Making the most of the autumn.

After discovering that my fitness had fallen compared to previous years, I’m now determined to train harder during the autumn and forthcoming winter. I rode 5 fast laps of a hilly circuit this week and 2 days after wanted another challenging activity. Great Hill rises to 1,253 feet and gives me a 16 mile, almost exclusively off road ride. The total elevation gain was 1,443 feet, beginning with 5.4 miles of undulating terrain, then the long and continuous climb to the high point.

Before the ride I’d received an new bottom bracket because the pedal cranks had become very wobbly. The Trek Fuel EX8 uses a press fit bottom bracket so it just needs to be knocked out, rather than unscrewed. It sounds simple but the tightly fitting bearings provide considerable resistance to your efforts. You can buy a special tool for around £60 but they turn out to be a piece of steel tube with a slot cut in one end. I have plenty of such tube in my workshop so built my own for previous removal tasks. After removing the old bearings and replacing with new, my conclusion was that I’d be reluctant to buy a frame with press fit again. It’s an inferior way of doing things. You can’t beat the good old BSA, threaded alternative.

I was well over the trauma by the time the big climb started and I rode it at a steady pace. The damp ground provided plenty of resistance but I was fresh enough when I reached the summit. The descent is my favourite, taking around 15 minutes or slightly more in the autumnal damp. Although slippery it was still fabulous riding with plenty of slides for excitement. I was feeling the results of my effort so far on the return towards the shorter climb over Healey Nab. I didn’t wait at the top and threw myself into a fast descent. You can shave quite a few second off the 2 minutes or so which the downhill takes. It just required me to concentrate on hard pedaling on any of the sections where pedaling is possible. With a little risk taking on the mainly banked corners I was 6 seconds quicker than any of my 5 descents on my last ride. It was an excellent ride. Summer conditions may seem like a better prospect but the difference in overall ride quality is small.

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