An old school ride.

In the 1990s, when I used to ride my mountain bike with friends, we’d often loop around town to link some classy sections of trail together. We aimed to keep the route as much off road as we could and that was the kind of old school ride which I undertook today. I wanted the ride to have some good training value, which it would always have had when riding with others, so rode continuously to get my body used to recovering from the bigger efforts whilst still putting some work in.

I didn’t loop around the whole town of Chorley but just the area of housing known as Eaves Green, which was developed from around 1980. First, though, I entered the former parkland of Duxbury Hall and rode past the site of the hall which still has its out buildings. The hall itself became the victim of damp in the cavity walls, which rendered it structurally unsound, so it had to be taken down in 1952. The building had been used to store mining explosives during the second world war and was then left unused for a few years, which allowed the problem to develop. It was certainly damp enough to cause some slides on the bike today.

I enjoy a slide. It proves that you are at the limit of grip and so also the limit of possible speed. If you’re nervous at the limit it might help to lift your inside leg from the pedal and hang it out. If the front wheel slides the bike will tend to fall into the corner when your foot will clip the ground. By reducing the weight pressing on the rear wheel as your foot touches you will reduce the grip which that wheel provides. The wheel will start to slide and reduce your speed thus allowing the front wheel to regain grip. This genuinely works but takes thousands of times longer to type than it takes to happen! You need to relax and trust that you won’t end up on the floor, keeping the front wheel pointing around the curve. I accept no responsibility for any loss or injury, howsoever caused, whilst trying this! It worked for me more than once on today’s ride.

In the summer I tried to ride a lap of a circuit at a fastest ever time and failed conspicuously. I was fast on the downhill but way slower on the climb to the finish. Today I rode this same climb and put some real effort into it. I think that I simply hadn’t worked my muscles hard enough in the summer because I was spinning the pedals quickly to promote breathing. This may be good in an endurance event but on a climb of 5 or so minutes I should have attacked it far harder and felt some pain. By referring to the app. Strava I could see that today I was faster, despite the wet ground, than I had been on all but one of my attempts this year. This gave me a confidence boost because it shows me that my fitness may not have fallen as much as I’d feared. Rather I need to work harder.

It was a surprisingly good ride for the first day of meteorological winter.

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