Today I officially started my winter training after a couple weeks off. Winter training means lots of endurance miles and strengthening up my core ready for the new season in March.
With a clear weather forecast I opted for the slightly more fun off road ride. Starting in Petersfield I headed out to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP). A good road warm up climb brought me to the back of QECP and yes another climb this time a fire road climb which are the down pour over the last couple of days had left leaves sprawled out over the chalk making for slippy riding to say the least!
I headed further up and onto the new blue trail which weaved through the trees, its a good blue great for beginners as the corners are nicely spaced and the gravel surface is beading in well to make a hopefully winter resistant trail!
Making my way onto the red trail it was great to be out on my bike again, the air was cold but from all the climbing I was toasty warm as my bike swooped down the steep red sections. Dodging puddles as I went, partly not wanting to get wet and partly as my tyres were pumped slightly too hard for sticky wet riding.
Working my way back to the top of QECP the sun shone low through the trees making seeing far ahead difficult so I had to slow down. This gave me time to take in the scenery the stunning colours of the leaves burnt orange and golden brown contrasted against the bright green moss.
The trails always look different in the winter, more severe, as the leaves retreat and the trees are left bare. Winter riding brings new challenges, not only how to keep warm but the clear line through the trail has now vanished and in its place is thick layer of mud ready to swallow your back wheel should you enter a corner with too much speed. The opportunity now presents itself to be the ‘black sheep,’ as following where those other bike tracks have gone is going to end up in the goo, so the game is now find the line around the mud that is still on the trail!
With the red completed it was now time to head back up the blue and on home. The sun was fading quickly which pushed me onwards and upwards towards home.
Finishing the blue climb I took a slight wrong turn and ended on a gem of a singletrack run which soon spat me out onto the road lower down than I expected in the village of Buriton. Rolling into my drive it dawned on me how much of the trail seemed to still be stuck to my bike!