My second adventure in mountain biking happened on Friday after Travis, Ward, and I made it home from our Las Vegas adventures and Interbike. I didn’t think I would be interested in going for a ride around the trails since we got home at 2 a.m. However, luck would have it that I am usually more functional (FUN!) during the late day/afternoon hours.
Travis decided we would scale some different trails that day. I was under the impression there aren’t very many choices out there for ‘beginner’ trails. We are finding that several trails can be made into so-called ‘beginner’ trails if you allow yourself patience and let yourself take it easy while riding on them. I’m finding that it is best for me to learn cautiously; easing into a situation, and if necessary, session the area if there is a tricky spot.
Sure, some trails are much easier to maneuver if you blast over them, but consequences can be more extreme with more speed. Going slower allows me to follow behind Travis somewhat closely. It allows Travis to tell me ahead of time what is coming up and any specific instructions for maneuvering myself around the trails. Tight corners, brace my seat, lean forward or back, pedal faster, shift down/up, low branches, etc. I’m getting some basic handling instructions and an interactive “user’s guide” to mountain biking.
Our adventure on Friday took us to the upper trails of Palisades, upper Dunning Springs loop, as well as both Captain’s trails. The biggest lessons of the day were going over log piles. Ok, when I say piles, I do not mean giant piles of 3-4 logs. I’m talking about one smaller fallen log here, there, and one larger log pile that was really more of a dirt pile.
Travis would never tell me to do something he didn’t feel I was capable of doing, regardless; it’s hard sometimes to really feel confident when he says “You can do this!” “Ok? Really? Sure….whatever you say.” The first time going over the log I went too fast, which I definitely felt as Bruno doesn’t have shocks. It was a solid lesson in speed adjustment. If you go too fast and you land front tire first you can throw yourself, and that isn't fun. So I turned myself around and went back at it again. I did it, but was just a hair too slow. Third time was the charm and I successfully went over the log with ease! Our lesson then turned to going over it the opposite direction, which I tackled pretty easily.
Onward and forward on our trail adventures, I inched around some tight corners; climbing and descending hills. Another log! This one was angled on the trail; I learned that when approaching you should angle yourself over it to make a + sign. I went over that one easily, in other words “Booyah!”
We eventually made a loop back to the first log, and I had my very first tip-over. It was a circumstance where Travis was going slowly (really?!) and I was too close behind him so I couldn’t adjust my speed or approach. I lost momentum and stopped right on the middle of the log and tipped sideways; I’m pretty sure I said a word that rhymes with pit.
I saw Travis run towards me and I assured him I was alright and not hurt. Surprisingly my pride wasn’t even affected; dirt on my jeans and the promise of a bruise on my leg didn’t faze me whatsoever. I told Travis I was going to go over the log and as promised, I did; no issues that time!
The last log pile was exciting, and Travis was surprised that I felt brave enough to try it. It wasn’t very complicated, and you could pedal over it if needed. Sometimes when you go over piles, you can’t pedal due to the pedal hitting (something) below you, catching, and then causing you to tip over, fall, or biff. All I had to do was make sure to avoid this one nook that my tire could get stuck in; I’ll say accomplishing that pile felt pretty darn awesome!
There was a steep incline that I didn’t completely accomplish, and I know now that I was probably one gear too low, so I didn’t have enough momentum/traction/power to keep going. I made it about halfway up before I lost my “go” and had to stop. I was obviously a little frustrated; I had simply run out of juice. I would’ve attempted to go at it again, but my legs were starting to call it quits on me; going back to the start point wasn’t thrilling me at all. You can sure try to start in the middle of a climb, but you probably won’t get very far; we walked the rest of the way up the hill.
Back at the truck we got the bikes situated for their “couples” shot, because they sure make quite the pair out there. Words of encouragement, praise, and general awesomeness were given. I was slowly allowing myself to soak them up and actually acknowledge that yes; I was indeed starting to have fun. Coming out of my nervous shell, and accomplishing some basic mountain biker 1.0.1 was making me feel pretty awesome.
So concludes adventure #2 with learning to mountain bike. Most valuable lesson learned to date-tipping over in the woods is much less traumatic than hitting pavement. The most awesome lesson learned to date-I can do this!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.