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?


  1. Great job SquirrelHead! In my opinion mtb riding is the most demanding of all the cycling disciplines. Not to mention it's simply a blast. Like most things the more you do it the better you will become as a rider and the more fun you will have.

    I've been mountain biking since about 1987 and had the good fortune to ride in places like Washington State, Idaho, Montana and Banff, Alberta. In my home state of Ohio our trails don't climb mounains but many have steep but short climbs and very technical trails. If you ever get up to this area the Mohican State Park has a 25 mile loop that is fantastic. It takes me just over 3 hours to ride and my legs are shredded afterwords.

    As far as crashes I can't remember my first one but there has been many of them over the years. Comes with the territory and I think everyone does.

    Keep up the good work and ride safe!

  2. Mike- Congrats on your first MTB adventure. MTB is a lot about the ride, and "where did you get that scar" stories. If you remember Chuck Ibis's guest post from Fatty.
    Should we get you out here in California again give a shout and I'll take you to the hills of Marin. Few trees, fair amount of rocks, and fun sandy corners to test your skill set.