Taking you back to a day in early November... I got off my bike and propped it against a tree and found myself perching on a smaller tree. I had done it. I had ridden all of the "Mother’s Day" trails without putting my foot down for any technical mishaps or rest breaks. I was out of breath, my lungs were burning, and I was coughing up phlegm. You know. The typical things that happen when a person doesn’t have great lungs and it’s chilly outside.
I felt great! I was almost in disbelief over the fact that the ride had even happened and that it was as successful as it was. I had a feeling during the ride that I would come out victorious today-but I chose to ignore it. Sometimes I get over-confident and ultimately find myself falling slightly short and feeling a grand sense of disappointment.
I rode the trail at my pace, working on using the dial on my shock at spots (turn it on for descents or off for climbs) because what’s the point of having a shock if you aren’t going to use it? I’ve ridden my Trek Cali Carbon SLX for a few months now and have been treating the dial like I used to treat a water bottle cage. Not touchn’ it.
The last ride Travis and I went on I was told to experiment. I’m looking down at the dial and couldn’t figure out what did what. Flip all the way up to open it, down to off and in the middle for the all-purpose Trail setting. I’ve been riding it on Trail all the time, missing out on cushy benefits of the Descend and the firmness of the Climb settings.
It’s hard for me to not feel like I need to come to a full on stop before I flip the switch. I’m not fully comfortable with removing my hands from the handlebar when in motion on the dirt trails. Sometimes straight stretches of trail are few and far-between, so how does one move eye contact from trail to bike and not die? These are answers I do not know. Time, practice, and familiarity with the switch- everything in due time. I was the individual who had to ride for several weeks straight, practicing simply removing her hand from the handlebar, eventually reaching to simply touch the water bottle which was nestled happily in the cage. I’m proficient enough now on paved surfaces to reach for a water bottle, a snack from my jersey pocket, and to even open up my flip phone. Moving a little switch to open/close my shock will be simple before too long. Believe in yourself, Josie!
Another thing I’ve been working on for several rides is decreasing the amount of time I take on my rest breaks. I figure when I do the time trails, I’m not going to allow myself the luxury of stopping for long periods of time after certain sets. So I’m working on utilizing the straight stretches of trail to pedal a little slower so I can catch my breath, especially after tougher inclines. Use downhill areas as a way to gain back some lung capacity as well. Work on using momentum. There are so many things relating to technique that I’m still finding, and all in all, it seems I have hardly scratched the surface.
When I finished riding the Mother’s Day trails, I sat and reflected on the ride. Has choosing this trail set to ride more regularly really helped with my endurance? (insert imagery of my lungs becoming happier and healthier, along with my own amazement of personal/physical growth.) I’m learning more about my bike, how it functions and what I can do with it. I’m gaining more confidence in myself and my riding abilities as well as expanding my skill repertoire.
It all adds up.