No, I haven’t just done a mountain bike ride with 6,000 feet of climbing but this week I’ve climbed a total of 6,104 feet, almost exclusively off road. I set off today having already completed 4,470 feet in 2 rides so made sure that I climbed enough to get me over 6,000 feet. There’s no barrier but it’s a decent figure and is substantially more than you’d climb ascending Britain’s highest mountain. I had no other targets for today’s ride so it was a trail ride, pure and simple.
I knew that if I climbed Great Hill and descended I’d have covered around 15 miles but would be slightly short of the height I needed for my target so planned a longer route with an extra climb. It turned out to be better than I’d hoped for. It’s easy to forget the details of a trail when you don’t ride it often and although we’ve had quite a lot of rain over the last few days the surfaces were still on good form. First I needed to get to the top of Great Hill at 1,251 feet so since I live at 300 feet and there are some undulations I had already climbed over 1,000 feet. Off road climbing is harder because the soft ground resists you in addition to gravity. The metric system of measurement allows for easy calculation, so how much energy would I need to overcome gravity? Let’s assume that the bike and rider weigh 100kg (I know!) and that I’d climbed 300 meters. The energy needed is given by mass X acceleration due to gravity X height. 100 X 9.81 X 300 = 294,300 joules of energy. So in about 4,000 seconds I used 73.575 watts just to overcome gravity on average over the whole period. Plus the resistance of the ground, friction in the bike and cutting through the air the power needed must be greatly higher. The reward came quickly after I’d taken some pictures at the top.
It was so bright on top that I couldn’t see anything on my phone but made it work by instinct. Quite why it looks so dark I don’t know. I dropped down a stone slab path and at the bottom of the first descent turned right on a moorland single track. What a thrill! The gradient isn’t steep but on the dry ground there’s loads of speed. The narrow track twists and turns with the occasional rock and little drop. I wasn’t sure if there were any dangerous obstacles so kept a sharp eye on things. The downhill goes on for a good while and starts to follow the embryonic Black Brook, a stream which joins the River Yarrow a few hundred yards from home. I didn’t find a way to climb out of the valley so followed the trail to some rocky sections where I couldn’t always keep it going. I came to a familiar steep ascent then crossed the moor on a still entertaining single track. I’d dropped low towards the village of White Coppice at the bottom of the hill but turned uphill to cross to Brinscall Woods.
What I’d just ridden was fast and open and I had my favourite descent of all to come to the stream below Brinscall Woods. This trail is twisty and full of action from top to bottom. I rode back home over Healey Nab, my local hill. According to the app. Strava I’d ridden 17.15 miles with 1,634 feet of ascent. My estimated average power was a mere 106 watts which must be a scandalous falsehood! Still, over 6,000 feet of climbing in a week and a thrilling ride where I rediscovered some superb trail lessened my disgust.