Late last year I noticed a rider trying desperately hard to set a fastest ever time on the app. Strava. We follow each other’s progress though we have never met and before he managed to grab the King of the Mountains title for a fastest ever lap I had a go at it and accomplished the feat. My rival, let’s call him “O”, then took my title by a full 2 minutes. As the weather and ground conditions worsened in the early winter I had an attempt to regain the crown but was 12 seconds slower than the 15 minutes 33 seconds I needed. On my ride before last I returned to the area and rode a lap, intending only to check conditions on lap one. I found myself speeding up but was still too slow. I’d lost GPS contact anyway so Strava didn’t accept that I’d ridden “Birkacre Race Route?”, the circuit in question. “O” then sent me a reminder of the existence of the route via Strava, as if I needed reminding. After this gentle goading I knew it was time for a serious attempt but I had a problem.

We are currently remodelling an area of the garden and it’s hard work. Last night I was In bed before 10 pm and didn’t really want to get up when the alarm went off. I’m not used to feeling so tired but resolved to ride the lap regardless. I thought I shouldn’t take it all too seriously but nonetheless found myself emptying the water from my back pack to reduce weight and setting the rear shock absorber pressure since it has a slow leak. I rode the easy way to the start of the lap and committed from the start.

The ground is drying up though some mud patches still slowed me. I soon reached an exciting, fast decent but found a gate closed at the bottom. On the next section there were lots of walkers, some with small children in tow, so I had to keep it slow. I changed onto the smallest of 3 front chainrings on a steep climb and tried to change back to the middle ring at the top. The cable snapped leaving me stuck with only the lower gears. I wouldn’t now be able to get much speed up but I knew that most of the second half of the lap would be climbing so I resolved to carry on.

I couldn’t spin the pedals fast enough in places so lost some speed but I could tell on the long climb that I was pacing it quite well. By the end I was breathing very hard and really feeling it. I found in my eagerness that I’d forgotten to start my stopwatch at the start of the lap so had to get home to see how well I’d done.

Despite being tired and my problem with the bike I’d beaten the target by 1 minute and 1 second. I felt it during the lap but enjoyed the endorphin high afterwards, especially after I’d seen that I’m King of the Mountains again! I left a note on Strava likening myself to King Charles II regaining the crown after the rule of commoner Oliver Cromwell. I do hope “O” has some knowledge of English history.