This weekend I decided to go back to the "Beast."
The "Beast" being an easy bike trail that runs on an old highway in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in central Wisconsin.
Last September I was taking a 3-day weekend up there to relax and at the last moment, threw my Bridgestone CB-1 into the back of my hatchback. Over the last 15 years I'd only ridden it a few times, on neighborhood cruises. Longest ride over that period was probably 2 miles on level streets. On this trip I wanted to try to ride it to see if I might enjoy biking again & in hopes of using that to get in better shape.
I followed through and saddled up at Kickapoo. It was a humbling experience. I had barely started down the trail when my rear started hurting. I was using a Vetta gel saddle and it no longer did the trick. After about a mile, my hands started hurting. Then I hit a long incline, not too steep - maybe 4%, but I wasn't ready for it at all. At the two mile mark, I got off of the bike for 10 minutes to rest my lungs, legs, butt, and hands. Then I turned for home. Coming up the other side of the incline I had to stop 3 times. By the time I got back to the car, I was in agony.
Not giving up too easily, I tried another section of the trail the next day. My legs were still tired from the day before and I ran out of steam on another long incline. And my butt was screaming in pain. Rode for only 3 miles.
Saturday I went back. Now on my "dialed-in" Trek 7600. Higher hand position. Terry Cite saddle. Padded shorts & gloves. After lightly (well short of my goals) working out over the winter & spring. But at least I worked out some on my exercycle and ridden maybe 18-20 times since then. And have been taking the stairs at work 100% of the time (2 to 3 floors depending on the trip). I knew I wasn't in good shape, but I was hoping that some progress would be realized.
I strap on the helmet and head into the "Beast." In 10 minutes I'm passing the point where I turned back last fall. Then another half-mile to the point where I started ride 2. I struggled some going up the long incline but it wasn't too bad. Another 7-8 minutes and I passed where I turned back on that ride. It was on to the end of the trail and then up the final steeper (est 8%) hill. Distance was about 5 miles and it took me about 35 minutes.
My legs were feeling it. That last climb was hard for me, I kept dropping my gears until I kinda walked up the last 50 meters on my small front cog and 3rd on my rear. I was determined not to drop all the way to the granniest gear of all.
Then I rested for 10 minutes and headed back. With my legs now tired, I fought my way up those long inclines. Inclines that most of the riders here would have barely batted an eye at. But I made it the entire way back with only one brief stretch stop.
So a very modest ride of approx 10 miles over gently rolling terrain. Inclines were steeper than rail trails, since it had been a highway, but not a whole lot. My performance was still very humbling, but it sure felt better than what I had done just a few months ago. No hand pain at all, didn't even use my bar ends for different hand positions.
Oh, and like a true Fred, I forgot to check the pressure in my tires and rode the entire course at 45 psi (supposed to be 65)- making it harder than it needed to be.