Training again.

My last ride involved 5 laps of a 10 minute circuit with 178 feet of ascent on each lap. It was an excellent training ride and I wanted to do something as good today. I haven’t yet succeeded in my challenge to ride a local circuit in under 14 minutes, which I set as an objective in January, so need to keep my fitness at the right level. Today would test my stamina in climbing 1,484 feet in 15.53 miles. The app. Strava tells me that I’ve ridden a similar route 26 times previously over the past 4 years. I’ve realised that I may not be able to try for my target before I go away for 10 days or so, starting next Monday, and I won’t have a bike to ride in that time. If I can’t get out on Friday in dry conditions then I’ll have to hope that I don’t lose too much fitness, with only running to sustain me whilst I’m away.

Today I rode to the top of Great Hill, which rises from 300 feet above sea level to 1,251, with a few additional undulations on the way and a return over Healey Nab. We’ve had some rain over the last 2 weeks and the ground was a little damp in places. After an easy few, mainly off road, miles I took the technical side of a river to reach Brinscall Woods. Riding an undulating, rocky and rooty trail requires the same kind of physical effort as climbing up a hill, so adds to the training value. It’s also an interesting challenge to see if you can make it without a foot down, which I was unable to do today. I maybe need more belief, then I’ll manage it.

The climb up Brinscall Woods fire road is steep, on a gravel surface but the hill is unrelenting from this point, all the way to the top. 40 minutes of near continuous climbing might cause some to question why they were doing this but I like to push myself. Even better, once at the top I had over 15 minutes of almost completely downhill riding on fabulous trails. I chatted to another rider for a while at the summit. He was doing a long ride and intended to ride straight down to White Coppice, at the foot of the hill, visit Healey Nab then ride over Winter Hill at 1,498 feet to take a high speed descent which has become known as San Marino. He pointed out that some fools ride up San Marino and questioned why. I was able to tell him since I did just that a few weeks ago! I boasted that I rode the whole ascent without a foot down, as well.

You need to enjoy your own company to come up here. Amazingly, until the early 20th century there were farms higher up the hill than this position.
On the horizon is Round Loaf, a man made mound dating back 5,500 years. That’s more than 2 millenia before Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt!

I had a great ride down, taking 17 minutes. The whole route is full of drama and excitement with a wide variety of trails from fast gravel to tight single track. I was, however, left wondering about my choice of rear tyre. My best time on the descent is 13 minutes and 20 seconds which is a lot faster than 17 minutes. Could it be that the tyre is dragging enough to slow me down? I certainly have thought this before and I don’t think that I’d put too little effort in. On the way back I was distinctly tired and took it slowly up the back of Healey Nab, where I met the same rider at the top as I’d met on Great Hill, The tyre, a Vittoria Mota, gives excellent grip and braking but if it holds me back and tires me out then I have to wonder if it’s the right choice. I enjoyed my ride but next time will try the route on a different bike to see if this affects my speed.

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