Short but sweet.

I’ve been continuing to work hard on some non mountain biking projects which has left my leg muscles feeling somewhat jaded. I’ve sold the pedal powered dinghy which I built in 2021 and have engaged on the build of an exciting new boat. The building process is very physical but I’m enjoying the process, which will probably take another 2 months before I get the boat on the water.

I wanted to get out on the bike but chose an unusually short route to The Yarrow Valley Country Park at Birkacre. Fortunately the riding here is my favourite type with lots of at the limit cornering. A problem with a short route is that I know it won’t take too long, so I naturally increase the energy. I certainly knew that I’d worked hard later in the evening because I got the most savage cramp down the backs of my thighs. It was a scene I’ve experienced increasingly as I’ve got older. I moved an inch to stand up and was completely paralysed for several minutes. I was thirsty and seemed to gain relief by drinking lots of water. I can’t imagine that I was lacking electrolytes though I now know that the balance of electrolytes and water is the key. Water alone in not adequate.

We are enjoying a record breaking dry February but have had some rain over the last few days. It has dampened the ground but hasn’t left us with any deep mud. The relatively smooth surfaces at Birkacre are either slippery because they’re damp, like yesterday, or slippery because they’re dusty. Perfect then to reach my own personal nirvana when the tyres scrabble for grip and the ground starts to feel like a fluid underneath you. I approached one corner which is downhill on entry, turns through more than 90 degrees and exits up hill. I started to brake then let the brakes go and entered the corner. I was hanging a leg out to avoid disaster in case of a slide but didn’t need it. In the blink of an eye the front wheel slid but the rear then slid to scrub off enough speed to save the day. Perfect. These tiny moments of terror are what it’s all about. The consequences if it all goes wrong would likely be a loss of a little bark on the elbows or knees but I consider it a risk well worth taking.

On the return home I put some effort in on a 5 minute long climb. I don’t know whether it was the damp ground or my exhaustion which meant that my time, despite a big effort, was rather slow. It’s hard to know if I should rest over the next week or just push on through.

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