Many full time workers would hesitate to describe Monday as the best day of the week. When I worked full time I worked for myself which is a different to working for a big business. I had to turn up at my restaurant on a Monday, usually working 6 days a week. Saturday was the hardest day but the most profitable, so I didn’t mind it being hard. On Sunday I almost always rode my mountain bike. Now I can ride my bike on the day of my choice most of the time but today was likely to be the best day of this week because the weather is due to be worse later. Strong winds and plenty of rain are predicted so it would be foolish to make any specific plans for my next ride. I took it fairly easy today riding 3 laps of Healey Nab in 95 minutes. I covered 10.28 miles with 1,049 feet of ascent. A few windy days have had a good effect on the trails, drying the surface though still leaving plenty of muddy puddles.
After climbing to the trail head I rode down to the back gate to do a full lap, which Strava would record. It took me 15 minutes and 8 seconds but I must have lost 15 seconds or more when I slipped on a muddy part and struggled to get going again. I just had to admit defeat and push the bike onto drier ground. In the current conditions the time is unimportant but the benefit of wet trails is that they help you to practice skills, especially on the corners. A rear wheel slide is often of little consequence because you can still get round the corner. It can even be helpful to get the bike turned more quickly when the rear wheel slides out, though sometimes it does want to overtake you which can take you off the track or throw you to the ground. A front wheel slide, though, is much more important to prevent. Inexperienced riders often fear the front sliding so push themselves back on the bike as if they’re trying to get away from the danger. This is exactly the wrong thing to do. You need to weight the handlebars, which adds weight to the front tyre. The more weight pressing down on the contract patch of the tyre, the more grip you will get. Keep your upper body low by bending the elbows and consciously add weight to the front of the bike. Although I felt some slipping and sliding of the front wheel it didn’t develop into anything significant today.
I’ve watched some YouTube videos at the weekend of riders using the black graded decent so for my next lap I was inspired to give it a try. It just has too many obstacles packed into a short descent and doesn’t thrill me. There are 2 longer black downhills which I enjoy far more than the most direct route, which I took today. The black route joins the red for the section of jumps where I then had a problem. I’d noticed my shoe coming unclipped from the left pedal as I rode round my first circuit. I use clipless pedals, which is a misnomer. You have metal cleats attached to the underside of your shoes which clip into the pedals. Not only can you apply more power into the pedals when clipped in but you are physically stuck to the bike, which I think makes things safer. You can release a foot by twisting a heel outwards but today I was just coming unstuck a few times without me trying. It happened as I tried to clear the whole length of a table top jump. My left foot lost contact and I was out of control. I slammed the brakes on and veered off the track to the left so when I stopped I immediately tightened a screw on the pedal which makes it harder to unclip, either deliberately or by accident. It gave me an opportunity to take a couple of pictures.
The jump section has been expanded and improved this year.
The trails zigzag down the hill through the trees. Many of the trees are larch and have developed a fungal infection. They will all be cut down by March, which saddens me.
I returned to the trail head and completed another lap of the red trail before riding home. Next time out I hope to do something more structured to help my fitness. It gives the ride more purpose and I often enjoy the experience more.