Monday, October 11, 2010

Mountain Bike Monday - Are you with me?

Yesterday, Dynamo and I set out to run some errands on the other side of the river (this means we went to Williamsburg). We live on one side of the James River and W'burg is on the other. We decided to take our bikes with us in hopes of catching a ride at York River State Park. After our errands we ventured to the park, which was packed with swinging on the swings, people on horseback, walkers, joggers, etc. It was a beautiful afternoon. It's so nice to see people out enjoying the parks and getting fresh air.

We had been to this park before, but it was wintertime and I had my geared bike. I'd never ridden Spot on this trail. Our sights were set on the Marl Ravine Trail. At the entrance to the trail the sign stated that the trail had multiple switchbacks, quick descents, and some advanced terrain. Basically, don't attempt if it is beyond your skill level. This was not a trail for beginners.

This is where I'd like to say that there is a benefit to riding different trails. If you continue to ride the same trails then your body and mind become accustomed to the same terrain. You need to experience new terrain and new challenges. I think that is how you grow as a rider. You become stronger and able to adapt to new situations. You have to choose your line instead of always riding the log and roots the same way. I am not a fan of trying new trails because I like familiarity. I tend to want to go slower on new trails since I don't know what's ahead. But, I need to ride new trails more often. I've got to break out of my box.

The trail began with a newly created, somewhat soft section, which can be tough for me. It's not hard packed, so moving along is a little bumpy and takes a little more umph! The trail was pretty quick, with some serious roots, lots of tight turns (especially uphill turns), and some spots where the edge was really just that...the edge. I tried not to look down. Shortly after we began the ride I was flying down a pretty fast descent with lots of overhanging brush crowding the trail, when I whirled around a turn and had to slam on breaks. There "he" was...about a 3 foot long blacksnake in the middle of this skinny section of trail. Instinct was to stop, so I did, but almost right on top of his head. I got off the bike, kept the bike between myself and Mr. Snake, and backed up slowly. He didn't seem concerned at all...honestly, I don't think he even realized I almost whirled past him. I should've kept going and he wouldn't have known. I'm an idiot I guess! So, Dynamo walked towards him and pushed his bike a little ahead to shoo him onward. He moved so he didn't have a care in the world. Never once did he curl up to strike. He's probably used to the traffic. After he got a little distance off of the trail Dynamo moved me on and he followed.

I was pretty shaken up by the encounter. I know...he's just a blacksnake...but, I was eye to eye with him. Naturally, after an encounter the entire rest of your ride you're on the lookout for them constantly. So, Dynamo decided to take the lead for the rest of the ride.

This is where he began my training...He told me that if he's standing then I should be too, so I better get my butt off of the seat. The reason for this is that I have a little trouble knowing when to stand...never soon enough on the single speed when I'm going up the hills...especially the steep I can't always make it up. And, there were some steep ones yesterday. I did pretty good and got up most of the hills, but there were a couple that I was definitely fussing because I didn't have gears! One day I'll get strong enough I'd say. This is where Dynamo said I should be glad he's not Jillian on The Biggest Loser. He said he should've made me go back and do the hill again. He's right...I should've...but at that point I thought I was going to lose my lunch. This ride was definitely a cardio workout.

So, the rest of the ride was Dynamo asking, "Are you with me?" as we rode. My response would be, "I'm here!" He would also say, "I'm up!" and I'd reply, "I'm up!"

He was a good leader. Sometimes I'd have to say, "Pedal, pedal" because I could take the hill faster than he thought I could. All in was a day for him to say, "You did good, hun." It wasn't a "Good ride, hun." kind of day. I think I whined a little too much to be worthy of "Good ride, hun." We did about 8 miles, but it was different terrain. Lots of technical riding, which isn't what I'm used to. I did all of the rocky sections and made it over the many rooty sections. The hills are where I need to focus. I'll go back another day..until then...keep riding...
This pic is of Dynamo crossing a pretty steep downhill with step-like things, then a bridge, then a seriously steep uphill with tight switchbacks.


jackie said...


Jim Rosen said...

You are definitely rockin it! Sounds like you did really well. Not sure how you keep finding all the snakes. Keep it up. Sounds like you are progressing as a rider big time. You go girl!

M Rosen said...

Maybe the snake is actually your animal totem:

Sounds like you did great on your ride. I admire you for trying new trails! I haven't been riding in a while. We are doing P90x, and I feel all I ever have time for is to eat, sleep, go to work, and P90x! also starting swimming up next week. Would love to get back into knitting, but so far have not found the time! oh, if only there were more hours in the day!

Keep up the good work!