For a variety of reasons I haven’t ridden for 5 days so was keen to get a good ride in today to maintain my fitness. With Healey Nab out of action for training I decided to ride to the top of Great Hill, especially concentrating on the Strava segment “Great Hill, out and back”. I rode it in 22 minutes and 19 seconds last year on the 29th of March and my target for this year is to beat this time. The segment climbs by 373 feet, gently at first on a gravel road but later it becomes rockier and much tougher. So far this year, after a record breaking wet February and generally wet winter, the conditions have just not favoured an attempt at my target. I was looking to use today’s ride to maintain or improve my fitness in advance of trying my other target for the year which is to ride the Mary Towneley Loop, a 47 mile off road ride with 6,500 feet of climbing but joyfully the same amount of downhill.
I started out from home and took the first off road option. Despite the ground being a little drier than my last ride here in open areas, I still ground to a halt in deep mud in the same place as last time. I stuck to the road to the bottom of Brinscall Woods for this reason and this time chose the less steep climb, having ridden the steeper way a few times this year. Strava told me later that I’d set 12 first, second or third fastest times for various parts of the ride. This included a fastest ever time from the river to the top of Great Hill. I didn’t stop at any of the obvious points and didn’t spend any time taking photos, so maybe this achievement needs to be put into perspective.
On the Great Hill challenge a south westerly breeze was initially slightly blowing against me but later helped as the trail turned east. I was putting some work in and could certainly feel the effort on the later, harder section of the climb. There was no time to waste at the top, I just spun the bike round and set off down. To set my best time I’ll have to get over the stile, which has to be climbed in both direction, with a bit more elegance and aplomb. I felt like a man of around 58 years of age over the stile, rather than the finely honed athlete I’d like to consider myself (author laughs to himself at this point!) The clay has certainly solidified on the climb and didn’t need as many diversions onto firmer ground, which I’ve been having to take recently. The part which has been most affected by the rain is actually the gravel. Instead of being packed down to the ground it’s loose which definitely hampers progress. My maximum speed was 5mph slower than on my best ride from last year. I was pleased with my 25 minutes and 15 seconds. On my first serious attempt last year I managed 25 minutes exactly but looking back at my post I’m sure it was significantly drier on that occasion. I just need the weather gods to favour me to make my target.
I’ve been enjoying riding down Brinscall Woods this year but so far it’s been a little too wet. Today, though, I was able to push the bike much harder on the loamy corners and allow speed to build over the sections where tree roots protrude. I spent around half of the journey home off road and was still setting some good times according to Strava. Because of the tree felling I decided not to ride up Healey Nab and just hope we can get it back to normal after the machinery has gone. So all in all it was a good training ride and I’m so pleased at how setting a big target has helped my fitness. Every time I ride I’m now training, rather than just ambling around. It’s the best boost to fitness I’ve ever experienced so why don’t you set yourself a target?
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