Short but sweet.

Today I rode for just 1 hour and 6 minutes. I leave home and am on the trails in 5 minutes so for regular riding I save hours of time when many riders would be driving to the trails. Once I get off road the action starts straight away. After a short, straight shale track I took a sharp right hander, I messed it up! I braked too much and didn’t get the bike into the corner quickly enough. Next came a climb up a field with 2 steeper, rougher sections. It’s a seriously fast and exciting downhill on the way home, which is easy to ride in under a minute. Since I was right near the start of my ride I didn’t want to empty the tank but put some effort in. I was surprised how dry the ground is after lots of rain and 5 mainly dry days. It’s only the second time I’ve ridden the climb using Strava on dry ground and last time I stopped to move a dangerous rock so it was unsurprising that I set a best time. It took me 3 minutes 53 seconds compared to a fastest ever rider at 2 minutes 32. Obviously I could improve but at the beginning of a ride it’s the wrong time to find out what I can do! Still 35th fastest out of 226 riders is fine by me. Reducing my time by 30 seconds would put me 16th but I just don’t see myself targeting this segment.

Up onto the trails of Healey Nab and I had decided to ride 3 laps. First I rode to the trail head in a relaxed way but sped down the sinuous ribbon of single track to the start of the full lap of the red graded trail. I wasn’t sure how much effort I was prepared to expend. I had a weekend away at a scooter rally, which inevitably involves lots of alcohol and junk food. It was a good weekend! I’d had a full day to recover yesterday and felt lively enough. After a few quality twists and turns a small climb took me to the top of the recently modified section which has had some quite big jumps built. The picture below is from a previous ride.


The lack of contrast on this photo doesn’t tell how deep the dip between the 2 main jumps is. I used the technique I’ve worked out previously but at the race pace I was riding at it’s hard to stop the bike leaving the ground on the first part, leaving no time to prepare for the second. I made sure my weight was pushed back to stop the rear wheel getting kicked up and got through well. This feature is now about the most exciting part and continues into 3 nice corners.

The trail continues to descend through many more bermed corners leading to a section of 7 jumps. The important thing is to ride smoothly on trails like this and leave the brakes alone as much as possible. You can lose speed quickly but getting it back is not as easy so hang onto it and don’t surrender! There are steep undulations along the bottom section before the climb starts in earnest. I was relaxed but again trying to keep the momentum up over the harder areas. After a few minutes of going up, you go down for a short time before the twisting final climb to the highest point at the trail head. A little over half a minute of fast curves take you back to the start point. I was happy with my lap and felt that I could have maintained most of my speed on a second lap. Instead I rode the more technical black graded down hill but returned by the same route back to the top. For my final descent I rode the red graded route again and carried on down the first big climb which I’d managed in 3 minutes 53. Going down was easy in 1 minute 6. Gravity is the best friend of any cyclist. I hardly pedaled!

When I got back home I checked my performance on the fast lap and was very happy with 11 minutes 40 seconds compared to my Strava best of 11 minutes 8. I’m also convinced that this circuit is better suited to my 15 year old Whyte mountain bikes.

I may have a go at my target for the year of sub 11 minutes on my next ride if the weather stays dry so I’ll need to decide which of the very similar Whytes I ride. Believe me it’s a delicious choice!


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