Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Ride.

Two weeks ago I hit a new low of 140.5 lbs. Down from 175 lbs in July of 2006. Last time I hit that weight was post ride mid summer (more due to water weight then actual weight loss). I am happy with that. I go to Disney again in May, but when I went for 10 days last spring I gained 8 lbs. My wife couldn't believe it, but the scale said it in all its digital glory. I sure hope this vacation I am smarter about my eating.

But this isnt really about Thanksgiving gorging like a famished pig and going back for 4 or 5 large servings of scalloped corn ( I love that stuff-and its carbs) and 2 slices of my wife's delicious pumpkin pie (its sugar-I can use that)!!

I wish I had a camera for this mornings 2.5 hour mountain bike ride. Thats what this is about. It was very cold, very wet, raining and sometimes snowing the whole way, big puddles, a steep climb that we crawled up in slimy mud with our bikes on our backs, grabbing at anything for grip and later helping the others ascend and bumpy descents on layers of leaves so thick it nearly rendered hydraulic brakes useless.

I really surprised myself by hopping over almost all of the logs on the path. One funny occasion we were climbing away in the granny gears and there was a log 3/4 of the way up. I got to the log, lifted my front wheel, but my wheel didn't lift even 1mm and I ran into the log head on with the front wheel at a whopping maybe 4mph....boing. Time to walk!!

I relearned that climbing on slippery surfaces isn't about power as much as it is about controlled aggression and a good line. I also went down descents bumpy and steep enough I had to get off the back of the saddle, really modulate the brakes and shift my weight around. I also got to see how amazing just rotating my arms forward motocross style helps in going around corners. Thanks to Mark and Tom for that tip. Road racer style with elbows back and close to the body just doesn't work offroad.

I also learned that some descents others can do scare the crap out of me. I admit it, I walked down one or two. I dont mind fear and like a rollercoaster ride or taking a blind corner flat out in a racing kart its a need. But when you lock up your brakes and start to stare at all of the rocks and roots, sharp corners and mud-its best to walk....for now. Not to mention I have three cross races left on my schedule (and I am not 20 years old anymore-crappy excuse that). One in particular was a drop into a stream , but you had to hit just the right line to go between two tall rocks at speed and get on the only flat rock that helped bounce you back onto the other side. Margin of error? Zero or your falling over in the rocky stream-ouchy and I am sure the water was very c-c-c-cold. I walked across (so did two others) but it was so slippery and hairy bounding from rock to rock with the bike I wonder if I should have tried riding. I got across with my feet only as wet as they were before I started across.

For all that I moan and complain about my poor mountain bike (or cross) skills some may wonder why I bother at all? Why don't you see? It's because of the fear and its because theres so much to be learned that its so attractive to me. Its a strange little cocktail of fear and desire, a bit of stubbornness with a twist of excitement. I plain old suck and I dont think I'll ever get that great at it or be able to pick that perfect line down a rocky descent. But as long as I get to a certain skill level and maybe race again that would be enough. Iceman or Raccoon Rally are my target mountain bike races of 2008. Not to mention its that desire to be a better cyclo cross racer.

But back to today. It was a good morning in miserable conditions. It reminds me of our epic 2 to 4 hour winter mountain bike rides in Brecksville and these same trails in 1991 with Jim Baldesare, Noel Harris, Rick Smith and a bunch of other riders. Those were good times of drinking late into the night, crashing on Ricks floor then waking up hungover and getting on the bikes in freezing cold conditions at the break of dawn. I used to have a Bridgestone MB Zip. A very nice and light no suspension bike that was all light Ritchey and Mavic components. I swore I'd never sell that bike, but I did this year. Fast forward to today and I rode my new/used full suspension 2004 Specialized Epic with a bunch of guys (and a gal) I have never met before and rode with Joe whom I used to race with back in the 80's and 90's before I quit riding. That was cool.

Anyways I had a blast (a few new bruises) and it was good to have that excuse to eat like a pig today. I cannot wait for Thanksgiving 2008.

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