Do I have a problem?

Today had me wondering once more if I have a problem with my mountain biking. I thought I’d go to a fairly small riding destination at Birkacre, the site of a mill until 1939. Since then all the buildings have been cleared, leaving some interesting trails surfaced with grit and dirt. I’ve been riding here for 30 years and still love it for the fairly smooth corners where you can push the bike to the limit in relative safety. The worst that you’re likely to suffer if you go beyond the limit is a bit of gravel rash. It’s not a place where you’re likely to break bones although I once did! I slid on a jump and landed very hard on my side breaking a couple of ribs and a collar bone. This was the accident that told a middle aged man that he at last had to be more careful.

With little sun or warmth the trails are not baked dry but there was little in the way of mud and I easily ascended the first steep climb. Shortly I’d passed through some housing and approached a circuit which I intended to lap. On the app. Strava it’s called “Birkacre race route?” and only 2 other riders have attempted it but I got myself into a virtual race over the last couple of years. I had the fastest time but it was beaten last year by my rival “O” who then had a bad road riding accident. It didn’t seem fair to try to beat his time when he’d be unable to respond but he’s been back in form for long time now, so this year I intend to set a fast time. I approached the start of the lap and that’s when my problem reared it’s head. I found myself really going for it even though that had never been my intention. This is a regular occurrence when I know I’m starting a Strava segment. I ride hard in a race where I’m the only competitor. Should I seek help with my problem, perhaps from a psychiatrist? No way! I absolutely love it.

I was never going to beat the best time with slightly damp ground impeding my progress but I certainly put in a decent lap. I was even encouraged by 2 women as I panted past them on the final climb. Strava told me that it was my third fastest lap though I know that last year I rode 4 fast laps which were each quicker. I’d fumbled with my phone on that occasion and failed to start the app. so my laps weren’t recorded. This time I even got a Strava trophy for the eighth fastest time by any rider on a downhill section of the circuit. In drier conditions it will be another challenge, trying to improve on this. After my fast lap of 15 minutes 53 seconds I relaxed and went back to Birkacre to ride some excellent trails using a short lap, of little more than one minute, 5 times in succession. The 3 downhill corners are perfect for testing the limit of grip and I had some nice controlled slides. I then went to a section of unofficial purpose built jumps where I’d broken the bones back in 2016. The offending area has been remodelled with some berms, some of which are visible below.

Looking back up the twists and turns.

Above is a picture which shows a danger of unofficial, unsanctioned trail building. It’s intended that you take off from the black hump on the right, clear the gap where the bike is standing and land on or after the lump on the left. Success may be a thrill for some but if a less able, fast or confident rider tries it the price of failure is a big one. Hitting the steep up slope is never going to end well. I rode a couple of laps of the berm and jump area and returned home having had a great session. I’ll bide my time before challenging the lap time set by “O” last year. He’s already left me a message on Strava reading…..”Oh no ! Not that again, that’s so 2021 . Actually, great ride 🍍📯 “.

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