Back to training.

My last few rides have been trail rides where I’ve had an objective to reach and return from, rather than a structured training ride. I don’t want to allow my improved fitness to diminish so today I decided on a ride with a structured training element. I’d ride to Brinscall Woods and do 10 laps of my secret little circuit. I can’t remember the downhill section from the past but with a climb back to the top it makes a great circuit. It begins with a short drop onto a fairly gentle gradient where you can pick up speed under a canopy of trees on a loamy surface. When you’re up to speed there’s a fallen tree but it’s easy to hop the front wheel over and allow the back to follow. A right hand kink followed by a left where I was just starting to find the limit of grip. You then need to brake for a sharper right, flowing into a left with a small drop off on the exit. There was a log fallen on the outside of this corner today, which was slightly to the right of the line I was riding. After that you have to wiggle through the trees being careful not to catch the end of a handlebar. An awkward left hander where you come close to rocks on both sides and more trees to avoid complete the downhill.


The start is inauspicious but leads to a delightful downhill section.

The climb back to the top is only around 40 feet of ascent in a tenth of a mile on a surface with plenty of protruding roots and rocks. The trick is to find the smoothest line so you don’t lose momentum and to keep the power on in a sustained way.

I started my first lap of 10 and checked out the grip. The log lying on the left hand corner was disconcerting, then I took the wrong trail back to the top, extending the circuit and taking 2 minutes 5 seconds. On my next lap I chose the correct route back to the top and improved to 1 minute 55 seconds. I put in 2 more laps, each of 1 minute 52 but decided to move the log on lap 5 for safety and to make the right/left combination more fun. I estimated my lap would have taken the same time again and was surprised on lap 6 to improve markedly to 1 minute 40 seconds. This was probably achieved by reaching the top of the climb and keeping pedaling hard to get the speed up on the first part of the downhill. This speed would then be carried for quite a distance before the first braking point. I was also getting into a better rhythm on the climb. Lap 7 took exactly the same time but I slowed by a full 10 seconds on lap 8. I probably just started thinking too much about the times and lost concentration on the task. By lap 9 I could hear my breathing was much harder and could feel my legs starting to burn. 1 minute 43 was a good improvement. I could get my composure back on the downhill and push hard on the final climb, achieving another lap of 1 minute 40. A total time of 18 minutes 19 seconds. It’s a meaningless set of figures in many ways but multiple laps are a good training tool. It’s a big motivation when you really don’t want to put a slow lap in. I’m sure I’ll do the same again but will try to put more effort in from lap one to improve my consistency. After all, the fastest way to ride multiple laps is to take the same time for each lap but increase the effort. reaching exhaustion at the very end.


This is the end of the circuit, where I sat on the grass to recover.

I rode back over Healey Nab to enjoy the new downhill and could tell I’d done some work by the end of the ride. The dry conditions were fantastic. We haven’t seen any significant rain for around 4 week. This is not unusual at this time of year which makes the popular phrase “April showers” seem rather redundant. I’m seeing a lot more people taking exercise during the Coronavirus crisis so maybe a fitter and healthier population might be a good if unexpected consequence of all this. Being out in the country is also good for mental health and families are spending time together doing other things than shopping. I enjoyed today’s ride and will be out again in a few days.



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