|I have just not been riding enough lately
and am not in even the fairly pathetic shape I normally am. So I had
to make a judgement on Friday. Do I do a long, hard ride to help get
me back in shape, or hold back a little to not overdo it for Saturday?
We'd been having a lot of rain, so instead of mountain biking, I rode
35 miles on the paved W&OD trail. Though it wasn't a "hard"
ride, it was enough that I knew it was going to have a little effect
on me the next day.
Saturday morning I drove the 2-1/2 hours to get to the Stokesville
Campground (western Virginia). At 1:30, there was to be a "Women's
Ride/Clinic." Indeed, there were 34 women for the ride, and 4
leaders. I looked up the leaders on the web ahead of time. One woman
missed qualifying for the Olympic team by 1 point. The other two women
were racers. Not quite so good, but pretty darn good. Then I didn't
find much on the 4th.
Of course once I get there, I have
a hard time remembering who the leaders are, what they're names are, and
what they look like. *All* the racers were named "Sue." We headed
off in a giant pack up the gravel road to where we took some double track
up the mountain to Narrowback Ridge. It was in the vicinity of the place
I went riding with MORE on Memorial Day weekend. When we got tothe doubletrack
I, we split into a pack of 3 smaller groups (and I changed the batteries
in my GPS and turned it one). The first and largest group were the "good"
folks who just wanted to head off having a lovely good ride together.
I was in the second group who had some skill but might like to stop now
and again and learn some skills. The third group were the gals who had
little skill on singletrack.
I warned the women
that I was slow, and when the leader (Sue Musante) said she didn't
have anyone to sweep, I volunteered, saying I was an expert. As
we rode along, I noticed I was more technically proficient than
then the couple women in front of me. I had no problems with hopping
little logs across the trail. Nor did I have trouble with the little
rock gardens that weren't very bad at all. Yet, as I'm in worse
shape than normal, I did have trouble keeping up with the group.
We came to one big log and when
we got there, we had a chance to practice at it. Most gals didn't
try. It freaked me out, but I sort of tried, but didn't succeed.
Not too far later, there was another log, just a little smaller.
The idea was to lift your front tire onto the log and hop over.
Well, I did what I always do, now by instinct. I hopped my entire
tire completely over the log. I wound up falling over, too, but
I think that was more because of all the commotion than if I'd been
there by myself.
We rode some more very nice
singletrack on top of the mountain ridgetop. Then we veered off
down to join the doubletrack that paralleled the ridge, but part
way down. There was a moderately big log, then a log pyramid. At
first I didn't hop the log, because there was a pile up of people
ahead of me and I didn't have momentum. Ultimately I backed up,
hopped the first log. But the pyramid freaked me out (but then,
that was part of why I was there, to learn to do these exact features).
I managed to ride up with two of the Sues (Musante and George) spotting
me, but then I kind of endoed off the top.
So see! To Chris and all those
people who don't believe me, I just seem to screw up a lot and I am by
nature a klutz. Somewhere along the line, I formulate that for single
logs, perhaps I need to learn to practice my timing to get my front tire
to land directly on the top of the log. I will start practicing somewhere
with a little bitty 2-3" log getting the timing and technique down
All was fine going
back until the little hill going back up to the campground. Whew!
I walked up the hill--I was beat. It was about 5-1/2 hours after
we started. I hung out, helping a little with the dinner. I talked
briefly with Rich Edwards. And the only person I really knew was
Carl Droms, the caver. When we got our dinner of chicken burritos,
I ate with Carl and his friends, who turned out to be two women
I spent time chatting with at the very beginning riding up the gravel
road. One is a stellar triathlete who is just learning mtbing. The
opposite of me. I've got some skills and no fitness. She's terrifically
fit with no skill. If I recall, her name is Connie and she looks
like my friend Cheryl. The other lady worked at a bike store in
Harrisonburg. Another young woman name MK was with the group, too.
On and on we go along the doubletrack
fireroad. I'm definitely tired. We get to the turn off to climb
the single track back up to the top of the ridge. Around this time
I start to look at the track in my GPS (I'd turned it on when we
left the gravel road when we started, unfortunately not when we'd
left the campground). I could see on it where the trail I was on
would reach the trail we'd ridden down the ridge before. But I was
starting to bonk. I ate a Luna bar, but I think I was toast anyway.
We then blasted downhill on
the same trail we took last Memorial Day weekend. I wound up right
in front of the near-Olympic Sue (Haywood). She made a comment to
the people in earshot she wanted to see good technique with elbows
bent snapping off tree branches. There was a stoppage up ahead,
so I went to pull over to wait, and ask Sue if she had any tips
or constructive criticism on my technique.
Right then I fell over! How embarrassing!
Good thing I have no pretext at being good. Normally I'm not THAT klutzy,
but there you go. She only commented that she recommended we compress
down before the waterbars. To try and save my bruised ego, I had to relate
the story of a guy I know (Noel Sloan) went on a skiing trip and came
back with a broken arm with pins sticking out. He broke his arm at the
bottom of the mountain. He was standing in line for the ski lift oggling
a woman when he fell over and broke it. Sue marveled that he actually
admitted it. She got ahead of me and I marveled as she jumped up on a
giant log at a stream crossing.
Soon we hit the gravel road
and she and I chatted a bit on the downhill. She is a full-time
sponsored racer. I'd read on the web that she's based out of Davis,
WV. But when I asked, she said she spent 3 months in winter in Tucson.
I'd gone to Tucson last February for a mini mtb vacation, so I thought
that was great.
All was fine going back until
the little hill going back up to the campground (checking my GPS
at home we rode up 2114', not including the first long gravel stretch!).
Whew! I walked up the hill--I was beat. It was about 5-1/2 hours
after we started. I hung out, helping a little with the dinner.
I talked briefly with Rich Edwards. And the only person I really
knew was Carl Droms, the caver. When we got our dinner of chicken
burritos, I ate with Carl and his friends, who turned out to be
two women I spent time chatting with at the very beginning riding
up the gravel road. One is a stellar triathlete who is just learning
mtbing. The opposite of me. I've got some skills and no fitness.
She's terrifically fit with no skill. If I recall, her name is Connie
and she looks like my friend Cheryl. The other lady worked at a
bike store in Harrisonburg. Another young woman name MK was with
the group, too. I managed to corner Sue George (since Sue Musante
wasn't nearby and was whom I'd started the conversation with). Is
it a good plan to practice setting my front wheel on top of logs?
In particular as a pretext to learning how to do it over big logs?
Yes. And then, what do I do about my back tire? The plan there is
to hop the back tire so it lands with the wheel on top of the log,
and then the bike will just roll off it. Great! I've got a plan!
Then I headed back home, just before
8 pm. But I was still hungry after my one burrito which was largely veggies,
so I stopped at McDonalds in Bridgewater and got a cheeseburger and small
fries. Hit the spot, though I felt guilty afterward.
As has happened from time to time
on my way back from weekends west, I bonked on the drive back. I had to
pull off at an exit midway back on I-66 and take a nap. I snoozed for
about a half hour, then back on the way I went. Not counting the nap,
it too me 2:20 overall for the drive. :56 from I-81 to home, and :19 from
As I type this up on Sunday, I seem to
have developed a cold. I first noticed some symptoms on Friday. I'm soooo
sleepy today. I wonder if I can use this as an excuse for why I did so poorly
on the ride yesterday??? My blood pressure is as low as it was when I was
on Inderal, though my pulse is higher.