After a wet weekend we’re enjoying a dry day, today. I walked the dog and found Duxbury woods to be very muddy. Fortunately Freddie doesn’t care. I’m not concerned when walking but it was certainly going to affect my mountain biking. The only realistic option, apart from a road ride, was to ride to Healey Nab with it’s well drained, man made trails. 3 laps would give me at least 75 minutes of riding. My first off road section was deep in slimy mud and I struggled to keep the bike moving. I thought it would be better to go round the back of the hill to climb the gravel road. On the way home later I found I’d made the right choice. The track along the edge of a grassy field was more like liquid than solid!
I remembered some routes I used years ago, on my climb. One in particular is very steep and technical. One summer I succeeded every single time. This summer I think I tried it only once and couldn’t keep going on the steepest part. I think I’m having a good year this year, as witnessed by my improving record on Strava on some challenges. It will be interesting, when the ground dries in the spring, to see if this translates to better climbing on the harder stuff. I don’t find myself unhappy when I can’t climb as well or go as fast as I could 20 years ago. I think I enjoy riding as much as ever.
I arrived at the trails with the intention of riding 3 laps so started immediately on lap one. I stopped at a cairn at the summit to take 2 pictures so to estimate my lap time I’ve used Strava again. I lapped the full red route in 15 minutes 27 seconds which is nowhere near the 11 minute target I’d set myself for this year. The descending probably wasn’t too bad but the muddy climbs sap energy and speed. I got back to the start and thought it would be good to see if I could ride a faster lap. Suddenly I’d found the key to a far more exciting way to ride. Now I was racing myself! I wouldn’t find the result until I got home and compared my times but now I was fully engaged with the ride, concentrating on every inch of trail and never letting the pace drop. Puddles and muddy patches, which had been nothing on my first lap, were challenges to be overcome. The effort lifted my spirits, who cares about mud? It’ll wash off, anyway. On the last climb I saw a roe deer, which is always nice.
It was 22 minutes past midday but my shadow was still about 15 feet long. The shortest day is less than a week away.
After I completed lap 2 I rode down the hill by a mixed red and black graded route and then home. I was surprised that my time only improved to 15 minutes 7 seconds, just 20 seconds faster. The half an hour or more of riding through the slop must have taken it’s toll. I love a trail ride but when I’m not riding to any particular destination a little bit of competition, even if it’s really trivial and I’m only competing against myself, makes an everyday ride exciting. I climbed 1,113 feet, today and covered 10.68 miles in 92 minutes.
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