Getting ready for winter mountain biking.

The weather isn’t too bad at the moment. Today has been dry with the temperature at 12 Celcius and a light breeze. These are good conditions for a mountain bike ride because I was never going to be too warm or too cold. Having said that it’s no longer summer and the trails are damp, especially under trees. This changes the nature of riding because you get so much less grip and what there is is unpredictable. My wheels were skipping around on wet stones and muddy patches were giving a sudden drop in the level of grip. I chose to ride to the Rivington area with it’s Victorian terraced garden, laid out in a Japanese style. I climbed by the gardens to the high point of Rivington Pike at 1,190 feet. A chilly breeze on top had me setting off down without taking a customary photo. The picture above is from another recent visit.

I used to ride down over a series of rocky drop offs but have decided that, although I’m still capable of riding them, I don’t want to take the risk. It now seems like a bad idea to risk injury and time off the bike if things went wrong when the payback for riding down successfully is what? Bravado? It’s unimportant if I’m the only one who knows I’ve ridden down. Fun? The worry and fear would make it no fun at all. Instead I used an alternative which still carries some risk on a rocky surface but at least I was in control of the risk level by controlling my speed. I then rode along to Wilderswood for my former favourite downhill section. It’s still good but what used to thrill me was repeatedly trying to beat my fastest time. Fortunately I now know several better downhills in the area but in current trail conditions they are not at their best. I knew I’d get a good ride in today but I really need to prepare for winter riding. What I do is make sure I chose the right trails with less mud and slippery obstacle like rocks and roots. This way I can still enjoy testing the limits of grip but with less risk of sudden catastrophic slides.

I never like to let my riding fitness drop so I need to keep going all winter and fortunately have a good knowledge of local trails. It’s rare I get the chance to ride further afield but I’m lucky to have so much good riding accessible from home. I often think that I know every trail option but over the last couple of years I’ve made some great discoveries. I used to often find myself exploring the unknown in winter conditions but this is not the best idea. A new trail needs to be ridden in the best conditions to show what it has to offer so I’m likely to be riding the familiar for around 5 months until things improve.

I worked quite hard today so it was a good return to training after having my second cold in quick succession.

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