Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Knee update

Good news on the knee front.  It feels a lot better than it did just 24 hours ago.  The swelling has come down significantly and it isn't as stiff.  It is still a little sore but I like the direction it is headed.  I am going to head to the gym tonight to do some easy spinning on the stationary bike to get a real picture of where it is.  I need it to be 100% by Friday morning when the Make-A-Wish 300 miles in 3 days across Michigan starts.  The good thing is that the ride doesn't have a lot of hills on it.  It looks like 1400 ft of elevation gain on the first day and most of that is within the first 30-40 miles.  As long as the knee holds up for those uphills I should be able to survive the rest of it.   At least I hope I do. Of course I am going nowhere if I don't get packed tonight.  I need to triple check my list so that I don't forget anything.  It isn't easy to reduce everything you need (including sleeping bag and mat to sleep on) down to one bag weighing 25 lbs or less.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mountain biking

I decided to try my hand at mountain biking.  Some friends and I have been trying to go for a few weeks but something always got in the way.  Mostly it was work but once the trails were closed because it was raining.  Well, we finally made it happen yesterday.  One of the guys goes to the mountain biking trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (NWC) all the time so he was our guide.  Matt is much faster than we are and can take off and disappear in a second so Colby started calling him Ghost.  We started off on the green trails for beginners.  Riding on the trails, threading through trees, and finding the right line through roots and rocks  definitely took some getting used to.  My first thought was "This is bat shit crazy".  After we finished the lake loop I was feeling a little more confident and we decided to hit a blue trail (intermediate).  Ghost did well in keeping us out of ditches and things but we really need to work on his timing.  He would warn you JUST before you were on top of something.  There was barely any time to get ready.  We went barreling down a hill on a trail that was maybe 2 feet wide and PACKED with rocks.  I couldn't focus on what was ahead because everything was bouncing up and down so much as I plummeted down this hill.  All of could think was "oh shit don't fall don't fall". I couldn't tell you how long that hill was but it seemed like it went on forever (so probably 3 seconds).  As I got more comfortable on the bike I was able to go faster and ride more smoothly.  This is when Ghost decided we should hit a black (advanced) loop.  Sure, why not, I am feeling pretty good.  I now know that there is a big difference between the blue trails and the black trails.  For one thing, the black trails like to make you climb straight up over roots and rocks.  I quickly learned that I have a lot to learn about picking lines and climbing in a mountain bike environment.  I kept hitting a rock or root just right and BAM, I was dead stopped.  Let me tell you how impossible it is to get started again when you are part way up a steep hill and there are still obstacles all around you.  I did get to ride some berms which were a lot of fun once you get used to them.  As we were finishing the black loop I came up on a little berm and decided to keep my speed by riding it high.  I learned something new right then.  The top of the berm was more pine straw and soft dirt than hard packed berm.  I washed out the front wheel and came down HARD! 
Knee is a little swollen

Thankfully I was in the back so nobody saw it and I didn't get run over.  As I lay there for a minute I was thinking that going mountain biking a week before I am headed to Michigan to ride 300 miles over 3 days might not have been the best idea.  The knee hurt for awhile but we finished riding the blue trail and then the green trail again as a cool down.  I did much better on the green trail the 2nd time around and really enjoyed myself.  I am definitely going to be doing more mountain biking in the future.  Now I am watching my knee and hoping it will be back to normal by next Friday.  It is a little swollen and sore right now.
It gets dirty mountain biking.


Have you been mountain biking? What was your first fall?