What if you’re tired?

I don’t know why I felt tired today. I didn’t ride yesterday or the day before and dog walking is about the most active thing I’ve done since my last ride. I suppose sometimes you just feel like that, with less than your expected level of get up and go. I firmly believe that you need a tactic to regain your enthusiasm and the first thing to do is just get out there, which for me means a mountain bike ride. So that I don’t just troll around slowly feeling jaded I have a counterintuitive ruse, you put a big effort in on sections of the ride.

Today I started off feeling lack lustre but from early on I upped the pace riding towards my local hill, Healey Nab for it’s network of purpose built trails. I had a fairly steep climb of over 350 feet to the top of the hill and on the first part up open grassland I recorded, according to the app. Strava, my 10th fastest time out of 37. That’s a surprise. I always seem to be riding up that way but apparently I’ve only ridden it 37 times since 2018. At the trail head you have several options and I decided to first ride the Top Loop, where I actually hold the second fastest time ever at 1 minute 30 seconds. Today I didn’t try for a best time but probably put too much effort in after the descent. I was feeling like I had to slow down to avoid burning my legs out on the climb back to the top and could have gone quicker on the bumpy approach to the finish.

Standing at the trail head I made a plan to ride the descent by a longer option because it leaves longer to enjoy the trail rather than riding the shortest, quickest descent. I’d return to the top for another full lap then, before my last downhill, would attempt another Top Loop to see how my 2 times compared.

On the first descent I found a lot of loose stone chips and dust on the trail so tried to keep it sensible. On a combination of corners I thought that I was being too cautious so allowed the bike to enter a right hander faster and the result was a front wheel slide. I could easily have fallen into the corner with the wheel seeming to want to go to the left but instinct kicked in. I kept the steering pointing inwards for long enough to regain grip and balance so managed to stay upright. I didn’t think about this at all, it’s just what my subconscious knows to do, somehow. I suppose practice is the only way to gain such a skill, if a subconscious act even is a skill?

When I reached the trail head again another rider was just starting down and seemed to be going the way I had done on my first lap. He looked good so I was pleased that I caught him up though once he sensed me behind him he upped his pace and I particularly noticed how he was faster around the final corner. I may need to review my technique if others are doing it quicker. I had a smaller slide in exactly the same place as lap one. I climbed back to the top and took 2 pictures before my second Top Lop attempt.

A beautiful day for a bike ride, or just about anything else for that matter.
I virtually never take selfies, after all, I know what I look like!

On my second Top Loop I’d obviously be more tired so I really put the effort in, keeping the pace sensible and sustainable on the climb. I timed 1 minute 49 seconds on the stopwatch but would rely on Strava to compare my times. Unfortunately I later found that for my first loop Strava had started before I got going so my time of 2 minutes 23 was obviously wrong. Fortunately there are other ways to assess you segment times on a laptop from the stored data and I believe my time was 2 minutes exactly. My second loop was given by the app. as 1 minute 51 so I had upped my speed with concentration.

I used the longest descent of all to the bottom of the woodland then set off across the open grass. Ahead were 2 adults with several children and dogs so I slowed to a crawl. I must now be a responsible adult. When did that happen? What could have been a slog turned out, through working harder, to be a worthwhile training ride.

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