My day with the dark side...
Its been an odd week readers. After the "Flat out in the Fens" sportive last week I have done a couple of short rides and a bit of relaxing pre-holiday (which is why I am writing, not riding on a Sunday morning).
Yesterday though the yearn to get up at the crack of dawn and ride my bike was too strong to resist and so, inspired by the beautiful photographs and adventurous articles in Road.cc's sister publication "Singletrack World", I packed the barely used mountain bike in the car and headed for Rutland Water.
It was before 9 when I arrived and the on site bike shop was loading its outdoor racks with a whole host of machinery for hire.
I had been warned that this 22 mile lap was a mecca for weekend riders who are looking to get into cycling so I got the bike ready and headed out as soon as possible to get the miles in before the track got too busy.
I hadn't taken the off road loop round the man made lake for nearly a decade and I remembered it as mainly cycle path as opposed to something to get the off road crew excited.
And so it proved as I left Normanton and headed (past the scene of my upcoming wedding!!) to the dam and over to the north shore.
But then I hit a trail and whilst the path was clearly marked and well worn, if felt great whizzing through the forest with the forks doing a great job of keeping my shoulders in their sockets.
The climb out of Barnsdale was road, but it was 18.5% and it left me wishing I had put on my hrm for what was supposed to be a sightseeing leisure ride.
As I headed out onto the peninsular light drizzle started to fall but the visibility was getting better. Little boats full of fishermen were starting to appear from the mist giving the whole experience an eerie theme.
I got back through Manton on the road section before hitting another wooded climb (which I managed to un-ship my chain on) and back into the car park.
A good lap (some rad MTB'ers had told me) is around 1hr 25mins. I had I done 1 hr 40 at my first attempt (which had included a couple of brief photo stops!).
But, and I will whisper it quietly on this website, the off road lot are maybe onto something here.
I couldn't do what they do all the time. In fact I am still in the process of cleaning my bike... but it was fun to whizz around a traffic free environment (apart from the millions of sheep) and very relaxed training.