Just a few lessons learned from this past weekend of riding, plus some more random pictures that didn’t make it into the previous posts. By the way, thank Khoa for all the sweet pictures. He lugged around his camera when I was too lazy to carry mine. Thanks Khoa.
Guys who ride your style
It’s better to ride with guys who ride your style than ride with guys who don’t. It’s as simple as that. It takes a little while but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll easily define what style it is that you like to ride. I, for instance, enjoy fast, continuous singletrack with technical sections that don’t require me to drop my seatpost. Exposure doesn’t bother me too much nor do jumps under one-foot tall. I would like to get better at riding fun stuff like teeter totters and logs, but that isn’t particularly important to me. I don’t like climbing but it’s a necessary evil in my book.
I do not liking riding gnarly terrain that is optimized for bikes with more than 5 inches of suspension. I don’t mind occasionally doing the ”point and shoot” through small rock gardens or other ugly stuff but I want a bit of a run out afterwards to get things back under control. Riding with those that enjoy downhill stuff is not only frustrating to me but is also frustrating to the DH rider waiting for me to walk a ridiculously steep or traction-less slope. Riding with guys that have the same tastes in riding as you do makes it easy to have fun for everyone. Just find stuff that you like to ride and they’ll like it too.
Ask for Guidance
The riding on Saturday morning was not our style and since the trails were not marked, we knew the afternoon was probably going to be hit and miss to find trails we like. So we did what any desperate mountain biker does when their back is up against the wall. We asked for guidance. But you can’t just ask anybody. You have to watch for tell tale clues as to the rider’s ability and familiarity lever before asking for help.
What made Tim ask Deb for help beats me, but what I gathered from some hindsight is that Deb exhibited characteristics of one able to help. She had a good bike (a Specialized Safire), proper riding attire (plain woman’s no sleeve jersey and lycra shorts), proper sunglasses (not aviators which we saw a lot of, but riding glasses with interchange-able lenses) and two strap riding shoes. She also, I noticed much later, did not have a hydration pack. Combine this with the other characteristics and this is obvious a knowledgeable rider who is familiar with local trails and her own riding limits. You don’t want to find the poseur or waste time asking the newb.
If you don’t know what to do in regards to hydration, do as much as you can and then add another bottle. The long day of riding got me at the end when I started to cramp a little. The lesson here is to keep drinking. I decided not to fill up my water pack when we went out after lunch… a calculating decision that came back to haunt me at around 3:30pm. The cramping began in my legs and quickly spread, even hitting my triceps which have never cramped before. I ended up taking Khoa’s Accelerade filled bottle and drinking it all. Afterwards, I was ready for another run… maybe two if the lifts hadn’t stopped for the day. Drink, not just water, but stuff to replenish what your body loses and it’s always better to have a little extra than to not have enough. Thanks Khoa.
HT vs. FS
If you can go with a full suspension bike, rock it. At the end of the first day, 7+ hours of riding mind you, my butt was feeling good. I was thinking “no problem” for tomorrow’s ride. But, I was wrong. My worst fear from the past two weeks sprang up and when I got on my saddle the next morning I could feel my sit bones aching. After riding up the fireroad I knew I’d appreciate a full suspension bike. For a guy not accustomed to spending so many hours on the saddle a little love from some full suspension would have gone a long way.
Not to say anything negative about my bike, though. The Redline Mono 9 with 29-inch wheels hung in there with the other full suspension bikes. The steel was great and I swapped back the White Brothers Magic 80mm 29er fork which worked excellently after I dialed it in. The Redline was never the limiting factor during the rides. The rider and his desire to live another day was.
Thanks for all the comments & I hope you enjoyed our pictures and commentary.