I started my training today both for my June visit to the Alps and for my MB Swindon ride that I will be leading in June. I have to know this route well and be able to ride it well, so what better way to get fit and learn a route than to incorporate it into a training schedule.
The route is a 20K (almost exactly) loop from my door. It features the Rock Garden from the weekend and my first proper timed effort was 1 hour and 34 mins.
Would have been quicker but for a walker or two and the claggy clay on the climb to the Cherhill Monument was a killer… Oh and some minor faffing with my GoPro Hero. I could probably take 10 mins off easily without any of the above getting in the way.
I also created a Strava Segment for the climb. A target to beat!
I always thought it was a strange name for a mountain bike trail feature but I guess I can’t think of anything else that would make such succinct sense.
The term refers to a feature on a trail that is made of rocks! I searched for some images on the web and it seems it describes a rock feature of any size!
My local Rock Garden is actually a mostly disused bridleway in Compton Bassett. It’s disused because frankly you risk breaking an ankle walking up there and I suspect horses are pretty expensive to replace and their owners don’t want to risk any injuries.
This means its open season for us mad fools!
The climb starts off as a nice bit of single track and rapidly turns into an off camber challenge to stay out of the rocky rut. The last few months of rain, rain and more rain have washed any last bit of loose earth and dirt away leaving a deep rocky channel which is OK to come down, but very hard to climb.
So you need to hug the side of the bank in places and duck under low hanging tree branches to make your way through the first section.
As you pass the bend in the trail you can start to look for some of the cheeky little drops that roll off and onto the main trail. Some are quite steep and I love riding down these! Can be a bit sketchy with all the loose leaves on the ground though as you are never quite sure what lies beneath!
From top to bottom it probably takes less than a minute to descend but with big loose rocks, slippery surfaces, deep ruts and the odd fallen branch it is a test of nerve to go fast.
This was the first time I have been able to ride this safely since last summer!