Thursday, June 04, 2009

Murphy was mean to me...

...but I sorta deserved it.

I took the new (old) mountain bike I bought from KM out to Murphy-Hanrehan's MTB trails with a co-worker of mine on Thursday evening. Now, I've never done single-track before, and my trail riding really consisted of fire roads and very little of that.

All right, I'm really a freakin' newbie MTB'er, happy?

Anyway, I went and hit the Beginner and Intermediate trails whilst following Jeff. I was lucky in that Jeff is experienced enough to know how to treat a rookie (but forgetting to bring his shoes with cleats helped a bit too). Riding a MTB on single-track is a quite a different experience after riding rigid commuters and straight, paved streets (no, duh!). The Boingy Factor is something that I needed to take into account when attempting to apply power to the bike while climbing, for example. A fat guy on a sprung bike loses power when he stands up to pedal and the front shock absorbs most of the energy, though of course standing up in a fully wooded single-track isn't such a great idea in the first place and your humble narrator figured that out in rather short order...

I wanted to start this sport to improve my bicycle handling in general and I can see that I was correct in my assumption -- now I need to apply this in practice. Quick downhills to right angle turns to short, steep climbs while avoiding roots and rocks and the increasingly encroaching trees does make one pay close attention to what one is doing. I was able to follow through the first round without incident and that brought my demeanor from cautious and alert to straight up cocky. After completing the first lap of the Beginner/Intermediate, I was ready for a second go.

Only emotionally -- mentally I was tired (patching this week has meant some late nights) and physically I was balancing on the onset of bonk as my lunch was long gone and the aforementioned lack of sleep, but I didn't notice. Endorphins and adrenaline is heady cocktail for the tyro, and I was set for another go. I wasn't so stupid to think that I could take on the advanced, but I wasn't afraid of what I knew (or thought I knew).

The second time through was going well, but I was going faster and I was slipping through turns that I hadn't missed before. Cockiness and bonk is a toxic mix indeed and I knew that I should slow down, but I didn't care -- I was doing just freaking fine! Hell, I was ready to pass Jeff! We made to the halfway point where the Intermediate meets the Advanced and we stopped for a breather and I believed that I was doing better than Jeff in that I wasn't nearly as tired (cue ominous music). We started out again and I started noticing the pit in my stomach wasn't necessarily just excitement. Since we're only a mile and a half from the entrance, I didn't care and I would push through regardless.

This is when thing got stupid (things, of course, meaning me). I pushed too hard on downslope and started losing it on a turn, panicked a bit on the recovery and then fogged on brake/shift move and clipped a tree with a handlebar, which gently sent me into the woods.

Ow.

I picked myself up and grabbed the bike, both being serviceable and continued on. My (over)confidence now rightly shattered, my bonk started to force me too far in the other direction and I became too cautious. I was more worried about the condition of my shifting when I missed a turn, overcompensated and then had another tree snagged the other handlebar, sending me sprawling once again.

Ow.

This time the rear brake was a bit wonky, but we were close enough to the finish to not be too concerned and I limped, figuratively and literally, to the parking lot and back to Jeff's truck where he I was gently schooled about bonking and trail riding. Lesson learned, my friend, as I have the scrapes (nothing horrible) to prove it and the endorphins from the ride to ignore any pain. Crikey, it's like other stupid things I've done (hockey and rugby), I can't wait to go again...

7 comments:

KM said...

Yeah, yeah. But you had fun, right?

bother yam said...

Can't wait to go again...

The Old Bag said...

Welcome to mountain biking! Glad you're adding it to your resume!

rlove2bike said...

I have been fortunate to be out with two young bucks that are in great shape on their first skinny track ride. It can be very humbling. It sounds as though you enjoyed it or you woundn't be going again.

WheelDancer said...

I had no idea how much skill I would gain by adding mountain biking to my activity list but my share of cocky crashes brought me around to see that, as in life off the bike, risks move us through life even when pain is involved.

Glad you have joined the brethren (sistren?) of the knobby tires!

Fat Lad said...

Well done that man, once you go the way of the dirt it is a difficult path to leave...

Fat Lad

Snakebite said...

Hockey and Rugby? At the same time??? Cool!!!