Boxing day ride.

Boxing day has always been associated with sport, which for many people means spectating. I’ve always preferred to participate than watch sport and today would be no exception. I’d thought on Christmas day that it would add spice to my ride to try to break the fastest time on the Birkacre Race Route circuit but this morning the idea had lost it’s appeal. Yesterday started frosty but by the evening had warmed up considerably. The mud was likely to be as bad as on my last attempt at the route but I wasn’t sure that my performance would be any better. To be honest Ali and I didn’t overdo things yesterday. By the evening we were tired and didn’t feel like eating after our substantial lunch. I decided instead to do a more relaxed ride to Healey Nab for a couple of circuits of the manmade trails. I always like to give my rides a purpose but today the only justification was to get out in the fresh air. The exercise would do me no harm and I would take my mileage on Strava over 1,500. This may not seem a great deal compared to a road rider but off road riding is slower so each mile is at least twice as hard to achieve.

The figures can’t lie. In 123 rides I’ve climbed more than 5 times the height of Mount Everest!

I rode to the north end of the hill and climbed to the summit. It was very muddy but at least I managed, just, to ride the whole way. The descent was treacherous with deep mud offering no real grip on some of the turns. I still gave some thought to technique on the more gritty surfaces. I made sure I kept some pressure down on the handlebars to aid front wheel grip and looked for the points on the trail which would offer a bit more adhesion and did most of my turning there. That way I could go much straighter across the obviously slippery patches. I don’t imagine that riding in these conditions will improve my ability come summer but at least I was helping my fitness and familiarity with the on bike experience. I completed the lap to the trail head and since I’d only seen 2 other riders on the hill, thought it was safe to ride the red graded climb as a downhill. It’s probably a better downhill trail than the official version which I’d ridden on my first lap. I was sliding both wheels together in places which is the feeling I like the best. I rode carefully down the open field back towards town. It was deep in mud and I didn’t fancy sliding to the ground in a pool of wet clay.

At home I got a small ego boost by looking at the app. Strava. A lap entitled New Red was added this year but unfortunately it also lists fast times from the past. You can, however, look at figures for this year after the area was devastated by tree felling. Here I place second fastest! In the muddy conditions this month I also place second but I know that the rider in first has recently acquired an E bike. I too could go faster with the help of an electric motor. The only real surprise from Strava was the discovery that one other rider has ridden the circuit more in the last 90 days than me. I’m hoping for one more ride this year.

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