Back after a week off.

It’s very rare that I take a week off from mountain biking. This only usually happens if I’m away on holiday and in the past I’ve often taken a bike away with me. My most read blog post is an account of a ride in 2019 when I rode the red graded trail at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire.

In the last week, however, I haven’t ridden at all, mainly due to the rain which has made the prospect of a ride somewhat unappealing. In addition I’ve busied myself building my new boat, which you can also read about in several posts. We are also ensuring that our garden is on top form for the coming season. The weather cleared up yesterday, which was beautiful, but I cleaned the pump in one of our 2 garden pond and then found that it had started to leak water. Water and electricity, being unhappy bedfellows, meant that I had to address this issue rather than indulge myself with a bike ride. Today was not sunny but at least it was dry. The sun and breeze have already started to dry the trails after the recent deluge so today I found only the occasional puddle on the well drained trails of our local hill, Healey Nab.

April is often the driest month of the year here in North West England so the recent conditions have been something of a surprise. The spring has also seemed unusually cold so it’s a guarantee that we’ll be told that a cold, wet April is “absolute proof of climate change”. No wonder I’m so sceptical. Cold is not warm. So can I prove that the spring has been colder? Yes I can. I can see from my Flower of the Week posts from last year that the garden is at least 2 weeks behind. I must write a post one day detailing, with evidence and reasoned argument, the true cause of the warming, which has only occurred since the late 1950s.

After 7 days I wasn’t suffering from any fatigue from recent rides, so set off quickly. On the climb to the hilltop trails I did feel the effort so backed off a little. From the trail head I rode the top loop before using the red graded descent. It was on fine form until the lower section where the tree cover had prevented drying. Although I’ve ridden this descent around 500 times since I acquired the app. Strava in late 2018 it’s never the same twice. Today there was some dampness and accumulations of fine, loose gravel on several corners, reducing grip and keeping me guessing about the speed I could retain. A sign that you’re on the limit of grip is often betrayed by the sound of the tyres on the ground. The gravel crackles if you’re pushing the limit and I heard it a few times today.

On lap 2 I saw a rider fixing a puncture a short way down the descent. He was still there on my third and final lap and asked me if I had a good pump. I confessed that I didn’t, it probably needs replacing but was certainly better than his own pump so we got the tyre inflated. It turned out that he and his son were riding E bikes, though he confessed to also owning a traditional mountain bike, an electric trials bike and an enduro motorcycle. He said that since he’d had the E bike he often chose it over the enduro bike, which is interesting. E bikes certainly have their place but for me I prefer the better training value of a pedal only bike.

I had a good ride, finishing with a long, rather muddy descent from the trails. Strava reveals to me that my average speed was rather quick compared to similar previous rides. I hope that this is an indication that I’ve had a better winter’s training than in that previous couple of years.

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