I’m going to avoid the currently popular cliches to describe this year, we all know what Covid 19 has done to all our lives. In terms of my mountain biking it made little difference. I’d set myself just 2 targets for the year, one of which I achieved and one I was unable to complete. I wanted to ride a particular route to the top of Great Hill and back down to the start point faster than I’ve managed previously, so in less than 22 minutes and 19 seconds. My bigger challenge was to ride the 47 mile Mary Towneley Loop with it’s 6,500 feet of ascent and descent. This target in particular meant that every ride was a training ride and I definitely noticed an improvement in aspects of my fitness. In the early summer even completed a challenge which I’d set myself for 2019 but was unable to manage. It was the hard and technical climb up Crooked Edge which I hadn’t beaten in years. I made it the whole way without stopping or putting a foot down.
When it came to riding Great Hill faster than ever I got within 45 seconds on an early attempt in damp conditions. A little later I recorded 22 minutes 13 on my stopwatch but found that when I returned home the app. Strava had me at 22 minutes 19 exactly! Strava must have been a little vague in using GPS to determine my start and finish points so I put it down to a technical error and concluded that I’d beaten the time. Just!
Because we were in full lockdown in April when I’d hoped to ride the Mary Towneley I had to delay. I started to think that I wouldn’t get a suitable break in the weather, which had been wet from the beginning of June but in September it was all systems go! I only had one hill of around 500 feet and maybe 6 miles to complete but 3 miles before my final resting place I’d had the rear tyre explode. The sidewall had split and I didn’t carry a spare so had to get rescued from the nearest road by my wife.
In many other ways I had a great year. I pieced together a long, mainly downhill trail from the top of Great Hill which is the best thing I can recall riding. It rode it multiple times, especially in the dry weather in March, April and May and can’t wait for it to dry up again in the spring. I acquired a fifth bike from my son, Dylan. A Trex Fuel EX8 full suspension bike with bigger 29″ wheels.
I’ve set myself 2 targets already for next year but may add more later. One is to ride 4 laps of a local circuit which I’ve been introduced to recently by another Strava user. So far we’ve competed to be fastest for a single lap, trying sneaky short cuts to save time. Next year I want to ride 4 laps of the full, original circuit in less than an hour. It will be a full out commitment of all my energy and riding skills for a full hour and I find the idea exciting. I haven’t ridden the lap in dry conditions yet so I may need to adjust the target time or even number of laps to get the right level of difficulty. I want it to be only just possible.
My second challenge is an even longer ride than the Mary Towneley, though a good proportion of it will be on the road. It will be a ride of over 100km from home taking in Great Hill, Darwen Hill, Pendle Hill (with it’s well documented coven of witches!) and Longridge Fell. I’m not sure how much climbing will be involved though it must surely be over 5,000 feet. 100km of riding on the road by mountain bike is hard enough and with 4 off road hills included I think it will be tough. I’ve ridden 100 miles many years ago (25 years ago?) but that was almost all on the canal bank and wasn’t particularly hard. I maintained a similar pace throughout. I imagine the 100km challenge will be harder.
Happy New Year!