If I’m going to be serious about my mountain biking this year I need to improve my fitness. To help me I now have 3 challenges which will help to focus my training. 2 of the challenges are longer distances with lots of climbing whilst the third is a 15 minute affair, which will need speed. Today I decided that, after lots of recent rain, it would be best to stick to the roads, stay drier but still do some climbing.
I set a target of riding to Horden Stoops which is a saddle point where the road rises to a high point from the west. To the north and south the hills rise but they would have to wait for another, drier day. There were a few short climbs on the way to the main event and I could have approached the route in different ways. I chose to ride at a steady level of effort and maintain this throughout. Alternatively I could have varied my effort in a Fartlek style whilst keeping moving. This method is said to aid your mid ride recovery by stressing yourself, perhaps on a climb, then persevering through the tiredness.
Riding with a steady effort I still worked harder on the climbs. The app. Strava estimates your effort on different segments of the ride and confirmed my view, though I’ve no idea how accurate these estimates are. I used a short off road section, which I knew would be hard packed, and reached the big climb. Here I stayed in a higher gear for much of the distance to work the muscles. As I climbed I looked across the moor to “Round Loaf” which is a chambered long cairn from around 3,500 years ago, which places it in the Bronze Age. Some of the moor was once covered in a funereal cloak of non native pine trees. One summer someone set fire to them, leaving some survivors which look strangely natural. This is the view at the top of the page.
Near the top an area of native trees has been planted on the sheep pastures under the premise that they will absorb carbon dioxide. This will reduce our net carbon emissions which will be further assisted by a lack of sheep. I don’t really see that producing less food is a good thing and let’s hope that the arsonists have now grown up.
The downhill was thrilling with a couple of corners requiring use of the brakes. Mountain bikes are not ideal for road downhills because you don’t have high enough gears to keep pedalling. I tucked to make myself as aerodynamic as possible and reached 38.2 mph. By riding continuously, apart from one short photo stop, I had a valuable training ride and could feel the effort on the final climbs on the way home. Referring to Strava I can see that I had ridden various segment in the first, second or third fastest times I’ve ever managed, which is encouraging since I’ve worried recently about my fitness level. I hope to get off road for my next ride.