Cycling to the Max (5th September 2007)

The route I figured out a few weeks ago mixes extremely slow and technical sections with narrow root-covered tracks. Also has a very bumpy, undulating, grit your teeth and hope, high-speed sequence. It’s as much a test of nerve as of fitness and skill. It’s like the Nürburgring for mountain bikes.

By adding two more ditch crossings and a hairpin turn where the previous two ditch crossings were, the technicality is even more challenging now.

But today I managed an almost perfect run and did it in 2 minutes 39 seconds. That’s even faster than my best time without the extra parts!

Riding on the roads is something I hadn’t done for a while. The friction and bumpyness of dirt and gravel means high speeds aren’t sustainable or particularly attainable. But on tarmac roads, you can really test your limits.

Turning out of Basingborne Road onto the main road between the wharf and Crookham Crossroads, I decided to see just how fast I could go. So I honked as hard as I could out of the junction in high 2 until my legs were going as fast as they could. Then I changed to high 3, did the same. By this time the drag from standing tall on the pedals is greater than the extra force you get. I sat down and tucked in, with my hands in the middle of the handlebars and my chin down close to them. It makes a big difference to my top speed.

High 4, high 5...and my legs were flying round like pistons in an engine. I’ve never ridden that fast on the flat before. Small bumps in the road made the bike shudder and shift around, like a sports prototype racing car hurtling down the Mulsanne straight. I kept up this pace until the petrol station, by which time every muscle in my body was numb.

I turned right at the roundabout and cruised gently down to the Verne. I coasted on to Basingborne Park and turned right, trundling through the woods.

After parking my bike I walked around gently, letting my body recover. I started feeling a bit queasy so I drank some water. It took a good 15 minutes before I was feeling well enough to gingerly set off again.

So yeah, I think I found my cycling limits today. Maybe I even went a bit beyond them. Was pretty intense and I feel a sense of accomplishment.