I’ve waited a few days before completing my first ride this year. The reason for this is that since New Year my son and wife have both tested positive for Covid 19. I started to develop cold symptoms and thought that I must also be infected but I keep testing negative and after a day or so the symptoms of a cold have subsided. Today was beautifully sunny, if a little chilly at around 4 Celcius, and with no rain for some days the trails were bound to have dried up somewhat.
I didn’t want to push myself too hard because I’ve occasionally pick up a cold after a hard ride. This may just be coincidence or perhaps hard physical exercise reduces resistance for a short time afterwards. I avoided a bigger, tougher ride because I don’t want to pick up Covid 19 and hope that my booster in December has been enough to give me protection. 3 laps of my local hill, Healey Nab, would have to suffice.
With plenty of people still on holiday after New Year I was surprised to find myself alone on the trails which still have puddles but were generally dry. It was a joy to ride for 2 laps on different versions of the downhills which have a berm or banking on every corner. For the third descent I rode the red graded climb as a downhill because unlike the bermed, purpose built trails it has a natural feel with flat rather than banked corners. After 30 years or more I made some real improvements to my riding during 2021. Firstly I found that by holding a lower gear and spinning the pedals more quickly I was stressing my muscles less but increasing my breathing rate. I’ve also made sure that I keep practising the basics of cornering technique rather than riding without thinking about it. On the berms today I particularly made sure that I entered the corners with my arms and legs well flexed then pushed my body further from the bike as I went round the turn. This increases the weight pressing down on the tyres and hence the grip available. I tried to time it so that where a corner has a less grippy part I did most of the pushing at that point to give me extra grip where I needed it most.
I covered 9.04 miles with 921 feet of ascent. It was a great first ride of the year and the sky is still blue as I write this.