The only choice.

We’ve had a period of heavy, summer rain and the trails were bound to be drenched. I left an empty bucket out last night and by this morning it had over an inch of rain in it so I realised that for my first ride in a week the only choice was Healey Nab. The man made trail system has a good base of compacted stones with a grit top coat and it drains well.

I decided to take the driest route to the top, passing the hamlet of Limbrick. We used to go to the Black Horse for beer when my wife, Ali and I first met but it’s changed hands several times since then and we’ve got out of the habit of going. The road has a couple of short, steep sections and after a few miles I turned up towards a farm and onto a bridleway. It’s a gravel surface, climbing gently to the final ascent to the summit of the hill and the trail head. I was riding my Boardman today so if it had been dry it would have been interesting to see if I could get close to my 11 minute target for the full red graded circuit. On the first climb up to the trail head conditions weren’t too bad. The descent was little affected by the rain and by using Strava I was able to see that the conditions cost me only 5 seconds or so. I’ve realised that I need to make a bigger effort on the downhill if I’m to beat 11 minutes so I’ll be looking for a time of under 1 minute 50 rather than today’s 1 min. 56 when the ground dries out.

Further round the circuit there were a few puddles to splash through. The one before the last of 7 jumps was deep and soaked me! I was putting plenty of effort into the climb but eased back later since there was no chance of a really good time. I was pleased with 12 minutes 32 seconds on the stopwatch. Strava gave me 12 minutes 38. I’ve no idea why but sometimes the Strava time matches the stopwatch. Today it didn’t. I’ll be happy with either as long as it’s sub 11 minutes. This has become the big one for me to beat this year and I’d love to improve my fitness to achieve it. Unfortunately life has got in the way in the last few weeks and I’ve missed several rides. Still I’ve also had 3 good weekends camping and drinking plenty of beer so that’s a good compensation.

I rode a further 3 laps, the next using one of the black route options and finally 2 reds. I came home down the “Froom Street downhill” and was surprised to take only 1 minute 12 seconds. This may be over 20  seconds slower than I’ve managed in the past but I hardly pedaled on the soggy surface. I covered 8.95 miles in 1 hour 20 and climbed 1,125 feet in total. I’m hoping to get out in 2 days time but Ali is a school teacher so has another 5 weeks of holiday. I can’t just ride when I fancy. A certain amount of negotiation will be needed. The pictures show my muddy bike which I’ve now washed.


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