Review of my year.

I’ve had a good year on the bike and I’ve enjoyed blogging about my experiences. At the start of the year I set myself 4 targets, riding the red route of Healey Nab in under 11 minutes, riding from White Coppice to Brinscall Woods and back without a foot down, riding Crooked Edge without a foot down and achieving a Strava “King of the Mountains” on a segment called Birkacre Climb.

It took me a while to do White Coppice to Brinscall in both directions. I think I was trying too hard to ride the rough, rocky trail with delicacy and finesse. What it really needed was aggression and fierce determination. It took me quite a few attempts until I managed the challenge on 14th May but I have achieved it again since then. I will set the same challenge for 2020.

I set a time of 2 minutes 24 seconds on the Birkacre climb in March but managed 2 minutes 15 seconds subsequently. an impressive 6 seconds faster then the Strava target time. Unfortunately Strava continued to record the time as I sat at the top recovering, so although I didn’t get the kudos of my name in lights on the app. I’m going to claim a second victory.

The climb of Crooked Edge was just too hard. I got close but couldn’t keep going on the final very steep section. It took me a massive effort to get to the bottom of the climb, using as little effort as possible which spoiled my ride when I tried the challenge. I therefore realised that although I could ride the route in the late ’90s, it’s now too hard for me. I’m sure I’ll try to ride it in future but won’t make it the sole focus of my ride.

I had a few attempts at the red route of Healey Nab with a best time of 11 minutes and 8 seconds on Strava. My stopwatch said 11 minutes exactly but the target was sub 11 minutes so I can’t claim a victory. Unfortunately the wet summer never gave me another chance to try for the target. With anything other than bone dry trails I wouldn’t have stood a chance, so this is another challenge to carry over to next year. So 2 challenges achieved and 2 not realised. I enjoyed trying.

I’ve done plenty of other memorable rides which didn’t involve any of the challenges above. Perhaps my best ride of the year was when I tried to beat a target of 22 minutes 20 seconds and did it by a single second!  You can read about it by clicking the link. The World’s longest second.

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Me, about to ride to the top of Great Hill and back to this spot. Beating my target by one second somehow felt better than if I’d beaten it easily.

I took my bike on our holiday to Yorkshire and did my longest ride of the year around Dalby forest. It was an enjoyable ride around an iconic trail but what it mainly told me was that I live in a fantastic riding area in Lancashire. My local trails are even better!

One of my best moments this year was when I tried to improve my time from third fastest ever on the Strava segment “Healey Nab top loop”. I’d set 1 minute 41 seconds for the short circuit and was trying to beat the second fastest time of 1 minute 40 seconds. I smashed it! I even surprised myself with 1 minute 30 seconds. A middle aged man beating 293 others!

I’ve had some good rides up Darwen hill this year. It’s a longer ride but good to know that I still have enough stamina to do the ride without having to stop to rest. I’ll be doing some longer rides early next year to prepare myself for the 47 mile Mary Towneley Loop, which I hope to ride around April.

Blogging has told me just how often I ride Healey Nab, my closest hill. It’s only 680 feet at the top but there is a series of man made, weatherproof trails. Sometimes I use the trails as a final flourish to a ride whilst other times I repeat circuits for training. Some work has been done to improve the red graded trail this year, creating a sublime section of twists and jumps. A picture will never really show what it’s like to ride but I’ll post one anyway, taken just as the work was being completed.

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I’ve acquired a new, old bike this year. It’s a 23 year old Proflex, which were one of the first brands to offer front and rear suspension. I have built a front suspension fork to replace the rather poor original. I enjoyed making and testing the fork and believe it genuinely improves the bike. Not bad for a bit of garage engineering.

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Why buy one when you can make one yourself?

The weather hasn’t helped this year. We’ve had a wet period in the summer, which has continued to the end of the year. At least Britain is a country where the trails never close due to the weather so I’ve been able to continue riding all year. I’m as excited about the coming year as ever. I’ll finalise my 2020 challenges in January and hope to get one more ride in before New Year.

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