Hottest day of the year.

It’s not often in Northern England that you need to change your planned ride because the weather is hot! Today we’ve had winds blowing from continental Europe and so the kind of heat we rarely enjoy. Add to that some humidity and it was enough to persuade me not to ride to the top of Great Hill, much of which would have been in the open, but instead to use a woodland circuit of around half a mile in length. I walked my dog, Freddie, in the area this morning and knew I could add an interesting loop to the downhill we’d climbed up to complete a circuit which I could then ride multiple laps of.

It was only a few hundred yards to the edge of Duxbury Woods where the circuit is situated and the first, steep off road climb. I found the beginning of my lap and started down it but became a little confused. At speed I couldn’t see the corners in time, especially one left hander, so kept going wrong. I went back to the start a couple of times but still made errors in my route finding. Because no one has ridden this before I was just riding across the floor of the nearest thing we have to primordial forest, which is marked by barely discernible tracks which have been walked only a little. I managed a full circuit but found that I was approaching twists and turns too fast on many occasions. I had to panic brake, losing my speed. On the difficult left hander I had slides as I continued to lap. It’s important to know that it’s not the speed you enter a corner that matters, it’s the speed your leave it. You can lose speed quickly on the brakes but getting that speed back is much harder. If you enter a corner such as the loamy surfaced ones I was riding today too quickly, you’re likely to either have to brake or skid. Sliding the bike around is fun but a sliding wheel scrubs speed off. On the tricky left hander I almost ground to a halt with one or both wheels sliding on successive laps. I stopped after my first lap then did 2 laps back to back in 3 minute 32 and 3 minutes 39 seconds. After a short rest it was time to beat 3 and a half minutes! I managed it in 3 minutes 23 but was finding that a couple of the climbs, though short, needed 100% effort in my lowest gear. After the 4 laps I could really feel the effort. I often find that circuit riding is good exercise because I’ll time myself and not ride an easy lap. On this lap it’s like doing 2 or 3 short but hard sprints from which I then had to recover. Even by lap 4 I wasn’t happy with the way I was riding the left hander so rode it about 10 more times, climbing, turning round and repeating.

Some tree roots protrude from the surface half way round the corner so I was initially taking a wide line to avoid them which left me needing to tighten my line on the exit. This would have been fine if the exit was a grippy patch but it’s loose loam and provided little grip.

My two lines are visible, scored in to the surface, turning to the left.

After many attempts I found I could take a much tighter line on the entry. Although this meant I had to enter the corner more slowly, I was much faster on the way out. I completed a fifth lap and rode home. My t shirt was wetter than an otter’s pocket by the time I got home. A short but good ride. I found from Strava that a recently made garden area in the nearby, new housing has been named “Mayflower Gardens”. This is a reference to the ship Mayflower which carried the first of the Pilgrim Father to America. It’s believed that Myles Standish, their military leader, was born locally. He named one of the first settlement Duxbury which is now in Massachusetts. The Standish family owned the Duxbury estate, including the woods, until the 1930s.

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