Riding Healey Nab.

It’s good to ride somewhere new but I also love the familiarity of a quality local trail. Today I rode 4 laps of Healey Nab but used different climbs and descents each time. This makes it seem like a longer, varied trail ride without venturing far from home. Last night we had friends round for the evening for the first time in many months. During lockdown I’ve dug a new pond in the garden and we finally had a chance to drink cocktails on the paved terrace. It would have been perfect except for the non cooperation of the 10 goldfish which I’ve bought. Instead of swimming around exploring the pond they insist on hiding by a large water lily. I can only presume that the unseasonably cold water temperature is keeping them in a state of torpor. We’re having a cold, wet May with the jet stream down across Spain when it should, at this time of year, be across northern Scotland or higher. This is keeping us in the Arctic cold rather than basking in warm, tropical air. The water temperature of the pond is only 11 Celcius and I needed to wear a fleece top for today’s ride. I expected the trails to be damp and slippery and also expected to feel tired on my ride.

As soon as I set off I found that I felt full of energy so decided to take the short, steep way to the top of the hill. I was surprised to find the ground was quite dry, with very little mud on the climb. From the top a father and his young son set off down the red graded descent in front of me so I took the shorter black graded trail to get in front of them. Part way down I found 3 guys working on a trail option and resolved to stop next time round to see if I could help. I feel a bit guilty that I ride these trails as much as anyone, confirmed by the “Local Legend” title awarded by the app. Strava for riding some routes more than anyone else, yet have rarely done any digging and building work. Feeling good I took a steep ascent back to the top of the hill and took some pictures.

The red and black graded options branch off a short way from the trail head. The tree felling early last year has left an attractive, natural looking scene.

I rode the red route and stopped to ask Scott, the leader of the trail builders, if I could be of any help. He said that they were only doing a small job today but that there would be a dig day in 2 weeks. I’ll try to get there for this. They’ve cleared some gravel from some of the corners which has left the surface far grippier, which is a good thing. On my third lap I used a longer version of the red route which had been the usual way before the tree felling. It was a fabulous section of trail but something must have changed because whilst it’s still good it isn’t the same as it was. Could it simply be the lack of trees which makes the difference? Feeling energetic I kept choosing the steeper ways back to the top but I think, for a good training ride, you need to have a plan and not just keep riding round. If I’d been timing repeated laps of the same circuit it would have forced me to work consistently and hard, giving the ride more value from a training point of view. Having said that I was having a great time being out on my bike and gave myself a final treat by riding an off piste kind of descent. Before the man made trails existed I’d often ride around the top of an old quarry which descends slightly, linking to a man made climb, which makes a great downhill. The corners are flat, rather than banked, and I prefer this kind of riding. It’s less of a rollercoaster experience and allowed me to find the limit of grip, sliding around the turns. Throw in a few good jumps and a very fast, open segment to the bottom of the hill and I really had saved the best until last. The weather is scheduled to be drier and a little warmer this week so I’m optimistic that I’ll get some good riding in.

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