Back to the hills.

On my last ride of 22 miles I only climbed 101 feet of ascent. That was mainly during my first and last half miles on my way to the Leeds/Liverpool canal, which obviously doesn’t rise at all, excepting tiny undulations of the towpath. I have a plan for a big and challenging ride which will involve lots of climbing so I thought I needed to get back to the hills today. I planned the whole ride in advance and knew that it had some very steep parts which need massive efforts. It was a trail ride with no specific targets but would allow me to try the pace and difficulty of a long climb which will be part of my big ride.

I soon started with the climbing by ascending my local Hill, Healey Nab, which involves a rise of over 400 feet. I then took a trail alongside a reservoir which undulates with one particularly hard segment, which I was glad to ride up without a foot down or needing to stop. After a short road section I began the climb to Horden Stoops, which is a saddle point on a ridge. One section needs 100% effort if you’re going to get up without stopping. This is a difference between road riding and mountain biking. On the road you can usually decide how much work you’re going to put in but on the dirt the trail may be the deciding factor. This section will be late in my planned big ride with thousands of feet already accomplished. It will be interesting on the day to find if I’ll be able to keep going as I did today, or will fatigue make me walk it? I’d stopped at a gate on the preceding gravel road to take pictures.

There are worse places in the world I could have been.
The natural looking trees on the farthest hill were once a rectangular block of afforestation. Some bright spark chose to set them on fire and the ones which have survived look as if they’ve seeded themselves.

What goes up must come down and I now had a great downhill to ride. It isn’t particularly twisty but the broken ground has you swerving around to find a fast and rideable line. The next long drop to Lead Mines Valley is on gravel but I decided, in fairly dry conditions, to explore an alternative. It was a lumpy sheep track which probably gets walked occasionally and was entertaining. More importantly it had a savage climb which started rocky and turned to rough vegetation and I was determined to beat it. I managed! I rejoined the gravel lower down for a fast drop into the valley. According to the app. Strava I took exactly the same number of seconds on the thrilling segment as on my last attempt. After a short section of stony trail I completed the ride on the road. I’d covered 13.84 miles with a healthy 1,579 feet of ascent but most of this was in the first half of the ride so it was useful training. I should be riding at the weekend though it may have to be a fairly short ride for several reasons.

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