When the myriad of workouts I completed this week are added up my math skills tell me that I put together another astonishingly huge volume week of work. I swam once, ran twice and biked thrice. I still have yet to hop on my road bike. I actually haven't ridden on the roads since ye ol' Shipwreck Sprinternational. I will not get back on the roads again until next Sunday, when the world-famous Tour de El Amigo takes place. That epic test of human performance and appetite is invite-only, so if you are hearing about it for the first time it would appear as though you have yet to make the cut. Just kidding, sort of. As defending champion of the sprint and KOM competition from its last iteration from 2010 I, despite lacking any semblance of fitness, must show my face and complete the race.
That was tangential, but I was getting to the fact that I have spent all my ride time the past two weeks on the trails. As I was saying last week, it's an interesting learning process for me. I've added to the list of trails I've explored by heading to Sherman Branch this week. I'd heard good things about those trails for a while; most described them as "fun and fast." What this translates to in my mind is "fast and easy." In some ways I've taken a complete 180 since my previous experiences mountain biking in college, where I much preferred big, roaring downhills with big jumps and lots of berm-age. One of my favorite things to do now is make my way up or down a technical section that requires lots of power and careful selection of line. Sherman Branch doesn't have a lot of that. The Whitewater Center has become the go-to place for me. It has a good mix of trail types, lots of miles and I'm now the proud owner of a parking pass!
Don't get me wrong, Sherman Branch was awesome. I went by myself though, which is never quite as much fun as with some bros. The trails there also contain ample opportunities to demolish oneself and definitely more than the WWC. SB has faster trails and some definite jumps so taking one of those wrong can lead you straight into a tree at 20mph in the air. Not the best position in which to find oneself.
I say all that, but I experienced my first crash this weekend on the mountain bike. Due to the season, there are - literally - millions of leaves on the ground and consequently, on the trails. At Sherman Branch someone has clearly blown the leaves off the trails (which is apparently bad for it, actually; leaves are like mulch and help keep the soil healthy) whereas at the WWC the trails are completely covered in some spots. To provide further context, my longest mountain bike ride has been 1.5hrs and one thing I've noticed with mountain biking is that as you get tired you start to make a LOT more mistakes. On the road bike (and when I'm fit) you can zone out and have nothing bad happen (sweeping generalization, but the point is made). On the mountain bike, however, zone out and you crash. That's it. 1.5hrs of mountain biking requires 1.5hrs of constant attention and focus. It's quite tiring when you're not used to it. So on Sunday we were at about 1.25hrs and I was definitely tired. I was pushing up a hill and it had a somewhat sharp left turn and I turned late while my front wheel was on a patch of leaves. My front wheel slid out and I fell over and slid into a tree. Boom. Scraped up my left knee a bit but was pretty much entirely ok. Now, had I fallen over on the road pushing up a hill on a turn I would certainly have more scrapes! So that's one good thing about being on the trails: the injuries are frequently much less severe.
Before riding, I took this picture of Behme's bike (in front) and my bike (in back) just because it was a funny display of how much bikes have changed. Behme's is a custom designed Ted Wojcik (Whoa-Jick) steel framed mountain bike from back when he used to race "expert" some undetermined number of years ago. My bike is a mass-produced Felt Nine 20. The differences are pretty obvious. I ride a bigger sized frame than Behme to begin with but the difference in size of these bikes is incredible. Behme's bike was legit top of the line back in the day. It's got XTR, Rock Shox Sid fork, custom titanium spoked XTR wheels, etc. Mine is almost top of the line aluminum-framed (XT vs XTR or XX) and outweighs Behme's bike by a LOT. But the huge wheels on the 29er (vs. Behme's traditional 26" wheels/tires), the powerful hydraulic brakes, and very nice suspension fork mean my bike can absorb a lot more "damage" than Behme's bike. I can be significantly less careful and power my way through some obstacles that Behme has to navigate more carefully. It's interesting riding behind someone on a 29er vs. riding behind Behme. The 29er just bombs through stuff whereas Behme meanders a lot more. I definitely appreciate my bike taking up some of the slack my lack of skills leave!
On another note, it's coming close to time to part ways with my beloved 2011 Cervelo P3. I rode it a lot in two years and am perfectly happy to keep it a third if it comes to that. Interested parties inquire within!