On my last ride I started in a controlled way and ensured that I still had plenty of energy left in the later stages to keep a good pace up. Today’s ride was always going to be shorter so to get good training value out of it I started more vigorously and maintained the effort for just over an hour. In addition to physical training I wanted to practice some riding skills, particularly ensuring that I entered corners and other tricky sections with the right body shape and also to practice jumping. I rode to our local hill, Healey Nab, for it’s purpose built trails with lots of bermed (banked) corners and quite a number of jumps. It’s easy over the winter to err on the side of caution over jumps by allowing the bike to rise up under you as the ground rises. This is a safe approach, helps to maintain speed but is far less flamboyant than other methods. I noticed on my last ride, which was a trail ride to check out some terrain which I haven’t ridden in years, how I wasn’t using the best technique on corners because that wasn’t what I was concentrating on.
I was quickly up to the trails using a mainly off road route with a fairly steep climb to the top of the hill at 680 feet. I was spinning the pedals at around 90 rpm where I could because this increase the breathing compared to a slower cadence. Slower pedal rotation means that you need to turn the pedals with more force to achieve the same power and hence speed. This method tends to utilise your strength and sprinting muscles which don’t use much oxygen but at a lower force/ higher speed of rotation you use your stamina muscles more which need oxygen in use and so cause your breathing rate to increase. You need to find the best balance of cadence and turning force to suit your chosen ride and hopefully reach the end with tired but not exhausted muscles. Breathing harder saves your muscles from exhaustion, strange as it may seem.
On the downhill sections I made sure that I kept my upper body close to horizontal. I can apply some downward pressure on the handlebars in this position and vary this force to balance front and rear wheel grip. On the jumps I extended my legs on the upslope of the jump so that the wheels left the ground far more than if I’d absorbed the jump by allowing the bike to rise up under me. On the corners I practiced going into the corners close to the bike and extending my legs and arms on the turn. Pushing the bike into the ground like this increases grip, ultimately allowing you to go faster. I had to be cautious on my favourite section of twists because it’s well overdue for a sweep to remove the loose gravel.
On the climbs I used some very steep sections rather than taking longer and easier options. On such ascents you need to use near maximum muscle power which must surely be useful strength training. It was a good little ride with a chance to train for riding skills, stamina and strength. The sun is still shining as I write and this situation should continue for another 9 days at least.