Sunny Cycling (4th June 2008)
Some time ago I failed to summit a steep bank near Fleet Pond. Today, I made it!
I rode around for a few hours, quite slowly for the most part and stopping to look at trees, birds, waterfalls and so on. Explored some new routes and unintentionally ended up on the same routes as last time!
Rode along the other side of the stream which drains into the pond. This led me to the fields East of it. I went along the edge of one for a while, then saw a narrow route into the woodland. At first I thought it was an adventurous trail riders’ track but quickly found it ran past a very wet area. It was almost impassable but I managed to slog my way through it.
I was probably an animal track, not a cyclist route. I may have been the only person to go along it in months. Perhaps ever?
It eventually led me onto familiar routes on the ancient bank overlooking Fleet Pond. Rode through the picnic area looking for the steep, narrow path I failed at before. Eventually found it by the slope I dropped in from to build up approach speed.
Last time I nearly reached the top several times by approaching at high speed, then changing down to my lowest gear about 10 metres before it got really steep. This time I approached at a higher speed in medium 4, really pelting along the path and still pedalling hard up half the shallow run-up.
This increase in approach speed was the winning factor.
On my first run I wasn’t quite fast enough. The rear wheel slipped on the steepest section and that lost my momentum. It also loosened the surface, so I spent a while stamping the surface to smooth it out and pack it down. This was really precarious as it’s very steep, pretty loose and you have to stand on one leg to stamp!
The third run was the one I made it on. Thought I screwed up the approach as I was still shifting gears as I reached the end of the run-up. But the approach speed was so fast I only needed to lean on the pedals some metres later, by which time the gears had slipped into place. Just in time for me to need them.
Just after the summit, I was still turning left and nearly crashed off the side! Had to put a foot down but you can’t deny that I passed the summit. It felt like I’d won an X Games medal! Especially since I wasn’t completely satisfied with my run.
So I circled round and went again. This time I managed even more speed and got my gear changes done a bit earlier. Allowed the bike to freewheel further up the hill and only began pedalling again as I went over the steepest section. Got the steering perfect and rode cleanly out of the section.
Sometimes the little defeats in life really get me down. But the small victories, like this one, are equally uplifting.