So, what have I been up to since my last post on the 8th ? Well basically I’ve been forcing myself to ride as often and as far as I possibly could. This ended up being about 70 miles in 4 rides. 2 rides at Bedgebury and 2 rides along the seafront near Hastings.
I’ve ridden much, much further, faster and more regularly than I have in years over the past couple of months and for the first time in years I’m noticing myself getting fitter and stronger on the bike. For years I’ve regularly found myself feeling like I’m riding through treacle as my legs start telling me they’ve had enough, the onset of this used to be around 4 or 5 miles, recently I’ve still felt fairly strong up to about 25 miles.
It’s not as if this is some kind of revelation, you ride more, you get fitter, everyone knows that, but when it actually happens it’s a very pleasant surprise. I’ve been riding an extended version of my “seafront” rides this month. My “normal” route is about 14 miles from Hastings to Bexhill and back. I decided to push on further, out to Normans bay (where I took the photo of the cows above) and managed to push the distance to a little over 25 miles on the first ride and around 21 on the 2nd. In both cases I rode out into a strong headwind, but rode back extremely quickly with the help of a tailwind.
My 2nd jaunt along the seafront was like an Autumn ride. A gale was blowing very cold rain in off the sea, my feet were numb with cold, typical English seaside weather really…
Last night I set off to Bedgebury around teatime, knowing that the trail conditions would have deteriorated a fair bit since I went there 9 days ago and found it to be a mud-free zone. I certainly didn’t come back with a dusty bike last night, myself and the bike were caked in mud at the end of the ride. Most of the trails are dealing with the rain pretty well but the fire-roads linking the singletrack sections have turned from dusty & fast to boggy and slow. The few bits that aren’t shaded by the trees and get plenty of sun are holding up well, but there are a lot of trees at Bedgebury and there is plenty of shade for the mud to lurk in.
I rode very quickly last night (by my standards) set several personal best times and finished the ride feeling pretty pleased with my progress. There’s a lot to be said for riding at the same place regularly. Yes it can be a bit dull and predictable, but it does also give you the chance to learn every twist and turn and bump and root and push yourself harder and harder. Because I know Bedgebury so well I ride there with no fear, so I corner much much faster than I would do on a trail I don’t know so well. I really enjoy the feeling of confidence I get from going into a bend fast and knowing where the next two or three twists in the trail are ahead of me and knowing exactly where I need the bike to be and how fast I can let it roll.
So I racked up 13 miles last night which put me on 154 miles in the past 28 days. Even peeling off soaking wet, filthy riding clothes and squelching shoes couldn’t wipe the smile off my face last night.