Any harm done?

Most of us nowadays think about our impact on the environment and wish to do no harm. Mountain biking may be a healthy outdoor pursuit but we can impact on the environs and are often blamed for erosion of the trails, usually by walkers. I get particularly annoyed by riders leaving debris such as food packaging and inner tubes on the ground. These things will not biodegrade in our lifetimes and should always be taken with you. My concern over the last couple of weeks has been towards a different kind of harm, though. The harm I may have done to myself. In the normal course of things I exercise very consistently, year round, but due to a holiday I took a 12 day break from any exercise more strenuous than dog walking. In the past, if I haven’t had use of a bike, I’ve done some running and I did in fact take my running shoes away with me. I did a single run a month or two back and found that I’d over done it. Yes, I can run for 4 miles but I was shocked by the way I’d stressed my leg muscles and the discomfort lasted for days. I’d proved to myself that running is a very different discipline to cycling and unless I trained for both I’d have to seriously limit the length and intensity of a run. For this reason I didn’t run whilst away.

Now back home I went out for my first ride in 16 days, though I did use my pedal powered boat 12 days back. I expected to have lost some fitness but had no idea how I’d feel during and after my ride. The best policy seemed to be to take things easy so I set off with no target other than to ride to my local hill for 3 laps of the trails. Up the first incline on the road things felt normal and I was soon at the bottom of a more difficult off road ascent. I was using little turning force but by keeping in a low gear I was spinning the pedals quickly. This promotes breathing but doesn’t tire the fast twitch muscles, which won’t recover during a ride, even if you rest for a time. It hasn’t rained a drop in a fortnight so the ground was baked hard and I discovered from the app. Strava that my climb was therefore a few seconds quicker than recent attempts. Around the purpose built trails I maintained a good speed though I think this was again due to the dryness of the ground. Even a slight dampness causes drag which holds you back and reduces your speed.

The trails were in top condition, though I had to be cautious in places because dust is not as grippy as a hard packed surface. Recently I rode 5 laps of a circuit with consistent times but today my second lap was faster than any of those laps. I used a fabulous off piste route for my final descent and had had a good ride. My legs didn’t feel any different to normal so I have to conclude that a 12 day break doesn’t seem to have done me much harm. I imagine, though, that if I’d tried 5 laps, I may have reached my limit so perhaps my stamina is somewhat eroded even though my strength seems the same as previously. The solution will be to go out more often, which is a good prospect.


  1. The solution is almost always, ride more! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kirkmtb says:

      Good idea. Although I might have run more had I not read your recent cautionary post!


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