Enjoying my training.

At the top of the page is the view from my bike as I was about to leave home. I thought I’d try to ride 10 laps at Coppull Mill as I did 10 days ago but this time in under 25 minutes. Last time I was lapping in around 2 minutes 45 seconds but thought that if the trail was a bit drier I could take off the necessary 15 seconds per lap. I walked my dog, Freddie, in  Duxbury woods this morning and realised that the ground was still quite wet. Before I set off I modified my plan to doing some “training” on the fabulous corners at Birkacre then heading to Coppull to do just 5 laps in 12 minutes 30. I put training in parenthesis because I’m not actually training for anything. I’m keeping fit and trying to get a cheap thrill by taking the bike to the limit of grip and speed. I can only liken the experience to achieving a zen like state whilst being chased by a wolf, giving you an all consuming impetus to go for it. I can enjoy nature from the saddle. You come up to animals quickly on a bike so sometimes see things which would have disappeared had you been on foot. There is, however, a massive amount of excitement in just riding at the limit. I do try to keep the danger in check,though.

I took the road to Duxbury woods and rode the steep trail to Eaves Green. Next came a Strava segment “Drop to Birky” where I hold the King of the Mountains title at 1 minute 24 seconds. Today I managed 1 minute 33 seconds taking the longer, alternative last part. This time has only been beaten by one second on one occasion, except by me! It was my 3rd best ever. At Birkacre I had no appetite to try to get the KOM on the climb to the top. I’m in second place now but will wait until drier conditions before I have another go. Instead I turned off half way up the climb to ride a series of three corners. I started to ride here regularly in 1992 and the corners still draw me back. It’s down hill into a right, then immediately a left and a sharper right with a drop in the middle. It’s a short climb back up to have another go. It would be valuable training for your cornering skills unless, like me, you’d rather test the limit on every curve. Risking a slide or running way off line rather than seeking perfection and railing the corners, with a disappointing lack of drama. At least I noticed that my body position was wrong at times, so at least I learned something. I was allowing my head to drop behind the handlebar stem position. By not having enough weight over the front wheel it was sliding unnecessarily. I tried to improve matters but was enjoying riding like a hooligan far too much to really care. After 7 rides around the 3 corner section I carried on to Coppull.

I wasn’t sure if the climb back to the top would be any better than it was 10 days ago but from the access track I turned left to start my first lap of 5. I was timing this on the stopwatch in case I had to stop for anything like a walker. I needn’t have worried, the area was deserted and the trail felt a little grippier. After one full lap I couldn’t push my glove back far enough to see the watch but at the bottom of the next descent I saw around 3 minutes 17 so thought I must be on track for 5 laps in  12 mins. 30. I took a few more risks to keep the speed up on subsequent laps and stopped looking at the time. On the last lap I turned sharply into the start and pedalled up to speed. A quick drop into the right hander and I ran wide on the exit, using the natural tiny banking to guide me round. The following left/right seemed to have plenty of grip. Maybe I had been too timid previously. I could feel the bike writhing over the slippery approach to a small rise. Over that and a small jump before twisting left and steeply down into a right hand berm. There seems to be no end of grip here so I was flying over the next jump. A few more undulations then a 10 foot drop down a steep slope. I’d become a bit concerned I was landing with too much weight on the front wheel so eased the bars up at the edge. The bike stayed level and didn’t touch the back wheel down until the very bottom of the slope. The front wheel made the whole drop before touching the ground again. Exciting. I flew around the last right before the climb and put a little more effort in to do the 5 laps in 11 minutes 57 seconds. I think I could have carried on for the next 5 at a similar pace but I’ll leave that for another occasion. My lap times were all quite similar and I didn’t drop below the 2 minute 30 target on any of them.

I went home via Birkacre and took a great down hill. A low hanging tree blocked my view of a tricky section so I was unable to plan my line. This made something familiar feel unfamiliar, a subject I mentioned in my last post.

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