I have fitted a new 11 speed cassette to my Boardman FS Pro mountain bike. That means that this year it’s had a new mech. and the 3 components of the transmission, chain, chainring and now cassette. This must have cost me over £200 in total but should last a couple of years, though I won’t leave the chain too long before I change it again. It’s the cheapest of the parts and changing it can prolong the life of the other pieces. The picture at the top was taken after today’s ride. The bike is rather dusty, which is a rare treat in our rather damp climate.
It was very easy to decide where I should ride today. The continuing dry weather is a blessing during our coronavirus lockdown and has left some often muddy trails perfect. I’d ride to Brinscall Woods, take the gravel road up towards Great Hill then do a long downhill into the top of the woods, along the top edge and drop down on exquisite loamy single track to the river at the bottom. This may only take around 9 minutes but it’s intensely absorbing, no other thought than the ride would enter my head in that time.
I rode by my usual route from home to White Coppice where I took the technical riverside trail. I was determined to get up the rocky section which has defeated me on my last two attempts. My technique was a simple one, accelerate at it and keep those pedals spinning. As long as I did this I’d have no problem being diverted off course or losing balance. It worked! I kept it going along the rest of the section then climbed the gravel road up the woods, taking the very root ridden climb later to the top northeastern corner. From there a short section of tarmac leads to the still ascending gravel road. I was filled with anticipation and when I reached the right hand turn I launched into the downhill, forgetting to start my stopwatch. No problem, I could see the record of my ride on the app. Strava later.
I thought I was taking it easy on the ascent of the woods but managed my third fastest time. It was the same on the way down, again setting a third fastest on the first downhill part. Again I was determined to make it over a rocky hump along the top of the woods. I just had to dig in and grind it out. The trail undulates but is still a pleasure to ride even if it lacks the excitement of something with more assistance from gravity. Then it’s downhill again and this is a real gem which I’ve only recently discovered. It twists and turns on the perfect loamy surface. It crashes over broken down stone wall from when this was farmland 100 years ago. There are logs and roots to cope with. I was trusting the grip on the corners now I’ve got more used to it. I dropped steeply and crossed the gravel fire road and started another Strava segment called “Better than going straight down”. The bike was squirming under me as I found the limit of grip. Damn! I ran wide on a turn. The right hand corner is vague and I’ve missed it before. It would only have cost me a few seconds, which didn’t matter until I got home and found that my time was second fastest ever, only 1 second behind the King of the Mountains time. That has definitely got to be a target for the near future. I received a Strava trophy for my efforts!
After setting another personal record along the goit, a straightened river, back to White Coppice I intended to improve on my time on the next section for which I’d won a Strava trophy on my last attempt. I’d been 10th fastest out of 1,300 riders! 2 riders were going through the gate at the start as I approached. I called “excuse me!” as far in advance as I could but knew that this may continue to be a problem further on. I came across another couple, a larger group and an individual along the straight trail. For most of it’s length it’s level but later on undulates. I realised by half way that I’d started too quickly and was tiring. I got that feeling of wading through treacle but kept my effort up until the end. I improved on my previous time of 3 minutes 18 seconds, which I’d set with a decent tail wind, by 10 seconds. I needed to be a further 4 seconds faster to improve on my tenth place so I remain in that position. Still, 10th out of 1,300. I can’t pretend to be unhappy!
I’d really worked hard for a little over 3 minutes and didn’t have much energy left for the rest of the ride. I ascended Healey Nab and rode the excellent new downhill and the open section which follows. An excellent ride.