A good training ride.

The windy weather was bound to have dried the mountain biking trails, at least in the open. I thought it would be good to ride to the top of Great Hill today but not to use my favourite woodland trails on the descent. Instead I’d continue across the open moorland before committing to a particular downhill route.

We even saw some sunshine this morning but it was overcast by the time I’d walked the dog and started to ride. The mainly off road way to the village of White Coppice at the bottom of the hill was only muddy in a few places but I still chose the easier side of the river to Brinscall Woods because the technical side easily turns unpleasant in wet conditions. I used the steep way to the top of the woods and was informed later by the app. Strava that it was my second fastest climb of all time. I’ve certainly improved my riding technique this year by using a higher cadence. Not only am I often riding faster but by using less force to grind the pedals round slowly my leg muscles are feeling less stress and staying fresher during my rides. Exiting the woods I had a close encounter with a small bird of prey, a kestrel. I reached the open moorland above the woods and decided to ride to the top of the hill and back to the start point. I kept the pace up and was about in the middle of all my previous efforts at 27 minutes and 3 seconds.

The Trek 29″ wheeled bike is slightly better at climbing the rough, stoney surface than a bike with smaller wheels though it must be the heaviest bike of the 5 that I have. The mountain biking community seem to be willing to accept higher weight of full suspension bikes to get better suspension performance. Although you may be able to descend a fraction quicker you must lose something on the climbs which has me often choosing my old 26″ wheel bikes for longer cross country rides. At least from the top I had no concerns about weight. The ground was damp rather than muddy all the way down. At a section with sharp rocks, where I’ve had just too many punctures, I was glad that I needed to slow right down for someone who was walking up. At least the tyres would be OK. I avoided some of the woodland downhill because it would have been deep in mud but, almost by accident, pieced together an excellent combination of sections which would have taken me right down to the river. Close to the bottom a fallen branch, just like on my last ride, was blocking the trail. The wood was dry and brittle so I broke most of it away, leaving one bigger branch. I thought I’d need to bring along my folding saw but decided to have a go at snapping it by leaning back with all my weight. It let go so suddenly that I was soon flat on my back. I didn’t mind. At least it will be rideable for me and the handful of other riders who use this fabulous descent.

I rode back over Healey Nab and chatted to another rider at the top. He had a new Pace bike, a 27.5″ full suspension bike which I think are hand made in the neighbouring county of Yorkshire. I asked him to take my picture.

I could feel the effort in the later stages and had ridden for 2 hours, with no breaks. It was an enjoyable ride and I’d found a good route for the winter.

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