Off Road Again.

After some discomfort in my right knee I rode along the canal bank for my last ride. Today I was back off road properly with a ride most of the way up Great Hill, followed by my favourite descent of all through Brinscall Woods. If you’ve read my writing previously you may think that I have a rather limited pallet of mountain biking routes but creating my routes has been a labour of love over more than 30 years of riding the area. I believe that I can guarantee a good ride every time, altering my plan according to weather and trail conditions. In addition those conditions mean that the same trails are unlikely to ride the same twice.

I didn’t think about my planned route after I set off and arrived at White Coppice by a mainly off road ride using autopilot. Another benefit of having ridden this way so many times before. I didn’t meet as many walkers as I’d feared along a straightened river called The Goit so my accidental course turned out to be OK. I then climbed Brinscall Woods and felt no knee pain, though I’ve still been taking Ibuprofen as a precaution. It had taken me around 50 minutes to reach the first significant downhill but that was fine since I knew what came next. The twisty moorland descent isn’t steep but the ever changing surface is always thrilling. I battled along the top edge of the woods to the best part of all.

The picture betrays nothing of the excitement to come.

The downhill begins with a log hop and I immediately saw that someone had tried to create a danger for riders. Over the log a large rock had been carefully placed to catch an unsuspecting rider’s front wheel and send them over the handlebars. I stopped and moved it a good distance away. I started the descent again. It begins with a twisty single track but has over 40 corners and other obstacles in a drop which usually takes of the order of 3 minutes. I set up the segment on the app. Strava and have ridden it with passion many times. I still hold the King of the Mountains title for the fastest ever descent and today set the quickest time this year. I’ve worried since last summer about my seemingly fading performance but can analyse from the app. that I’m getting back on track. Strava is an excellent reminder of your fitness level and an invaluable tool if you wish to improve. I found that I was also doing well on many of the climbs.

I returned over Healey Nab and decided to put in a big effort in on the twisty descent. I managed to recently record 2 minutes and 4 seconds, about as fast as I’ve ever ridden the segment, on my near 20 year old Whyte JW4 bike. I started to think that this lightweight bike was quicker on this particular descent, which has a short climb part way down. I took a second off that time today but admit that I concentrated on speed the whole way down. I’m now excited to see if I can beat this time on the Whyte with a full on assault. The great thing about competing with yourself is that you can never really lose!

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