Sunday, August 5, 2012

When Old is New

Got out this morning and rode a trail that is one of my favorites in the entire world.  I haven't gotten out to ride it in probably over 4 months, and with being injured and then being away, I was dreaming about it for a while.  It's technical and resultantly slow in areas, but with so many natural features you could spend an entire day enjoying everything and still want for more when the sun goes down.

The trail itself is probably less than 15 miles long.  Might even be shorter than 10.  The fun factor is what keeps me coming back though, coupled with the fact that I don't think I've ever had a ride there where everything went perfectly well.  There's always a section I have trouble with, a crash, or simply a dab of the foot when trying a new line.

Most importantly, this particular trail is someplace I can go to completely punch out.  It's technical enough for that you can't possibly think of anything but what you're currently doing.  Any time I've ever thought about "life" stuff while riding there, I've crashed.  Plain and simple.

Today was all about getting back out there and seeing how I would react to A) being truly unfit for the first time in many years, and B) having to deal with a set of rusty skills that were in no way helped by the type of riding I did when I was away.

In the 3 months I was gone, the predominant trails available were downhill.  There was no lift service, and the single track was too steep to climb, so basically you're left with riding up dirt and paved road to a trail head that will lead you back down to where you started.  More on this later, but this particular aspect of the riding there was probably the biggest reason I wound up not riding much.  Anyhow, when you do nothing but downhill, you get used to picking lines that make use of the speed with which you're traveling.  I'm not saying that downhill riding is easier than any other type or riding, all I'm saying is that having speed and momentum on your side is a big advantage when it comes to blowing through a rock garden or clearing a jump.  When you don't have to pedal through tech, you tend to loose the feel of the trail and the power in your legs and upper body that it takes sometimes to get through different sections.

So, like I said, today was a day to test out the bike, test out the skills, and hope to God that I hadn't gotten too fat to ride the way I like to.  It was obvious from the start that I was rusty and obvious from the start that I came back a different rider than the one that left 3 months ago.  Nevertheless, as I rode more and more, remembering how things felt and what went where, I started going from huffing and puffing and being sketchy on every feature, to falling right back in line with where I was before I left.  In fact, I've returned a smoother and more graceful rider.  While I did get tired more quickly and while I didn't quite make and clear everything I tried, by the end of the ride, I felt that I was close, if not back to, the skill level I was at before I left.  It was truly like riding a bicycle: You never forget.

Going back to the riding I did while away, one of the biggest points of contention I had was with doing so much of my riding on roads, both paved and dirt, only to get a fraction of that time back on single track.  More often than not, I would spend over an hour climbing on road only to reach one or two kilometers of single track. To me, the math just didn't add up.  Here, depending on the trail, it's not uncommon to spend an entire ride in the woods, with natural features, not having to hit anything more than a bit of double track every once in a while.  I've been easily spoiled with such good trails and trail systems that I've become too much of a snob to ride the road.  Good or bad, it is what it is.  Part of how I get my fix is by being in the woods, enjoying nature and nothing but nature.  The last thing I want to see on any of my mountain bike rides is road, whether paved or dirt.

In the end, it was a good day and a great opportunity to get back to one of the trails I love.  I left, driving away with that familiar, shit-eating grin that I'd not had after a bike ride for quite some time.  Great to feel good about riding my bike once again.

Tomorrow is back to work, trying to sort out my clients, beg people to start training with me again, and get my apartment cleaned up-always have to make sure even the smallest bits of dirt are gone when entertaining a beautiful lady. :)

I may or may not ride tomorrow.  Yesterday's post was all about my decision to be in control of NOT being in control and I intend to keep things that way.  I think I'd like to ride, but the way things are looking at this point, it might not be a possibility.  And that's ok.  It'll almost be a bonus if I do get the change to get out tomorrow.  Either way, I will wind up doing some exercise.  And I honestly can't say that the gym and those damned kettle bells aren't calling my name right now.

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