I spent some time trying to decide where I should ride, today. Healey Nab was tempting for its quality, well drained trails. I didn’t want to set off without a specific goal so just riding round the trails didn’t seem to fit the bill. I considered repeating the ride I did on New Years day and go to the top of Great Hill. The climbing would be good training and the trails were likely to be OK, despite the recent rain. I finally decided to ride to Birkacre with the intention of riding 5 laps of my action packed circuit as I did on the 8th of January. There are so many corners in each lap and although the climbs seem quite short, a number of laps add up to quite a big figure for my ascent, according to Strava.
I started on the road for about half a mile then went into the edge of Duxbury Woods for an off road climb, which I thought would be very slippery. I spun the wheel on the first steep rise but got going again and completed with no more stopping. I’ve looked at my Strava record and it was, in fact, my slowest ever attempt! This wasn’t due to any lack of effort but rather due to the wet conditions. The river, when I walked the dog, looks rather low so I assume it’s just surface water making the trails so challenging. Hopefully a short, dry period will have things improving quickly.
The first highlight was the drop from Eaves Green to Birkacre. It uses Old Burgh Lane as a fast downhill which, although it only features 3 corners, is a good, fast blast. Soon afterward I arrived at my destination, tested a 3 corner segment which features in my planned circuit, then rode to my start/finish. 5 laps, here we go. A drop just after the start helps to get the speed up quickly. The bike was slithering from the first corner though the second offered plenty of grip. Into a wooded segment soon afterwards and the surface was like liquid. The only thing I could do was keep it smooth and make sure I didn’t shy away from the front wheel. By keeping pressure on the handlebars I try to keep the front gripping even if the rear lets go. It’s so much easier to deal with a rear wheel slide. You just need to keep the front wheel pointing where you’re hoping to go and the rear will follow. I could tell on the climbs that the ground was sapping my energy. The first lap took 7 minutes 59 seconds but I struggled to remember how long the laps took me on my last try. It’s easy to remember now, hours later, but hard exercise seems to sap my memory and definitely my ability to do arithmetic. Last time my first lap took 7 minutes 42 so I was a little slower today. My second lap took 8 minutes 16 and my third 8 minutes 28 seconds. I think I must have been keeping my effort constant, not my speed. The best way to ride several circuits quickly is to keep your speed and hence time constant, increasing the effort on each lap as you tire. It’s quite a skill to get the best out of yourself but it wasn’t happening on this ride.
I decided to ride only one further lap since I was obviously struggling in the adverse conditions. I put considerably more effort in this time, making sure I didn’t drop the energy when the trail conditions changed from up to down or muddy to drier. I improved as little for my fastest lap of 4, at 7 minutes 52 seconds. I was quite fatigued by this time so took it fairly easy on the way home. My attempt to find motivation by competing with myself, riding multiple laps, had been only partially successful. It was reasonable training but not the most thrilling of rides though that would always be difficult in today’s mud. I climbed 1,092 feet on my ride in 75 minutes.