Trying to get back to reminiscing about the hard rides that I have done and realised that all of them were in the early days of my riding- about 15 years ago. I am going back to newbie riding now- just to encourage some of the riders that are getting worried that they are not progressing well.

Ok- First real mountain bike- a 92 GT Pantera with a U Brake. The bike was a bit heavy but worked and had the right gearing for our local hills. First big ride I did was in the height of summer in 93 and it rained and had been for a couple of weeks. Couple of miles along the valley bottom, and I lost my riding partners very soon. 500 starters along a narrow track and I just lost them. First climb and I walked it. Can't say it was slippery but it was steep. Then lost the route and finished up riding with another lost soul and we refound the route and joined the rest. Long Climb to the top of a hill and it took a lot of effort- in particular as I had just climbed the other side of the hill while I was lost. That downhill was fantastic though and main memory was of a couple of Fast riders catching me at the bottom and asking what tyres I had. They had tried to stay with me but one had lost it completely and fell and the other could not catch me. Have liked Downhills ever since. Another 5 miles of Undulations and we hit the MUD. I walked as the mud was up to my knees in places, and bike was heavy. Then another couple of hills and Downhills and we were at the finish. Total distance was only about 18 miles and I had struggled. Only thing I was hooked. This biking lark was good fun. very hard work at the time but the thrill of getting out with other riders- going over trails that I never knew existed , even though this is my local area, and the joy of waiting for my regular riding partners at the end had given me something to do instead of sitting in front of the TV or gardening.
Couple of weeks ago we did that ride again as part of one of our longer rides. Did a total of 30 miles in just over 3 hours. That original ride of 18 miles had taken 4 hours.----But I still rate it as one of the hardest rides I have ever done. Must admit it is not the hardest- That comes up again in 5 weeks- but as far as being shattered and finding muscles that you never knew existed- this ride was up with the best.