When you just need to get out.

For a variety of reasons I haven’t done any exercise more strenuous than dog walking for 5 days. I stayed away on Friday night, then had a busy weekend with rainy days so I couldn’t get out on either bike or pedal powered boat. Today we were also told to expect showers before a more settled period of weather until at least next weekend. I decided to ride my mountain bike before walking the dog because it was more likely to be showery early and riding in the rain isn’t particularly unpleasant. I can walk Freddie in the more clement conditions this afternoon.

I just needed to get out so I didn’t have any particular targets. A trail ride on fairly easy terrain seemed like a good idea. Of course in our hilly area there would always be some climbing to add difficulty to proceedings and I had the option to ride different segments of the ride at a variety of paces. This type of riding is often given the Swedish name “fartlek”, meaning “speed play” and you can either pre plan faster sections or simply play it by ear, as I did today.

I rode for 11.81 miles, almost exclusively off road but by riding along the River Yarrow for much of the ride I only accumulated 722 feet of ascent. There were still some short but steep climbs to get the blood pumping and plenty of other undulations. What the ride lacked was any challenging terrain and there were very few corners to add interest. On the way home I knew that I’d ride the second and final climb which features on a lap which I’ve set as a target for this year. I want to beat the best time on the app. Strava, which stands at 13 minutes and 58 seconds. My best time is currently 14 minutes 32 but I rode 4 laps, each in under 15 minutes on a ride last year so I thought that a single lap under 14 minutes was a good challenge. My only attempt so far this year was a couple of weeks ago and I was surprised to find that I could only manage 15 minutes and 10 seconds. I blamed my new rear tyre for causing too much drag and have resolved to ride the lap on a different bike which is lighter and has narrower tyres. Today, though, I wanted to see if I could go any faster on the Boardman FS Pro which I’d used last time on the climb so made a big effort, riding at the kind of pace I’d hope to do on a fast lap attempt. I beat my time by 8 seconds but this was still 39 seconds longer than my best ever time so I’m still blaming the rear tyre!

I hope that by matching my best ever time on this climb and also by climbing the other longer climb at a good pace that I’ll be able to take off the 73 seconds from this year’s attempt which I need to achieve my target. I find it quite exciting to have this rather trivial challenge and am now waiting for perfectly dry conditions for another attempt.

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