Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bad Lines And Good Lines

One of the hardest things about learning how to mountain bike again besides just learning to ride a bike with the intent of going fast has been remastering the technical skills that I lost many years ago or hell, I might have never had.

Last fall I could not ride anything that was loose really, uphill or downhill and struggled even on flat stuff.  Blind curves?  I'd be off the bike. Back tire start spinning?  I am off the bike pushing.  Often times even if the front wheel would deviate just slightest bit from my intended path I would completely freeze up and fail to function... I'd freak out and be off of the bike.  I can't tell you how many times I went over at low speed uphill because I could not get unclipped fast enough. Low speed spills are the worse.

So I have had to learn a lot.  I've had to learn to trust the trail.  I've had to learn to trust the bike.  Trust the tires and traction even if I don't think the tires will bite; more than often they do.  And I guess to a large extent... trust myself and teach myself how to relax.

Well the best way for me to get better at the technical stuff has been to just get out and ride it.  Also talking to friends like Tony Sadzewicz (Annie's Godfather) who has forgotten more about mountain biking than I will ever learn has helped.  It helps to know that some of the things I struggle with (like deep sand) gives lots of other people fits too.

Improving my technical skills has been a slow but steady process.  A lot of it came through the winter in bits and pieces just because of the nasty shit I had to ride because it was winter.  As the weather  has warmed up I have found myself venturing more and more onto loose, unpredictable and often rocky single track.  A little here... a little there... as more time has worn on I have found myself being able to ride up AND down stuff that I for certain would have bit it on last fall when I first got the Superfly. 

And even though yesterday was to be a day off I went over to Ute Valley Park and just practiced on the more challenging (well for me at least) trails over there.  It is also a good place to ride and to see exactly where your limits are as well. There are things there I hope to be riding down by the end of the year maybe but for now are better left alone.  What has been obvious though lately and yesterday was that I am getting to the point where I don't have to be in the perfect line to ride up or down something.  I can be out of bounds a bit and then recover.  THAT has been a huge boost to my confidence.  Knowing that I can handle and survive a bad line?  That is pretty cool.

Even in this morning's workout over in Red Rocks on the hill repeats sometimes I found myself going up and not always exactly where I was intending to be.   Grinding away with the heart rate north of 160 I tend to forget to do certain things, like think... keep my eyes open and pay attention so I do often veer off course... but I was always able to recover even if I ended up in a bad line.

This morning's workout was awesome by the way.  I wanted to get out early before the heat, the wind and smoke all moved in today.  Red Rocks that early in the morning is quiet and it was the first time I have ridden there in ages that the damn wind was not ripping out of the south at 30 miles per hour.  Basically I rode over there, then did 4x2:00 repeats with a 3:00 RBI on the Lions Back.  After my last repeat I just popped it into granny gear and rode real easy to the top ridge to recover.

I was feeling pretty good... workout is pretty much done... the morning light is pretty awesome.  It is quiet and I haven't seen a soul all morning.  The moon is still up and setting in the west.  Just one of those absolutely wonderful Colorado mornings in the summertime.  Except I have to take a whiz.

So for the moment my ultrarunner comes out along with another relevant piece of anatomy and it was a great relief as I had been hammering the water all morning.  So there I am standing in all my glory, bibs pulled down, junk out, still straddling the bike even and sure as shit I hear a bike coming up from behind me.  Haven't seen a soul all morning and here comes someone out of nowhere practically.  So, I just turn my head around over my shoulder and say good morning as I am still in the process of taking a leak.

This dude I swear looks at me like I shit in his rice crispies.  Seriously.  Cyclists are too sensitive I think... and he proceeds to bitch me out.... No shit!  "Couldn't you have found tree?" Then he throws in "What if it wasn't me but what if a lady had ridden up here and seen you dong that?"  I think this dude is going to have a heart attack over the whole thing.

By now I have had enough of this jerk.  I had finished my thing anyway.... I removed my sunglasses, looked him straight in the eye and smiled and said... "Then I am sure it would have made her day!" (Cue rim shot.)  I laughed at  him and rode back down the trail pretty proud of myself I have to say.

Now... That, was a good line!

Today's funny lines...

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