The plan was simple, ride my bike until I was too tired to. I would set out early morning on my fat bike and ride to a forest that is about 20KM away. My bike was loaded up with equipment that I would take with me on the Rovaniemi 150 to get a real feel for how the bike handles loaded up and it would be a good indicator of where my fitness levels were. I carried equipment that would be useless for the days ride, sleeping bag an roll matt, stove and spare warm layers (despite it being a warm, Octobers day!).
I set off not long after breakfast and made my way to the gravel roads north of where I live. Time soon passed and I was spinning along familiar gravel roads. No one was about, so I had plenty of time to switch off, take in the solitude and think about todays ride. I still did not have a set route, so I mentally assessed my options, a long, tedious road climb on the fat bike or a cheeky path that takes me onto a bridleway next to Frodsham Hill.
I crossed through one field, leaving behind large tyre tracks in the morning dew and entered onto the cheeky path. After a short section, I carried my bike down a set of stairs into the excellent, local bouldering spot. Tempting it was to have a play, I pushed on and passed a group on friendly ramblers. A short road section followed, some sweeping bends took me into a short climb. Road climb on such a bike are always painstakingly slow, you’re better to be patient and spin a low gear to get to the crest.
The views of Cheshire made up for the slow road climb. I grabbed a quick snack and entered into the forest. The plan now was to ride until I no longer could, then turn back and ride the 20KM home. Delamere Forest is a great place to ride, one of my favourite spots but it either takes time and effort to find the good stuff, or you need a friend with good, local knowledge. I’ve put in over 10 years of riding the forest, so I have a fair knowledge of the area, but for a relatively small forest, I do find new trails on a irregular basis.
I headed to the North of the forest and went down the long descent to the hospital run (many years ago, the Forest contained a Hospital). This is a long section that contours the edge of the Forest and takes in several small wooden bridges. With a few dabs, the section was complete and I was ready to do ‘Toms run’ or ‘The barrels run’ or whatever its called depending upon who you talk to! I contined riding more singletrack until it was time for dinner, which coincidently was by the café.
My post dinner rote took me up the steep, hairpin climb to the masts. I counted 26 corners on the climb before I got to the mast with more excellent, sweeping vista’s of Cheshire. I had several options to descend, the way I came up, the fast fire-road down or head further south away from the main trails. I chose the southern option and rode some quiet, singletrack. By now, I was contouring the forest and was heading in the direction of home. So far, I had rode 55KM without too many problems and I felt fresh. My road training had been paying off, so I decided that I would it a day.
I made my exit and joined the long gravel roads back home. I had completed 75KM on riding, with 35KM on tight, technical singletrack. I felt like I could do it again once home, so half race distance completed without many problems. It was a good, positive ride but I did learn a valuable lesson, food options. Finland in the middle of the winter will not be able to offer me a café for my lunch stop, nor the chance to restock upon extra treats mid-ride, so food-wise, I’ll have to be fully prepared for the race. I did find that eating little and often kept my energy levels going, so this is something I will focus on during the race.