Meeting a world champion.

I met a world champion on my ride today!

The weather forecast have been rather pessimistic over the last few days. I was expecting a poor weekend. Today has been overcast but with no rain in the morning so I decided to ride. I knew the ground would be wet after a few rainy days so I wasn’t going to ride one of my precious classic mountain bikes. The 3 year old Boardman would be my steed of choice. As soon as I set off from home I could tell the bike felt very different to the 1996 Proflex which I rode 3 days ago. The suspension is so much softer and more compliant but the rear brake just seemed wrong. It’s amazing how you get muscle memory implanted when you’ve ridden a different bike, even for a single ride. I was expecting the lever to barely move before the brake came on and adjusted it to bite sooner. I also noticed how the bike wanted to turn more easily. Maybe the homemade fork needs further refinement but another test ride will be the next step in the development.

I rode up to Healey Nab from the north end and saw no one until I reached the trail head and started on the descent of the top loop. A group of about 7 riders moved from the trail to let me past and one said “hiya” to me, which is possibly the most popular greeting locally. I suspected it may be someone who recognised me but I said hello back and carried on like a celebrity who’d been recognised. In truth I knew I’d be doing 3 laps so was sure I could catch up with whoever it was later. Today I rode the top loop around 8 seconds quicker than I had done on the Proflex on my last ride. Maybe I wasn’t trying as hard 3 days ago or maybe the times suggest that 20 years of MTB development haven’t been a waste of time. It certainly seems considerably easier to get up a short section of rocky climb on the Boardman and this was the bike I used when I set the second fastest time by any rider back in April. I’ve just looked again at Strava, the cycling app. and I see that my 1 minute 30 seconds looks like it will survive as the fastest time of all this year!

I was being a little bit more cautious on the main downhill in the slippery conditions but enjoyed the well made trail. After my second full lap, when I’d used a mixture of red and black graded downhill trail, the riders had moved to the trail head. It turned out to be 2018 under 21 Enduro World Series champion Elliott Heap doing a coaching session. Enduro races involve a long trail ride with a number of timed, usually downhill, segments. The total time for these segments determines the results. He asked me where my classic Whyte bike was and we chatted for a time. I asked if he’d be doing the EWS in 2020 but he’s not yet sure due to the sponsorship he’ll need. He may be doing another series of events, CrankWorx, which are mainly in the USA instead. This year he came 32nd in the EWS in his first year as a senior. If only he’d had a homemade fork like the one I’ve built for the Proflex, he may have won! See……Riding a homemade bike!

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I told him I’d show his students how NOT to do it and set off on my final descent, before riding home. It’s nice to be recognised by a world champion and I wish him the best of good fortune in his career.

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