Bike or boat in the wet weather?

We’ve had an awful lot of rain recently and the ground is thoroughly soaked. I wondered whether I’d be better to use my pedal powered boat for exercise since the mountain biking trails would be in a bad state.

There were many years when I had the alternative of mountain biking or running but when I sold my business I found myself with daylight hours for exercise so ran very little, to the point where the only running I’ve done for many years has been to catch up with the dog and keep him out of trouble. Having built and developed my boat this year I now have a viable alternative but chose to ride my bike today. It’s obvious that, rain or shine, the water is equally wet but I have to get to the local canal first and the latter part of the route could be muddy with soaking weeds hanging over the path. In addition, if the heavens did open, the bike would still be a less unpleasant option. It would have been foolish to venture off road to collect vast amounts of mud on bike and clothing so it would have to be a road ride.

To go somewhere towards the mountain biking experience I like to put some steep hill climbing into a road based ride and I’ve often circumnavigated our local hill, Healey Nab. Here you need to climb to 791 feet looking down on the Anglezarke reservoir, which is over 100 feet higher than the summit of the Nab with a continuous 300 feet climb in 0.8 miles. The average gradient is only 1 in 14 but the first half of the ascent is around 1 in 8 (12%). Even with mountain bike gearing you need to get up out of the seat to vary the way you utilise your muscles. I felt some fatigue riding in the saddle but then stood on the pedals for a while until I again felt the effort. Returning to a seated position I was fresh again. Varying between seated and standing is a big help on a steep climb. At the top I stopped for a picture.

Amusingly the sign reads “Leave clear, access required at all times”. Ever the rebel I blocked access for several minutes.

Now I had a descent exactly the same height as the ascent. I know this because I started to climb at one end of the reservoir and dropped to the opposite end. After this it’s an undulating rural route back home. I was noticing the gaps between the gears on my recently replaced transmission. I chose a transmission with a 10 speed cassette at the rear but only one chainring at the front. The overall range of gearing is less than the old 3 X 10 which it replaced but the gaps between gears on the wide range 11-46 tooth cassette are bigger. It’s strange how when I’m off road I always seem to have the right gear but on a road ride I feel like I need an in between ratio. It shows that I’m concentrating on different things in the 2 environments and I have to say that I’m a much bigger fan of the dirty option. Still I got a useful workout in a short 54 minutes of riding time. I’m not sure when I’ll get off road again since even with improving trail conditions I’ll be keen to get out in the boat before it’s too cold for that to be an appealing option.

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