... are killer.
Rode almost 21 miles on a gravel/packed dirt MUP today. For those in the Seattle area, it was the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. We rode the section between the Duvall park and ride and the south and of Carnation. We wanted to try to go a bit further, but were half way through our water and did not want to stop for refills this time.
After the ride I noticed that my upper body (especially the triceps around the elbow) was suffering much worse then my legs. Short of toning up these areas, does anyone have any advice for other areas to focus on for rides like this? We're going to make this a regular every other or third weekend ride.
Focus on staying relaxed. I notice that people who are used to riding on paved surfaces seem to tense up when riding on dirt, gravel, and other surfaces that aren't perfect. This is a natural reaction, but it can also lead to muscle fatigue. Back when I was teaching motorcycle racing, we'd frequently see people who had a "death grip" on the handlebars. The signal to let them know they were too tense was to pass them, then ride in front for a few corners flapping your elbows like a chicken! No way to do that unless your upper body without your upper body being relaxed...
Also, make sure that you've got the correct bike fit. In most cases, you don't want to be supporting too much weight with your hands and arms.
There is a lot more vibration travelling through your arms on an unpaved path. As sstorkel said, relaxing and a good bike fit help the situation.
When I am down at our Iowa place I ride a limestone MUP that circles the town. It is 16 miles of a good workout, up and down little hills, rutted switchbacks, through cornfields, woods and around ponds. I love the ride. I agree with others, relax and you won't be so sore.
The problem is your bike. You need to do what made America great. Capitalism!
Buy a new bike that fits. then work on relaxing
Makes perfect sense, I'll try to relax a bit more the next time. Thanks everyone!