I have a target to meet this year in the form of a bigger ride than I usually do. I want to climb the height of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, in a ride around the local hills. 2 years ago I rode the same kind of distance and ascent when I attempted the Mary Towneley Loop which is about 30 miles away but this time I’ll be on more familiar territory. There are certainly 4 climbs on my planned route which require 100% effort to ride without getting off and I don’t know whether I’ll be able to complete them all in a single ride but I won’t beat myself up about pushing the bike on the absolute steepest parts. Today I wanted to do some climbing on my ride because I haven’t exactly trained for my big ride recently. I was off the bike for a week when I rode by scooter to Europe and the app. Strava is always there to remind me that I probably am not at my best but with only a minimum of 4,406 off road feet to climb over around 40 miles I hope I can rely on my base of fitness, which I maintain year round.
Today I wanted to ride my favourite downhill in Brinscall Woods and thought that I’d climb the woods twice to get double the downhill thrills. I rode towards the woods on bone dry ground and chose a technical segment to test my skills just before I reached the trees. I took the wrong line on the hardest step up and ground to a halt so I had a second try and things went much better. You sometimes have to learn and memorise every rock and stone on the ground if you are to make it up a technical part without stopping. I must have a head full of such details which serve no other purpose. When I reached the woods and was climbing up the gravel fire road I decided to turn right to use a really steep ascent.
I was giving it everything and made it with only one stop when I over balanced on a tricky gradient. Next came the section up to the dirt road which climbs up Great Hill and this is another very hard part. I’d stopped at a stile to get my breath back but reached the absolute limit as I climbed afterwards. I was so tired higher up that I was having to go very slowly even when the gradient had slackened and wondered if I’d recover at all during the ride. It would be no good on a longer ride to reach a point of no return, so more climbing later would let me know how well or if I’d recovered. Next came the fantastic down hill.
It starts as rocky moorland single track, undulates along the top of the woods then plummets to the bottom with more corners, log hops, roots and drop offs than you can shake a stick at. Fabulous! After all the extra tough climbing I didn’t want to ride back up so went home over Healey Nab. I had reasonable pace ascending the back of the hill and on the final road based climb so clearly I’d recovered fairly well from my climbing efforts earlier. I’m hoping to do the big ride before next weekend and will just have to take it easy, especially early on. I’ll also need to think about food for the ride because you can certainly get your energy back by eating well. Today I had a great ride covering 11.82 miles with 1,096 feet of ascent.