Psychology and riding.

Cycling is a physical thing, right? Well yes, you need to be able to crank those pedals round but it’s not always enough. I haven’t been able to ride for 6 days, which is unusual for me but today I had the chance so thought I’d do a trail ride rather than chasing a time on a ride or segment. I fancied the fantastic downhill section in Brinscal Woods but getting there and back means I have to ride the highly technical sections from White Coppice to the woods and returning later. If you’ve read my previous posts about this route you’ll know that it is a target that I set myself at the start of the year to ride there and back without stopping or putting a foot down. I’ve had a good few tries but been unable to do it so far.

Like so many things in life it’s a hard challenge but when you’ve done it once it seems to get much easier. I rode the mixed road/off road ride to White Coppice and felt strangely relaxed as I approached the first leg of the challenge. I’ve been riding it fairly consistently and worked hard on the tricky parts to get to the woods with no problem.

I then did a circuit up the steep fire road then up on to the moor where a gravel road takes you to the gorgeous downhill.

The first picture shows the view towards the woods. The second is the view over the city of Preston. Preston is famous for the Guild, which has been held since the 12th century. It was an event to encourage and license merchants within the town and is the only guild of its type still in existence. Now it is also a festival with music and other arts. Its held only  every 20 years so the term “once a Preston Guild” refers to any event which is really infrequent. I’ve missed the last 2 guilds but did visit in 1972 on a school trip! The third picture looks towards Houghton Tower. It is alleged that King James 1st knighted a particularly tasty loin of beef in 1617 with the words “Arise Sir Loin”. This is said to be where the name of sirloin steak comes from. There are other theories to explain the name but I like this romantic one with its local connection.

Up the moor and the downhill didn’t disappoint. It starts with rocky and rutted single track down to the woods then a tortuous decent with an ever varying surface. Some big drop offs have developed under tree roots where the soil has eroded away. Its for experienced and confident riders only. Psychology comes into the ride again. You have to believe that you won’t be catapulted over the handlebars! A modern bike with front and rear suspension, a longer wheelbase and generally lower riding position is a big help, as well.

Back on the technical section which I’ve yet to ride this year and I tried to keep the belief up. I made the first steep part and rode on to the hardest part of all. I’ve been allowing the bike to drift to the right rather than hitting the big roots head on but this technique has failed me so I determinedly rode at the roots and powered up them. Success! Well nearly. A final root as I exited the section caught my back wheel and made me dab the ground with my left foot. I could have pretended that didn’t happen but I intend to be completely honest. I’d hate to have to make a final, possibly drunken confession at the end of the year that I hadn’t actually done it! I think next time, imbued with confidence, I’ll make it.

I came back over Healey Nab and took the picture at the top of the page at the trail head where the red and black graded segments both start. It was a good ride which has helped me to realise that the so far unconquered section is possible. A psychological boost for me!

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