Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mr. Clean

Today I overcame an obstacle that frustrated me every time I rode the mountain bike trails at New Fane last year.  Now, I didn’t go there very often, but never once did I ride up this silly little hill near the end of Loop 3:

The red dot marks the spot.

It’s not long or particularly steep or over-populated by rocks and roots, but something about it just defeated me.  Maybe it was the approach and the lack of momentum at the base.  Whatever it was, problem solved!  Today after a test lap of Loops 1 & 2 to make sure I was happy with my tire pressure, I completed two full laps and rode cleanly each time.  Not only did I make it up the little hill that had been my nemesis, but I did so with ease.

Was it the bike?  Today I rode my mountain bike, a 29er that fits me.  All last year I rode a slightly-too-small borrowed bike with 26-inch wheels.  When I rode at Glacial Blue Hills last Tuesday—my first real mountain biking experience with the 29er—I knew I was descending faster and more confidently, but I didn’t seem to be climbing any better.  Maybe I did take a little more momentum into the base of that hill today.  Maybe familiarity with New Fane is starting to manifest itself: the hill no longer catches me off-guard and I approach it in the right gear and on a good line.

The important thing is that I’ve made progress.  Even if I’ve only purchased progress and I’m still the same hack of a rider I was last year, I had a great time on the trails this evening.  I want to go back, to do more, to get faster.  Today I didn’t pay any attention to my lap time when I did my first clean run.  But feeling good about the way it had gone, I did time myself on the second lap.  As with the time I recorded on my Eisenbahn State Trail time trial course last Wednesday, I wasn’t riding all-out and I really wanted only to have a starting point for future efforts.  I got back to the parking lot in 32 minutes.  Taking just 5 minutes off that time would put me in the company of some very good riders.  Taking 10 minutes off would make me a threat for a high finish at the WEMS race in New Fane on Sep. 22.  I don’t know how realistic the latter scenario is, but at least I have a benchmark.

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