I’ve identified that I’ve lost some mountain biking fitness this year and am determined to reverse this trend. I’m trying to get out more often and make sure that when I’m out I’m working harder. I think I’ve got into a habit of spinning the pedals quickly but often with insufficient torque or turning force. This is good for a long ride because you won’t wear out the fast twitch muscles which are unable to recover without rest. But by not stressing these muscles often enough this year, I think I’ve reduced my overall performance. My plan yesterday was a simple one. I’d ride for around 2 hours and keep the energy level high from the start. The danger was that I might have reached exhaustion before the end of the ride but I thought I’d take that risk and crawl home if I reached my limit.
I set off to ride Great Hill which would involve 15.8 miles of riding with over 1,400 feet of ascent. I kept the pedals spinning at around 90 rpm which I can estimate after much practice. I also made sure that I was feeling the resistance of the pedals in my legs, not just spinning the pedals with a light force. I was enjoying a more energetic ride and I’m sure that I would have been holding a higher gear than on many similar rides recently. This all means that I’d be going faster which I’d be able to check on the app. Strava later. The ride undulates with the odd short, steep section until I reached Brinscall Woods. Here I began a climb of 730 feet in 2.3 miles where, although the gradient varies, there is no real respite from the ascent.
I was feeling good on the climb and the greater effort seemed within my capabilities. In fact I can tell by looking at my data on Strava that I climbed several parts of the ascent in my fastest time of the year. This doesn’t suggest that I’m fitter but rather that I was more determined which will lead in turn to an improvement in fitness. I took some photos in glorious sunshine whilst at the summit.
The downhill is the best in the area in my opinion. Over 13 minutes of near constant descent which is riddled with features. Drop offs, single track, log hops and corners of all descriptions. I kept the pace and work rate up for a thrilling ride down. Despite rain last week the trails were nicely dry with no real puddles or mud patches. The quality of the trail keeps improving until I reached the superb last section where I set a Strava King of the Mountains time earlier in the year for the fastest descent by any rider. Admittedly, it’s unlikely that anyone has ridden this segment nearly as often as I have. This time I was slower but the fun factor was still there. I decided to use a hard packed trail instead of riding along the woodland route, which may well have been wetter. It was only as I climbed the back of Healey Nab that I started to feel it in my legs before the enjoyable purpose built descent.
Overall I can tell from Strava that I did a good and more energetic ride. My average speed was quicker than any of the 17 times when I rode a very similar route this year or last. I feel hopeful that if I continue to get some proper training like this done then I’ll soon get my fitness back to where it was in 2020 and until the middle of last year.