Today’s ride was a good ride. The sun was shining, the trail had actually dried out for the most part, I rode fast and I didn’t throw up. That’s not to say that there wasn’t room for improvement – my fitness levels have definitely taken a turn for the worse, struggling more than usual up the fireroad hill and progressively more out of sorts after section 8. My just under an hour laptime is now extended to just under an hour and quarter thanks the longer breaks I’m taking. Still, nowt a couple of evenings a week on the exercise bike won’t help to fix – sadly biking into work is still a no-goer due to overtime.
I’ve recently developed a bit of a neurosis about the Stegosaur at the start of section 6. I can’t quite explain it – I’ve always been a bit iffy about the last couple of rocks onto the bridge, but last week I completely bottled them. Even though I’d been vaguely panicking about them on the way there, I forced myself to ride the entire thing and it was fine. OK, sorry, that’s not exactly the most thrilling story, but it was… fine. In the past I’ve had a few shaky moments where I’ve nearly gone off the right hand side of the bridge, but today was no problem. Took the rocks onto the boardwalk with my usual style and grace (plough into it full speed), also no problems. Bottled Evil Root Number One… and hell, might as well admit it now, Number Two as well. It’s always easier taking the path of least resistance when you’re on your own – I was planning on riding with the Pearson Posse, but alas, we didn’t get to the Chase until 3-ish again.
On the plus side, from what people said it was a lot quieter than it had been in the morning. Still managed to pass quite a few people though – in a minor miracle, I think I actually managed to overtake more people than overtook me for the first time. I did feel very fast and confident on the trail, but unfortunately a bit wheezy between sections. Still, no near fainting or passing out! \o/
Felt a bit guilty on the last section of FtD approaching Birches Valley. As I approached the two drops I noticed a couple of riders edging around the start of them. One guy had stopped right before them, and was off to the right hand of the trail. I swear, I thought he’d pulled over for me, and I was thanking him as I’m rubbish as those drops unless I have a decent amount of momentum. Unfortunately, I don’t think he knew I was there – literally, at the exact moment I started to pass and went over the first drop, he decided to start off himself. I startled him and he sort of fell sideways into the bracken. 🙁 I stopped and asked if he was OK, but he didn’t seem to answer. I decided to leg it in case he decided to own me with some Bombers – I know I normally get a bit miffed if people aggressively overtake without giving me a chance to pull over. Although in my defence, he was kind of pulled over and didn’t check to see if anyone was approaching before taking off again… still felt like an arse though.
I’m getting a bit itchy to explore more of the Chase – I know that there’s a lot more to it than FtD and The Monkey. I’m a bit torn though – I like riding a familiar trail, being able to see where my strengths and weakness are, and where I’m improving. I also like not getting lost, or having to carry around and read a map, and knowing that I’m not going to plough through a breeding ground for adders surrounded by rare orchids that is off-limits due to a horrible world ending plant disease. It’s also nice knowing that you’re allowed to ride what you’re riding, and that the chances of encountering ranty ramblers is at a minimum. Still, I might invest in an OS map of the Chase and plot out a route on bridleways, just for a good long ride. I’d love to visit the Milford Common area again – literally, the one and only time I’ve ever been there was on a school geography trip where we measured footpath erosion and the amount of litter around the area, to demonstrate the effect ‘honeypot’ tourist spots have on the environment. There was a Wimpy there, and the woodland surrounding it was awesome. It was also something like 17 years ago, so my memory might be better than the reality (even though I remember the Wimpy…).
Ride: Cannock Chase
Trail: Follow the Dog
Highlights: Zooming around, feeling pretty confident
Bad bits: Lack of fitness
Post ride food snaffled: Cherry shortbread and a cup of tea
Good dogs seen: Fairly bog standard today, although there was a small jack russell and what looked like a minature golden lassie.