In order to take advantage of the short day at the office, I decided to spend some time on the bike. I’ve missed out on the bike a bit lately because of home improvement work. I did get a short mtb ride a couple weeks ago after I helped with some local trail maintenance, but I wanted more. Unfortunately, I am not supposed to post my GPS tracks of the rides yet. The trails are on university property, and they’re technically not finished yet. Right now, it looks like the grand opening won’t happen until May as the trails get finished up. But, the trails are also not closed. The guy in charge of building wants folks to ride the trail so it can be fine-tuned before opening day. So, I’ve been taking advantage.
It’s a good bit of trail for such a small space, to be honest. And the woods are so dense, you don’t notice very often how tightly the trail is packed in there. But the current redesign has made the trail system there 100% better than it was. When I first rode there, it was largely full of bad flow. There were 1 or 2 spots previously that had good flow, but on the whole it was hard to get into a groove. This trail has a much better flow. There are some issues in a couple spots, but the situation has reversed. Now most of it has good flow and there are a few spots that don’t flow so well. Hopefully those spots can get ironed out in the next month or two.
Well…on to my ride. I got going in the early afternoon. I had to ride across campus to get to the trails. I opted to start at the top of the hill today, instead of the lower trailhead. I’ve lost a bit of my bike handling skills over the past year in the wake of my illness. My time in a coma with brain stem swelling is probably the primary culprit. As such, I don’t hold tight, clean lines as well. And I crash more. Nothing serious. It’s more of an irritation than anything. I am going to need to set up some obstacles I can practice on in my backyard.
Overall the ride went well. I felt more confident and controlled today compared to my last ride. There’s still a section of trail that gives me fits. And during this ride, it really gave me one. There’s a couple of momentum sections (DEEP whoop-de-doos) that need some fine tuning. One in particular that needs the work has a creeping line where other riders also seem to be having trouble keeping momentum through the ruts at the bottom. At any rate, I stalled on the way back up, leaned over into a tree, and left a fair bit of skin behind as I slid back down the hill.
No blood was let onto the trail, and this thing looks worse than it is. But I can tell you that it burned like crazy in the shower afterwards.
But otherwise, everything went smoothly. I’m starting to really see how my current tires are not good for this terrain. I’m running 2.1 Specialized FastTrack Pro tires, and while they’re quite good on clay hardpack, they’re not so hot on my local geology (mostly packed sand). They broke loose on me in a couple corners, especially climbing turns where I had to weight the rear wheel to maintain forward momentum. I’ve been considering a swap in tires. Continental Mountain King 2.4’s (in the UST variety, since I have UST wheels I’m not taking advantage of) would be a good match for local conditions. I plan to make my switch sometime this season when the wife will give me the okay.
I rode a section today that I missed last time. Last time, I seemed to have hit all the perimeter stuff, but missed everything in the middle. I saw a downhill-only route last time with obstacles I’m not quite ready to ride yet, so I knew about that one. But in looking at the map, there was such a large blank spot that there HAD to be something else in there. I found it this time. It’s a section called Labyrinth that covers quite a lot of ground. I rode it uphill on this occasion, and it really drew out the climb to the top of the hill. It looks like it’d be just as nice going the other way. I tested myself a little with some skinnies and small jumps. I felt “off” on them, but not bad. I have enough backyard (with some woods) that I can build some practice trails (even with some woods so I can hide it all from my wife).
I’m a little bummed that I’m not supposed to post my GPS tracks yet.