Fangs Brow Again!

Part of the purpose of the “Free Ride” sessions in my Sportif preparation block is not to “huck” my way off some “knarly” drop-offs but to work on areas where I feel my other sessions have identified a weakness.

Last night I chose, as I think I will be doing a lot, descending. Me and going downhill fast have never really got on. My first bad experience was hitting some ice on a fast straight section of Whinlatter and pulling the brakes… My second, watching a guy kill himself on the Glandon. My various broken bones and seeing other people crash have instilled a sense of fear in me down the years and is something, believe it or not, that I work on. The problem is that every time I commit to a line a car seems to come the other way meaning I won’t do it the rest of the ride.

Descending is, however, the only part of cycling you get for free. Whilst I’ll probably never be a dare-devil, I recognise that being able to get downhill fast and safely is important not just in sportif riding, but possibly even more so in racing.

So I selected a route that, from Cockermouth, took in Paddle and Thornthwaite, then passed Loweswater, up and over Fangs Brow and returned via the main road. This gave me a few short, twisty downhills, a longer fast downhill with a few technical corners in the middle and some sharp big ring climbs to stomp up.

On the flat and uphills, my performance surprised me. My heartrate was lower than normal, and I felt like I was breezing along, the uphills felt good too. My races and reliabilities must have brought me on a bit now I’ve recovered.

As for the descents, a mixed bag. The shorter stuff I was pleased with, staying off the brakes and committing to lines, confident I could get out of the way of anything coming the other way. Fangs, I got onto the drops, avoided the dog-walker and picked up my speed. I found myself involuntarily feathering the brakes about 100m before the fast chicane-like corners but got off them braking into it at about 40m to go, still too far away… off the brakes and into the corners, picking up speed on the exit of the second about to lean into the gravel strewn final bend and… car. Kill all my speed, creep through, balls.

Ride back kept up all my signs of good performance with my legs just starting to feel tired after my weeks efforts. 28.2 kph av for a hilly 29km, and home for a bath.

I’m trying to figure out My Tracks on the G1 at the moment and am doing about 2/3s of the Fred Whitton route over the weekend, so I will try to post maps and profiles, as ever your comments are welcomed!