A Challenge Ride Off Road With Dave Lacey, Proving "Having a Target Brings Dividends"
Today I rode a Mountain bike challenge, think short hilly off-road sportive. The ride is to part of the fund raising activities for Halifax Rotary Club, and is the first of a number of local events supporting various charities.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve struggled with hay fever and more particularly feeling fatigued as a result of taking Hay fever tablets, and had been in two minds whether or not to take part as I lacked confidence in my fitness, but my sister’s partner, who also rode today, persuaded me to give it a go.
Looking back over the records for similar previous events I set an objective of an average speed of 14.3kph (8.89mph) as this is my average speed over all the previous such challenges, or less then 2:30 hrs, and not to feel completely broken towards the end.
A mass start saw about 150 plus riders heading over a football field towards a 2ft gap in the wall, the queue that the developed was a welcome relief from the heavy going grass, once through the gap a track lead to the first proper off road section, Greetland and Norland moors. This is a sandy, rutted and stony track with a number of different lines, non of which are that good. My legs felt very heavy over this ground and not working too well. Rather concerned about my ability to last the course, I tried to ride as easy as possible. The decent from Norland moor to road was a relief, although the boggy section half way down was not best done in the big ring, loosing momentum whilst finding the right gear and trying not to wash out.
A lengthy road section led to a long winding off road climb, nothing too technical but 2km of 6% climbing certainly sorted the men from the boys. Rejoining the road heading towards Scammonden dam I was starting to feel more on top of things and was going well with the average speed hitting the target.
Crossing under the M62 and riding along the dam top the trail swung upward on a short-ish steep-ish climb and back on to the road and to the highest point on the route. A long road section linked to a nice long off road decent into the valley bottom. This being Calderdale only meant that once in the valley bottom the route would inevitably head upwards again. A couple of wet muddy climbs and technical climbs had most people off and pushing due to the lack of traction. The final fast off road decent was made more interesting by hitting patches of shallow slippery mud at speed with a long vertical drop on the left.
Back to the valley bottom the route ground slowly up hill back to the start with a 4km 6% climb mainly on road although the last km was partly on wet muddy grass and increasingly steep tarmac. This section sapped both strength and my average speed, dropping to 13.4kph. The final road decent to the finish point help push the speed back up, finishing on 13.9kph in 2hrs 12min for 29 miles.
Despite the initial struggles and the final climb, I was quite happy with the ride, given how I had felt in the last couple of weeks. I am now looking forward to the next Challenge ride.
By Dave Lacey.