You can ask me. Because today I became a king! That is I set a segment time on the popular app. Strava which was faster than anyone else has ever achieved. Don’t worry, this blog will not continue as an act of shameless self aggrandisement. I can see why my time was so fast and will confess all later.
My wife, Ali, is a school teacher and this week is half term so she’s at home with me. There’s a little more negotiation required before I can ride and today I assured her that I’d just be riding the roads to avoid washing machine breaking levels of mud. I set off with that sincere intent but changed my mind during the ride to add a bit more interest. My initial plan had been to ride past Ali’s school, where only the caretakers car was in attendance, and go round the north side of Healey Nab. After crossing the dam at the end of the Anglezarke reservoir the road climbs steeply for around a mile gaining just over 300 feet in height. I thought it would be good, if limited training, for my 47 mile ride in April. Before I set off I imagined I’d really push myself up this hill to get the best out of it. I’d chosen to ride my Whyte JW4 with it’s radical linkage suspension. I don’t usually ride it in muddy conditions to protect my piece of mountain bike history but knew the road would be fairly dry. This is the bike I’ll be using in April because it’s light, has lower drag 26″ tyres and it doesn’t bob up and down when pedaling. According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another! Why does this matter? Simply because when bike suspension is compressed the energy used to compress is converted into heat in the shock absorbers. This energy could be better used to propel the bike along. The Whyte JW4 feels easy to pedal and when you get out of the saddle to climb hills it refuses to bob up and down unlike just about every other bike. This type of bike was made for about 5 years but must not have sold well enough to be continued and developed further. A missed opportunity for the betterment of bikes, I feel.
I drank a couple of beers last night so perhaps didn’t feel at my best on the early stages of my ride but I wasn’t tiring on the hills. I’ve definitely improved my fitness as a result of having a target and even though I couldn’t muster the biggest of efforts I was still setting multiple personal records according to Strava. 3 firsts, 3 seconds and a third best, in fact, on the climbs. I stopped and turned around at the top and tried to beat 40mph on the way down. The road surface was a little wet but I still tucked once my legs couldn’t propel me any quicker. 38.3 mph was slightly disappointing but I’d already decided to lift the ride to a higher level by lapping Healey Nab. Whilst some parts of the country are suffering flooding my local trails have dried up for the first time in ages. The ascent up the back of the hill and the downhill were good and I managed my second fastest ever times on 2 segments, one a climb and the other the climb plus downhill. All this on a fifteen year old bike. Mountain bike development has surely gone along the wrong course if an older bike is faster than a modern one. I accept that purely for downhilling a modern trail bike may be quicker but first you need to get up the hills. It’s this combination where the Whyte succeeds, which makes it ideal for a 47 miles epic. I arrived at the place where the trail is now cut off and the tree felling work has started.
Piles of logs are appearing, felled from the area around the old quarry.
I climbed over the obstruction because I saw an opportunity to set a very good Strava time. The segment called “Gate Chase” ran down a farm track but usually a gate half way down was closed. The fastest time ever was 1 minute 13 seconds. I can only imagine this was set when the gate was open but now I had the additional advantage of a resurfaced trail. Much of the route has been covered in crushed stone and was bound to be running fast. I put some effort in and got a big sensation of speed on a still loose top layer. I didn’t maximise the effort but it turned out I didn’t need to. I still got down in a mere 57 seconds and was crowned King of the Mountains for my pains. OK so I had advantages few may previously have benefited from but at 57 years old I’ll take all the plaudits I can get!
I’m going away to a beautiful area on the coast for the next few days and have no chance of being allowed to take a bike. I hope to ride at the weekend, though. Please feel free to like or comment on my post.