God save the King.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

Her Majesty the Queen passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon. She had been Head of State for ten years before I was born and was a constant symbol of our country, unlike the former politicians who head other states. Just imagine if we had a president. Our most senior ex politician would be Tony Blair who took us to war in Iraq on a story which anyone who thought about it could see was a lie. Many have died and many more had their lives destroyed because of this crime so I’m glad to have a new Monarch. God save the King!

On the first day of the reign of King Charles III it was time for a mountain bike ride and my chosen “Chariot of Fire” was my Boardman FS Pro. It has recently had the chain replaced but still needs a new headset bearing and a bush for the rear shock absorber. I’ve thought about replacing it as my number one bike next year but with these replacement parts it will ride like new so I’m reconsidering. Today I wanted to do a longer trail ride and could assess whether the bike was ever out of it’s depth. I never ride the high moorland on the flanks of Winter Hill and have often advised others not to try it because it is usually boggy. After a dry summer I thought that it may be better than usual so resolved to ride a long moorland trail. We’ve had some heavy, thundery showers in the last week so I was taking something of a risk.

To reach the trail I needed to climb to the “Two Lads”, which confusingly are 3 cairns on Crooked Edge Hill. Riding to this point constituted the bulk of the ride taking 1 hour 11 minutes from a total riding time of 2 hours 4 minutes. It’s nice to be out on a bike but the mainly uphill route was not likely to provide much in the way of excitement. I kept the pace sensible since I’ve finally admitted that I’m not as fit as I was in previous years. I think I relaxed too much once I’d completed my “big ride” which I’d set as a target in January. I wasn’t getting the rides in and often substituted a pedal boat outing for a mountain bike ride instead of using it as additional training. I’m trying to correct the error of my ways as we head into autumn.

The final part of the climb provides the only real challenge when ascending to the Two Lads. The gradient has been steep for a while then turns up savagely. I really didn’t know if I was still fit enough to manage this and the damp ground added additional difficulty. I approached the steepest part slowly and really dug in. I was up! Tragically, as the gradient lessened, I lost my balance on the rutted surface and ground to a halt. It didn’t worry me, though. I’d proved that without a tiny riding mistake I still had what it takes to make this climb so I set off again and reached the summit.

The downhill begins with a good, fast single track but continues on less entertaining trail. The gradient is mainly gentle so I didn’t have the excitement of speed. The wet surface never stopped me but there were a couple of ditches to cross which were impossible for me to ride. Back on firmer ground I had 2 excellent downhill sections. The first was the “Graveyard”, according to the app. Strava, which was built last year but feels very natural. It’s the first time I’ve ridden in wet conditions and it really is slithery. It was more about staying upright than speed but was still a good descent. After a short climb I had the tight turns of the terraced gardens descent. The turns are so tight that it’s best to turn into the corner then grab the back brake to slide the back wheel round. It was tricky in the wet conditions. I used some more off road trails before the final 4 miles on the road.

I wasn’t particularly tired after over 2 hours and could easily have managed another climb and descent. I usually think of a ride with 100 feet of ascent and descent per mile to be a hilly ride. With this in mind today was certainly a hilly ride of 13.85 miles with 1,647 feet of climbing. I was happy to not have exhausted myself but Strava leaves no hiding place. I can see that on many of the climbs I was rather slow so am determined to keep putting the work in to improve my pace before next spring. The Boardman had easily coped with everything I’d thrown at it.

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