A recovery ride, or not?

My last ride involved a fully committed section of trail which took over 15 minutes. OK, so it was a mainly downhill piece of trail but if you want to do it quickly you should still be maximising your effort when the trail turns down. Not only that but I had to get to the top of the hill to start the segment and climbed over 1,500 feet in total. This left me rather tired after the ride and 2 days later it was time to ride again. I initially thought that it would be good training to ride 5 laps of Healey Nab, with it’s rebuilt man made mountain bike trails, to maintain my improved fitness. I’ve noticed that I’ve been tired after several recent rides and so wondered if I should do a more gentle ride to recover from my efforts. I never seem to do this and didn’t want a boring ride so I decided on a compromise. I’d ride 5 varied laps of Healey Nab but take it easier and not worry how long the laps were taking me. Hardly a recovery ride, then, but I had no time targets to achieve so it should be a little easier than many of my rides.

I set out and headed towards the hill. As ever I was keen to get on the better trails as soon as possible so rode up an open field with a couple of steep sections and up to the woodland on top. A useful trail cuts up to join the circular trail which I was intending to lap and I rode to the hill top.

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It was still a little cloudy in the morning, which is probably preferable for riding. I rode down the descent of the top loop and found a fallen tree across the trail. I’d already cleared a smaller tree earlier on my ascent to the top but this one was far too big to move. I decided to go over the tree and then time a full lap from that point. I was going at a pace I’d describe as a fast cruise and lapped in 11 minutes 36 seconds compared to the 10 minutes 47 seconds I took on a more committed, though still not flat out lap, on a previous attempt. Not exactly taking it easy, then! I just find it difficult to ride slowly, it simply isn’t as exciting and fulfilling. Back at the trail head I had a socially distanced chat with a father and son who told me they’d been coming up the hill every day recently. With so many people not working during the Coronavirus crisis people are living different lives. I don’t imagine they’d ever had the chance to ride day after day before now. I’m sure the experience will create a stronger father and son bond than ever, so the crisis has some benefits. Since I’m semi retired I’ve only been missing one day’s gardening work per week and have enjoyed having my wife, a school teacher, at home most days. The garden is looking good and we’ve done a few household projects which we might not have had the chance to fit in normally. Holidays this summer might be the only major victim, for us.

I used one of the old black graded descents for my next lap but climbed the same way. For my third downhill I used a newly constructed trail which will also be black graded. Since the felling of the diseased larch trees the ground seems to be changing due to the lack of tree cover. Not only is it currently very dry and dusty but a lot of gravel and other debris is laying on the surface, making it slippery and unpredictable. I read a comment on a Facebook page which said that Healey Nab was no longer worth visiting. I can’t imagine why anyone would think this. Maybe some riders want a smooth roller coaster ride, not a mountain bike trail. I could feel the effort on my fourth climb and stumbled on a tricky section which now has to be used where the old trail was destroyed. After another downhill I did the same in just the same place on my fifth and final climb. I was definitely feeling the effects of my ride. At the top were 2 other riders, one riding a brand new Nukeproof full suspension bike for the first time. He was finding the front wheel felt out of control so I gave him some tips on suspension set up, which he said improved things. I told him he should be wearing a helmet! I’ve cracked a few helmets over the years but fortunately my head has remained in tact! He asked me if I’d like him to take a picture with my bike and I agreed. Strictly speaking this was not the right thing to do. He obviously had to handle my phone but I considered it to be such a small risk that I posed next to the bike.

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I enjoyed my 5 laps and after some gardening in the afternoon I’m tired. My legs can really feel the effort so it wasn’t a ride of recovery but I have no regrets about that. The app. Strava informs me that I’d climbed 1,331 feet in 9.47 miles.

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