, before securely putting on your back as you take off.
Ruaridh and I spent hours down at Hurstwood perfecting our skills and with the right gear and a bit of skill we managed to improve on each go, keeping it tighter and faster, so much so that we were smashing our time records on every go!
Infact we are now hooked on cycling so much that we will be whizzing down to get a glimpse of this year’s Tour de France when the second stage from York to Sheffield passes through the hills of Hebden Bridge on July 6th, but we might just use the bike carrier to get home!
Hurstwood Mountain Bike Trail, Burnley, www.pmba.org.uk/Hurstwood.htm
Bike carriers and accessories are a must to get you around. Check out www.thule.com for the latest gear and prices.