Man Flu.

Newspaper reports have confirmed that men suffer far worse from respiratory infections than women!

“Man flu is real, reported the Daily Mirror . Many newspapers reported the news that scientists have found men suffer from flu more because they “invest in their spirit of adventure at the expense of their immune system” (The Daily Telegraph ).”

There it is in black and white! I’m not sure I believe the above statement. Isn’t it just a case of men enjoying moaning about a trivial illness more than women, in general, do? I had a bit of stiffness in my legs and shoulders on Sunday and by Monday morning I felt a little feverish. I couldn’t get warm so took some paracetamol. I had a slightly sore throat and started to wonder if I could have caught Coronavirus. On Tuesday morning I felt a lot better and by the afternoon I was completely over it. I finished sanding some floor boards, which had been plaguing me for the last week. I’d been worried that I might miss some days of riding because of my cold and even if I did get out I thought the quality of training would be far lower. I’m feeling that I’m ready for my big ride in April but wouldn’t want to lose fitness before then. Today, though, since I felt OK I was able to get back on the bike and do a good ride to the top of Rivington Pike. I’ve believed in the past that when I could really do without a cold, my symptoms have often not developed. I don’t know if medical science accepts a psychological element to colds and other infections but through my own experience (which may, of course, be wrong!), I do believe this.

The weather forecast yesterday was rather pessimistic, predicting rain which could fall at any time of the day. Instead we’ve had a dry day and after my ride the sun has come out. My natural choice would have been to do some laps of Healey Nab but I found on a recent ride that the tree felling has made it unrideable. The woods were still very wet when I walked the dog earlier so I chose a ride to Rivington. It would give me plenty of climbing to the peak at 1,186 feet. I recalled my last ride there on my Boardman FS Pro with it’s 140/130 mm suspension. The descent, in particular, had given me something of a battering with it’s rocky surface. I’d wondered how my Whyte JW4 would cope, given that this is my bike of choice for 47 miles of riding in April. I must be over my brief illness because Strava tells me that I set 9 personal records on segments and a further 9 second and third best times. I’d put some of this down to the Whyte being a lighter bike with narrower tyres and so less rolling resistance but also to my improving fitness. I’ve said it before, it’s my old friend psychology again. My target to do a big ride is making me work harder without me having to force myself and it’s a great way to boost training.

My main thought for today’s ride was to check how the Whyte performed on the bumpy downhills compared to the Boardman. It has a very different suspension system with a much lower 100 mm of travel at each wheel.

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The Boardman has a conventional telescopic fork and a Horst link rear suspension.

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The Whyte at the top of the Pike today. It has a unique linkage front suspension with an equally radical virtual pivot point rear.

Before I got to the downhill, I had to climb up the same bumpy route. My natural optimism was trying to convince me that my much loved Whyte feels much the same as the modern Boardman but it doesn’t. The small pebbles are absorbed well since the Whyte has good small bump performance. Once the rocks are fist sized it’s harder to keep going and the resistance of the ground slows you. On smoother parts, though, the Whyte has the upper hand since it doesn’t cause the suspension to bob when you pedal, so there’s more energy left to propel you forwards. It was much the same on the descent. The bigger rocks steal more speed from you rather than letting you float over with plusher suspension. Having said that today’s Strava segments were a mixed bag of faster and slower compared to recent rides on the Boardman. Usually smoother surfaces favoured the Whyte.

I’ve convinced myself that the Whyte will definitely cope with the 47 miles of the Mary Townely loop where I believe most of the route is not as bumpy as much of today’s off road riding. On smoother surfaces the light weight and lack of suspension bobbing will give the bike the edge. I just hope we get a good dry spell before my ride and the chance to do some longer training rides. And no more man flu!

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