Maiden Voyage On My New Singlespeed MTB

Saturday, December 11th – That day sure started with some excitement!  First off, the weather was just perfect – the predicted high was going to be 50, and the skies were going to be cloudy all day.  I later realized that I love cloudy weather for mountain bike riding.  (No shadows and you can see the trail clearly.)  My husband and I got our stuff together, headed up to the bike shop, got fit on my bike, and headed for the trail.  I was giddy with excitement!  At the same time, I was also scared that my pristine new ride was on this bike rack that has held a number of our (and our kids’) bikes over the years but was now holding something emotionally more precious than ever. “Hey, what was that noise?  Are the bikes rubbing?  Stop, let’s check this out, just to be sure.”  I don’t do paranoid, well.

We pulled into the parking lot of the trail, and my friend and her husband pulled in seconds later.  She was tickled to join me on my maiden voyage.

Me?  Heck, I was rearing to go!  Pedals down, baby!  Let’s ROLL!  My excitement with the bike carried me easily through both the beginner and the step-up beginner-intermediate trail.  That second trail did have a short climb where I had to get off and walk.  I wasn’t phased by that, at all.  Funny, that would have completely blacked me out if I were on my road bike, and early on (in my road riding) when that happened, it DID black me out.  Interesting how perspectives change when in a different environment.  

After doing a few loops on either trail and feeling pretty darn good about myself, my friend asked if I had the bravery to try the intermediate trail.  “Well, what’s the worst that could happen?”  That answer was that I’d probably have several areas where I’d need to get off and walk it for a short bit.  Fine with me!  Let’s go!

My husband stayed behind us at first, but I was too slow for him.  Since he hadn’t been on the trails in quite some time, he was chomping at the bit to really do some mashing.  I had him pass me, while my friend stayed with me.   Then, I had her lead me.  So, I’d have an eye on how the trail curved, wobbled and undulated.  That was a good move because the intermediate trail (which is actually an intermediate trail with some sections that are considered advanced, I found out much later) is very technical.  I got off my bike plenty of times because either I wasn’t ready for some of the log obstacles or some of the climbs were real buggers with loads of exposed, raised rocks and/or huge tree roots. I also needed to work on my leg strength and to get up certain climbs without the “benefit” of having gears.
 
I didn’t care the least bit.  I knew all this would come in good time.  My spirits were so high, I swear that could have probably carried me up and over all those obstacles and climbs had I let it.  Was I having fun?  Are you kidding?  I was panting my tail off, and my heart rate was above my LT for 45% of the time.  Hell yes, I was having fun!  I didn’t even care when I crunched my left pedal on a huge raised rock and gave my bike it’s first tiny “boo-boo”.  Meh.  It’s only a pedal for crying out loud.  What actually took the crunch was the reflective plastic part on the side of the pedal. SinceI’m not taking this thing on the road at night anytime soon, no worries there!  Plus, I knew from my hubby’s experiences that this kinda stuff comes with the territory.  

Speaking of which…that naturally leads right into another factor comes with this kind of territory – body “art”.  Get it? No?  Okay, let’s try this one.  I may have a new nickname coming my way – “Rainbow”.  Get it, now?  Oh come on, you know this one (if you’ve ever been mountain biking on a semi-technical or more difficult trail).

Bruises, folks, bruises.  Did I get some?  ::snicker::…yeah, a few.  (*insert heavy sarcasm here*)  Okay, truth be told, I do bruise easily, always have.  Still though, I took some heavy hits here and there.  A couple parts of my body looked mighty decorative for a couple weeks!  Not that I cared, but I suppose I should wear long pants to the gym because not enough people have it in their consciousness that (a) mountain biking exists [even though they should with the amount of bike racks installed year-round on vehicles in our area] and (b) not enough fellow mtb bikers would look at me, otherwise, and figure that I’m not afraid of rough and tumble.  On a road bike, I don’t like rough and tumble because losing large sections of skin are far more painful and leave longterm visual consequences.  Not my cup of tea, but on a mountain bike, bruises aren’t something I necessarily fear unless they get bigger than the size of my hand.  

Battle wounds, that’s how I see them.  Yeah, I’m a female Gladiator doing battle on two wheels and treads.  (Oh geez, that’s sounds funny ::giggle::)  Except my only opponent is myself.  I prefer those kind of battles because not only is this the hardest opponent I’ll ever have, but it also means that when I win, “both of me” have won.  I rise to new levels.  It’s all good. Yeah, I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it again (and again and again).  It’s my general view on life.

I finished that 4 mile intermediate trail and felt really good about myself.  Sure, it was tough, and we spent a fair amount of time in there.  (~54 minutes, including all my walking and the rest stop we took mid-way through.)  Even so, my hubby was impressed with my time and had assumed that I would be much longer than I was.  That was good to hear.

Plus, there’s an area where people congregate before starting or after completing one of a few different intermediate or advanced trails.  Off to one side of this gathering area is a super steep rise.  Do you happen to remember my comments about a short but steep rise in my post about my first ever mtb ride?  Well, this one is more than double the height of that one.  My friend had asked me on our previous outing (when I borrowed her bikes) if I was up to the task.  That instance, I looked, and it seemed a mile high.  (Okay, not really, but it sure looked nasty!)  This time, my friend asked me if I wanted to tackle it.  Ohhoohooo yeah because I had a new set of bravery genes.  So, I backed up my bike, looked around to make sure no one was coming from any number of different directions and alley-oop’d my way up.  THAT was FANTASTIC because it had really made me quiver, previously.  Not anymore!  My friend was so tickled that she commented, “I *love* you!  You’re so brave! (and gullible!)”  I laughed because I knew what she meant.  She was also pleased that I’d given the difficult trail we had just ridden a shot, too.  We talked about riding and what lay before me in the coming months.

The time was passing all too quickly, and we realized that we had to get rolling back to the parking lot.  All in all, this was a STELLAR day for me on a number of different levels.  I’d achieved new things I didn’t know or think I could do. I had a new place to explore (both inside myself and out).  Plus, I knew this new endeavor would make me a stronger road rider come the spring.
 
Drunk with euphoria – yep, that’s me.  There’s no other drug quite like it.  You must try it sometime!!!
  • jackbulkley

    Makes me want to try out some local trails. I am going to have to setup a different bike for my wife and reclaim my 1988 Cannondale MTB. No suspension, but roller cam brakes and nice low gears.

  • rapunzel

    From personal experience (and a fair amount of research), I’ve found that the extreme hunger can really be the body’s request for more fluids. You see, our bodies don’t know we are in a technical age. It has the programming going back to the ages when fresh water wasn’t available like it is, now. So, how did we get water back in ancient and pre-historic times? From the foods we ate. My first season, I ate like there was no tomorrow after rides. I couldn’t seem to satisfy that hunger for at least 2 days after my weekend long ride(s). Last year, I was getting something of a handle on it. However after some research, I realized early this year that most of that call for hunger was really fluid related. So, I started greatly increasing my intakes, and guess what…my hunger dropped in HALF (or more). No more need to down a cheese-free, veggie pizza as a snack.

    So, try increasing your fluids before, during and after your rides. Since your body can only absorb about 8oz every 15 minutes, downing 16oz in one shot will lead to most of that going down the toilet (or a roadside patch of grass). So, drinking a buttload – spaced throughout the rest of the day – should get the job done.

    Hope that helps! :)

    (Btw, I wrote a blog post on hydration back in June. If you’re interested in reading it, here is the link.)