My last ride was a race but only against myself. I’d set a target to ride 4 laps of an off road circuit in less than an hour and managed to do it in 57 minutes 52 seconds. It may have been too easy to achieve but I certainly pushed myself and was spent by the end. I thought that today it would be good to do another ride with a value in terms of training and considered rides where I could keep the pace up the whole way. The weather, however, has remained good and temperatures in the mid 20s are warmer than we’re used to. I didn’t want to dissolve in a sweaty heap but found a useful alternative, a Fartlek ride. I tried one a while ago and felt that anything with the word “fart” in it has got to be good for those of us who like the lavatorial, and lets face it, who doesn’t?
If you’re not familiar with the concept it’s an unstructured form of training best done on familiar terrain. You split the exercise into sections and you decide the pace for each part, as you feel fit. I started gently enough on the road but at the bottom of the first significant hill I upped the pace. I felt the burn by the top but took the remaining road section slowly to then work hard on a trail alongside the river Yarrow. Riding this trail at pace certainly added some spice to an easy enough segment. I was striving to maintain the effort over rooty and rocky part of an otherwise smooth trail. I dropped my pace at the end for the climb out of the valley, only accelerating again on the steeper climb to the top of Healey Nab. A delightful effect of all this is that when you refer to the app. Strava later you find that you’ve set loads of best ever times for different parts. You may have relaxed for much of the journey but on those crucial segments you were working unaccustomedly hard. I even got a Strava trophy for a fifth fastest ever time, and fastest of all this year, for a gorgeous downhill.
Having descended the hill and climbed back to the trail head I met another rider who asked me the easiest way back down to town. After a brief chat it turned out he was new to mountain biking and lacked confidence. I assured him that the red graded trail was all rollable (is that a word?) and if he took it easy needed no special skills. I demonstrated the riding position he should adopt and then rode the top loop. I caught him up on the red descent later where he’d got nervous on a rooty drop. I showed him how I’d do it and completed another lap. When I got back to the trail head he’d taken the quick push up route back to the top for another go. Maybe one more will join the flock? I asked a couple of riders who I chatted with to take my picture.
Using the Fartlek training method I’d set 6 best ever times on Strava segments and had a good old time. I’d even had my picture taken but the sun was so bright that it basically defeated my camera. Lets hope the good weather continues until at least October.