Are we breaking records?

This time I’m not talking about personal records for ride segments on the app. Strava. (Though maybe more of that later!) I’m talking about weather records, specifically the amount of rain we’ve had. This winter was already much wetter than last winter, I could tell this from the ground conditions on my bike rides. During February, though, the rain has been biblical. We seem to have been lucky in our area of Lancashire because although our local river, the Yarrow, has been at a high level, we haven’t seen flooding unlike so many places. It’s not just modern houses, built foolishly on flood planes but many old towns which have rarely flooded before which have been affected.

Today started with some slushy snow on the ground, which soon melted and was followed by some welcome sunshine. I thought about repeating my last ride to the top of Great Hill but decided it was unlikely to be any less sodden. The tree felling on Healey Nab is now in full swing so I thought about riding to Rivington. Rivington itself is a tiny village but the surrounding area of woodland, moorland and Japanese influenced gardens is a mountain bikers delight. I thought that by carefully choosing my route I’d be able to put a ride together which wouldn’t be ruined by the oceans of water which have fallen in the area recently. It was only after I’d set off that I realised that I’d be likely to come across some snow on my ride. I’d walked my dog, Freddie, and only a few little handfuls of snow had survived in sheltered place. As I climbed the hill before Limbrick I could see the aptly named Winter Hill with a complete covering.IMG_20200227_122357

In the distance Winter Hill is snow covered, except for a pine wood which lies on it’s flank.

I rode a few road miles before crossing the dam between the Anglezarke and Upper Rivington reservoirs and took an off road climb. I’d already set 3 fastest and 2 second fastest times on some Strava segments on the road before setting a new record on the first off road segment. I put these times, as well as the other 15 top 3 segment times, down to the psychological effect of having a big target for this year. I mention in just about every post these days that I’m riding the Mary Towneley Loop in April. It’s 47 miles with 6,500 feet of ascent and it’s really focused my mind. Now every ride is a training ride and I’m using my time on the bike wisely. A little bimble around the local woods now looks like a missed opportunity to train, so I’m giving my rides a lot more thought. I honestly never expected my fitness to improve at 57 years old. I was just trying to stop any significant decline! I didn’t have, and still don’t have, a structured training plan but I think I’ve found an effective way to improve your fitness. SET A SIGNIFICANT TARGET. It’s as simple as that. Last year I set 4 targets in January and achieved 2 of them. They weren’t big enough to motivate me to put any extra effort in, were all things I’d have expected to do a few years ago and didn’t make me think about them very often. As a result they didn’t cause me to work hard. That’s an important thing I’ve learned and I’ll certainly be deciding on at least one big, motivational target for each year in the future.

I took a long bumpy, fairly gentle downhill towards Rivington village. It’s a hard surface made from fist sized stones firmly set into the ground, in the main. Sitting I could really feel the bumps through my arms but by standing up in a balanced position I took the shocks through my legs and it was much less tiring. I climbed past the Great Barn and up the terraced gardens to Rivington Pike. When I looked at the picture I took, later, I found the the name of my Rockshox fork was clearly visible.


Yes, it’s a Rockshox Pike! What are the chances? Beyond the pike, Winter Hill had a light covering of snow. I rode a little on snow on the descent and the slippery conditions had me keeping the speed down. Another rocky section confirmed to me that a very bumpy trail can be tiring. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a few hundred yards in length but if it’s 47 miles it will matter a lot. I’d like to do this ride again on my Whyte JW4 which I am planning to use in April. I’d like to know if the bumps make the bike any more tiring to ride given that it has only 100mm of suspension travel, front and rear compared to my Boardman’s 140/130mm. I had originally thought I’d ride over Healey Nab to see what effect the tree felling was having but my legs had got splashed with freezing cold water. When I sped up the wind chill took me by surprise! Later my wet feet started to really feel it so I thought I’d get back home to warm up. A bath cured everything.

If I ever inspired any of you to set a fitness target, I hope you’d tell me about it with a comment.



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