A recovery ride, after not riding.

It’s very rare that I leave it 6 days between rides but I have my excuses. I’ve dug a pond in between times and it took a lot more out of me than I’d expected. Had I thought much about it I would have imagined that my upper body would have suffered. I don’t do much heavy work with my arms but as a mountain biker I obviously use my legs a lot. It must have been a different type of work to cycling to dig clumps of soil and clay from the ground into a wheel barrow, take it to the front of the house and load it into a skip. It was a little aerobic but more about stressing the muscles. Why the leg muscles more than the arms, I have no idea. At times I took myself close to the limit of muscle stamina and felt extremely tired, even the day after. I’d set myself the task, though, so I persevered until it was done. I now have a welcome break until a week on Tuesday when we’ll take delivery of some engineering bricks and cement to lay the paving around the water.

The ducks, which usually reside next door, have soon taken up residence. My dog, Freddie, disapproves.

Yesterday we didn’t do much work. We did, however, buy and install a pump and filter. This will be needed since we intend to have fish. The bubbling aerates the water which is also to be helped by plants. We moved a water Lilly from our other pond, which is a nature pond. Today I’ve spent some time thinking and doing little jobs and thought a bike ride would help me to recover from my efforts.

I’m still waiting for the wheels for my Boardman. Ben at the bike shop seems to be having trouble fitting the new bearings but assures me he’ll get there in the end. He’s had them for quite a few weeks now and I need them back but at least I have an alternative. Some enthusiasts, I believe, collect classic bikes with no intention of really riding them. To me it’s all about the ride and after a long, almost totally dry period, there’d rarely be a better chance to use my 25 year old Proflex Attack LE. I rode along the bottom of Healey Nab and climbed the north end to the top. It would have been a good opportunity to climb the shorter, steeper way but I realised that I needed to treat today as a recovery ride and not do the hard routes.

I rode 3 laps of the red graded trail but mixed the details of both the descents and climbs. The Proflex has a limited amount of rather stiff rear suspension but it works well with my homemade fork at the front. I keep some weight pressing down on the unfashionable, very narrow handlebars. This aids front wheel grip. You just can’t go as fast as you could on a modern bike. The narrower tyres don’t bite into the surface nearly as well and you need to run them at a much higher pressure, which reduces grip further. You take more of a beating from the short travel suspension so can’t concentrate as much on pedalling hard. I certainly needed to flex my arms and legs more to absorb the bumpy trails but this is good training. It’s all too easy with a new bike to allow the sophisticated system to do all the work and become a mere passenger. It’s at least as much fun to ride an old bike like the Proflex plus you get to have interesting conversations with other riders. I spoke to one guy on a handbuilt British bike, the name of which I’ve sadly forgotten. It had exposed brazing on the steel frame and appealed to the engineer in me. He said the Proflex was the kind of bike he’d aspired to as a youth. Another rider asked me if he could take some photos of my front fork. He’d never seen the like before. He should come to my shed where 3 out of my 5 bikes use linkage front suspension, as does my scooter.

I could see that it had snowed on Winter Hill last night and as I got home a few flakes fell. I know it’s only weather, not climate but could it be that the current lack of air traffic, especially at night, is allowing the heat to escape? It sounds more likely to me than the argument that 0.04% of the air in the form of carbon dioxide is responsible for warming. I was certainly a lot more tired after a fairly short ride than I normally would have been. I think I still need a couple of days to fully recover from my hard work.

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