They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing but can too much knowledge also be harmful? I use the app. Strava to record my mountain bike rides and it provides masses of information. I’d looked back at the data from recent rides and found that my average speed was slower than normal. Looking further into my times for individual segments revealed a similar picture. Despite the almost dry trail conditions my times were rarely impressive and I started to wonder if I had lost fitness. My weight varies very little and by riding year round I hope to maintain a steady level of fitness. It could, of course, be that I’m not getting any younger and perhaps need to accept a, hopefully, gradual decline in performance. The best plan for today seemed to be to up the effort and see how I did. On my last ride I’d ridden for a little over 2 hours at a slightly disappointing pace but due to other commitments I lacked the time to repeat the same ride but would ride a similar route without ascending to the top of Great Hill.
I started at a good pace even though, only 2 days after my last ride, I still felt some fatigue in my legs. As the ride progressed I shook off this feeling. Perhaps I just needed to get my muscles moving or perhaps it was the psychological effect of having a job to do in the form of a quicker ride. I rode the undulating mainly off road route to the far end of Brinscall Woods and climbed the steep way. My time was fifth fastest of 33 previous efforts even though I was not wanting to burn out less than half way through the ride. It was a consistently similar picture on other segments and I even recorded a fastest ever section on the return leg.
The highlights of the ride was the decent of the woods. The slips, skips and slides were proof that I was riding on the ragged edge where the real thrills are. I recorded the fastest time by anyone this year on the lower part according to Strava, beating by 1 second the very person who snatched my King of the Mountains title by a single second last year. Today I was 8 seconds below that speed but it must surely be a target later in the year when the trail is fully dried. On the return leg I slid to the ground on a tricky, still muddy corner with no injury to myself or the bike. I don’t know if you have to fall off a certain number of times in the year but if so that was a good one to have counted towards the total.
My conclusion back at home was that my fitness is about where I’d expect and I simply haven’t worked hard enough on some of my recent rides. My average speed was the second highest of 13 similar rides which Strava identified. A rider and a walker commented about how glorious it was to be out on such a day and I fully endorsed their opinions. Mountain biking is almost always good but in weather like today’s it’s just that little bit more special.