Should I rise to a challenge?

A few years ago I discovered, through the app. Strava, a local mountain bike circuit. Only 3 riders have ever attempted it but joyfully, on my first serious attempt, I captured the King of the Mountains title for the fastest lap so far. I exchanged the title with “The Otter”, who reduced the time eventually to 13 minutes 58 seconds. In 2021 I was on fine form and managed 4 laps in 57 minutes and 52 seconds. The fastest of these laps was 14 minutes 21 seconds timed on my stopwatch. I’d failed to start Strava at the beginning of the ride so my triumph was never recorded, which is a shame since I would have beaten the then current KOM time even on a 4 lap jaunt. “O” was injured in a road riding accident and in a misplaced sense of fair play I’d decided not to challenge his 13 minutes 58 after he’d set it. Last year something changed and my best time was 15 minutes 10 seconds. It could be that the surface has changed and become slower but since my climb to the finish was some 55 seconds slower than my best I concluded that my fitness was at fault.

I found just yesterday that O had written a message on Strava asking whether his 2 rivals fancied resurrecting this challenge. After a discussion with the third individual he thought that a 2023 challenge may be best. This would mean that the state of the surfaces would disadvantage us all equally. Today I decided to ride the area to make a decision on whether I wanted to accept a challenge. I’d ride to the circuit and go quickly on the first half or so. I could then enjoy a few laps around the tightly coiled trails at Birkacre, completing my circuit on the way home. Despite recent rain the trails were damp but not completely sodden and I worked in an energetic way on the long downhill start. I had to slow for some walkers before the first climb but then made a route finding mistake. I tried to compensate to give me a comparable time and stopped my watch at 9 minutes 18 seconds.

The trails were in fine form for sliding around and I enjoyed a few circuits of the area. I recalled a very old circuit which I rode enthusiatically in the late 1990s when I’d set a time of 5 minutes 15, if memory serves. Today I rode quickly but not full out and it took me 8 minutes and 34 seconds, stopping for a dog walker and extending the route slightly. The time was relatively meaningless but I think it still suggest that the ground was absorbing much of my energy. In dry conditions I’d surely be much faster. When I completed the circuit which I’d started earlier I finished it in a time of 16 minutes 43. Not bad considering that I hadn’t ridden anywhere near my limit. More encouragingly I completed a hill climb towards the end in 5 minutes 52 which was only 9 seconds slower than my full out effort last September.

So am I in any way tempted to rise to the challenge? Bring it on!

1 Comment

  1. Chelle Heart says:

    Sounds like fun and that you’re up for the challenge — I am glad you’re going for it! Keep us posted!

    Liked by 1 person

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