Today was predicted to be as warm as 28 celcius which, for North West England, is distinctly warm. We had a rather cool June and early July, at least in the North of England, so now the temperature is about where we’d expect it to be for mid July, which is usually the hottest time of year. Carbon dioxide levels are constantly blamed for the small increase in average temperatures over the last 200 years but having a scientific background (before I opened a restaurant, which summarises my working life in a nutshell!) I feel that carbon dioxide levels are not responsible. This morning, whilst walking the dog along the canal, I took a photo of a far more likely culprit.
Each and every one of the apparent “clouds” in the picture is a dissipated vapour trail from a commercial aircraft. This may not be a problem during the day but at night these substantial area of water droplets act like a blanket. If the sky is clear at night, even in summer, temperatures fall dramatically. Due to the amount of air travel in Britain, Europe and America in particular we may never see a truly clear sky again and hence temperature will not fall as low as they used to. With Freddie the dog happy it was time to ride my mountain bike.
I’d initially thought that I should ride to the top of Great Hill for a 2 hour ride. I wanted to ride for longer than I often do since last week I only rode the bike once then substituted bike riding with a trip in my pedal powered boat. Because of the potential heat I changed my idea to a ride part way up Great Hill with a downhill through the woods, returning to the top of the woods for a second descent. I didn’t feel overly hot on my way to the woodland then climbed steeply to the top, which gave me a chance to inspect the downhill. After riding along the undulating top edge of the woods I had an open, moorland climb. Here the climbing is tough with 3 sections which require 100% effort to keep going. I dug in and made it to the top, easing the pace higher up to try to recover and get my breath back.
The first section of the descent is twisty, natural moorland single track and in the bone dry conditions was very fast. After negotiating the top edge I arrived at my favourite downhill of all. It may only take a few minutes but is full of corners, log hops, rocks and other action. I enjoyed the first half but had a vague plan for the second part. I held the King of the Mountains title, on the app. Strava, as the fastest rider ever on this segment until September last year when my time was beaten by a single second. I’d decided to make regaining the title into a new target for the year but was today the right day? Down the first half there were still some damp, soft patches but I expected the lower portion to be drier. I approached the steep 10 foot drop before the targeted section and let the brakes go. Over 3 rocky drop offs in quick succession and into a twisty section of narrow woodland trail and it all felt good. I worked on the pedals where I could but got to the bottom knowing I could have done more.
I thought that I was taking it easier on the steep ascent which followed than on my first climb but was actually slightly quicker. I again didn’t go mad on the first part of the downhill but really blasted the lower part, pedalling wherever I could. I was a bit too enthusiastic in places and had to hit the brakes a couple of times to keep on the trail but still hoped that I’d be faster. I rode back over Healey Nab for another good downhill and was feeling heavy in the legs after the climbing and sprinting that I’d done. I got back home and downloaded my Strava information to find that, with a target of 54 seconds to beat, I’d managed 50 seconds first time then 51 seconds on the second attempt. I’m not only restored to King of the Mountains but I’ve now achieved 2 of my 3 targets for the year. My wilder riding on the second try had made me one second slower so tends to prove the maxim “smoothest is fastest”, when mountain biking.