Last time out I had intended to ride 5 laps of the trails on our local hill, Healey Nab, but I suffered from a breakage on the bike which I’ve ridden for most of the winter. I ‘d only managed a single lap of the trail so decided to make amends and ride 5 laps this time. I have set myself a challenge for this year to ride 10 laps of the hill with the intention of maintaining a steady pace, reaching exhaustion on lap 10. This will help to focus my mind on fitness and encourage me to train harder, so it must be a good thing. I have 2 other challenges for the year with the same intent.
After a dry February and early March we’re now getting regular and at times heavy rain so I knew that the trails would be muddy. That’s mountain biking, at least in our area. I chose to ride different versions of the lap rather than riding 5 identical laps and the first time round I rode the longer standard red graded trail. I also included the Top Loop on this one occasion. Fortunately the trails drain well so there was little appreciable standing water and not much mud. I took it easy on lap one.
I was making sure that on the long downhill I was using good technique. Lowering my upper body towards the bike on the approach to corners so that I could push away mid corner where I needed the most grip. This pushes the tyres into the surface to improve grip. With the Trek bike temporarily out of action I was riding my Boardman FS Pro. It’s getting a little old after 6 years but still rides well. I’ve maintained it in good condition. The transmission is faultless and over the winter I’ve replaced the headset bearings which had worn out so there really is little point in me changing the bike this year. It would be nice to get something a bit more modern and in the 6 years since this bike was new technology has moved on. I’d expect a new bike to be longer, with a slacker steering head angle and to have perhaps 150 mm of suspension travel compared to the Boardman’s 140/130 mm. I suspect that as technology progresses it’s a case of diminishing returns. My classic mountain bike from 1996 is a very different beast to the Boardman but a new bike would have few differences in terms of ride quality. Maybe next year I’ll prove this theory wrong!
I made sure, as the laps progressed, that I rode quickly on the easier surfaces and gradients but didn’t over stress myself on the tricky, steep parts which require most of your available energy. Looking at the app. Strava I seemed to be as quick on the last lap, where I largely followed the route of lap one, so it seems like I paced my self well. The ten lap challenge will be a big ride and I want to improve my fitness before I undertake it. I will, however, have easier, drier trail conditions to contend with. I’ll make sure that I’ve ridden a couple of fully committed 5 lap versions before I try the big one.