My mountain biking world seems rather small these days. I used to occasionally ride trails centres in North Wales or the Lake District with friends but they’ve all given up riding, now. I was going to expand my horizons this coming weekend with a ride of over 100 km but I’ve called it off because our son is coming home for a brief visit. Instead I chose to ride locally but try to achieve a new target which I’ve set my self. I discovered a segment on the app. Strava last year called “Better than going straight down”. It’s a superb downhill on which I gained a King of the Mountains title for a fastest time by any rider. Later my time was well beaten and the fastest time by the end of the season was 59 seconds compared to my 1 minute 10 seconds. The trail has evolved somewhat so is naturally faster and I’d started to use the new route to drop my time substantially to 1 minute 1, placing me in fourth place. Needing to only improve by 3 seconds to regain the KOM I had to do it so rode to Brinscall Woods today with a plan. I’d ride right to the top of the woods first to use a longer initial downhill before starting my chosen target. I’d check the segment out then do 2 more runs to improve my time as much as I could.
There are many corners on the way down, some wider and others single track. There are some rocks and roots and a broken down stone wall to hop over before the inauspicious finish in the last picture. I’d taken the photos on the first climb, continued to the top of the woods and rode the first, longer part at a medium pace then I launched myself down the 3 drop offs. On the second the bike bucked upwards disconcertingly but I pressed on regardless, railing the first left hand corner on the limit. I made sure I pedalled hard wherever possible and had nothing more dramatic than minor slides, so didn’t scrub speed off. I was relying on Strava to time my efforts but knew that things had gone well. I realised at the bottom that I couldn’t go any faster than this so elected to reduce my commitment on the next run. For my third drop I went back to the top of the area to enjoy the whole descent. I’d had a great ride and continued home over Healey Nab, anxious to see if I’d achieved my target.
Yet again Strava disappointed me. The GPS location just isn’t accurate enough for shorter segments and it didn’t accept that I’d ridden the segment on any of my attempts. The good news is that I could look at my trace and calculate how long it had taken me. 52 seconds! I definitely did it. I won’t see my name in lights on Strava but I did what I set out to do so have to be happy with that. It was a real buzz to ride at the absolute limit with maximum commitment and I can only hope that Strava favours me on my next visit.
On another subject Nacy Pelosi, the speaker of the house of Representatives, is to visit the speaker of our own Houses of Parliament, Lindsay Hoyle, who happens to be the MP for my home town of Chorley. She’ll get to try Chorley Cakes, Lancashire cheese and gorgeous Morecambe Bay shrimps. Her own home town of San Francisco can only offer a closed down prison and an old bridge. A tenuous connection with mountain biking is that if she was to cross that old bridge she’d find herself in Marin County, the spiritual home of mountain biking. It’s a small world.