25 January 2012

A weekday solo mtb ride

On a very sunny and crisp morning I decided to change my routine. I would go for a ride in the morning, and work in the afternoon and into the evening on my thesis. One of the (very) few advantages of grad school I guess...

Having been to Epping Forest a few days earlier, I knew the conditions would be similar: mud. But very soon I realized that they may actually be a little different. The canals that head North from East London had completely frozen. Not a usual sight in London, but there we go...

-1 degrees C
After 50 min of riding along the canal, I found myself in a very frosty Epping Forest. The puddles and mud were completely frozen. Although quite pleasant initially, it became much worse towards the northern part of the park. Massive furrows had formed in the mud and some had started to melt. That meant at least two falls while trying to ride on that. After less than 1h of riding I was completely exhausted. And I was not even half way through the loop I had planned.

Man it was cold...!

Trying to follow that innocent black path proved nearly impossible due to mud
Eventually I made it up to the top of the park, where you can see, well, hear, the M25. The way back down was a lot of fun. It was already 2 pm and did not want to ride at night on the canal. But there was still plenty of singletrack that I wanted to explore! One of the advantages of cycling by yourself is that you are free to make decisions. So I stuck to the plan and continued on the narrow paths despite risking getting back to London on the late side. Following the gps was difficult however, and many times I was confronted with (the lack of) paths like this one.

Trying to decide which way to go

Not a bad place for a weekday morning...
Right before leaving the park I found an interesting sight...Difficult to imagine how bad the wind was the day this tree collapsed...

I guess it was the wind!?
Past 3 pm I was already riding back along the canal. But before reaching home, I had to do the English thing and stopped for tea (coffee) and cake. It really tasted great! Overall, I was on the bike for 4 h, rode about 64 km from door to door (of which 30 km were on gravel and ~20 km on muddy singletrack). The average speed was 15.7 km/h (substantially lower than that of any normal road ride). Somewhere on that day I hit 42 km/h. This park is really quite nice, but not very suitable for winter riding especially those singletracky sections. And all within the M25! At 5 pm I was back typing on my laptop. The route was as shown below:

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