I'm a newbie here, so let me explain what condition I'm in.
I started riding off-road about 4 years ago on a $300 full suspension bike that I got from Costco before I went to college. I took it out on a local trail where it was pretty flat, and learned how quickly I could steer the bike, how to handle bumps, etc. It was extremely heavy though, and I started to break different parts on it with the riding I was doing.
Last year, I bought a 2003 Giant Rainier that was too small. I'm around 6'1" and the bike was 17" with a huge stem and long seatpost. I never really had a bike that fit me so I was ignorant about what size to get, and also ignorant about components/suspension. I rode on the San Felasco trail here several times, learned quite a bit, and went to one race. I actually learned a lot more doing urban style riding, how to take bigger drops, how to position yourself when going down stairs, how to take jumps, etc. and I also had to learn how to bunny hop on the Rainier since I never figured it out when I was younger.
Anyway, my Rainier was stolen while it was locked up and I was in class, and since then I had been missing the trail a whole lot. I started thinking about what I really did not like about the Rainier. It was too small. I hated the Axel fork, I bottomed it out all the time and could do so simply by standing next to the bike and pressing down on the handlebars (I weigh about 170-175). I also didn't like the huge flexy stem. I realized that although I learned a lot from it, urban riding isn't my thing but XC is. I like the fluidity of it. I don't like riding in a small area and hitting the same spot over and over. I like movement and continuity.
I finally realized that I should go ahead and go for what I really want in a bike, a nice cross-country frame with rigid full suspension that I can't bottom out by pressing down on the handlebars, and a much larger frame. I got a great deal at the local bike shop for an XL '04 Stumpjumper Comp with Fox Float 100RL and the triad style rear shock. I won't be taking this baby to class, because I actually like the thing and don't want to have it disappear on me like the Rainier. I also want to take care of it so that it will last a long time, and with the stumpjumper I'll have plenty of room to upgrade.
I think I finally got everything adjusted right after taking it out on a road ride yesterday. The rear derailer was causing problems when I first got the bike, ghost shifting and all that, so I showed my roommate (who works at the shop) and he figured out that the cable housing under the bottom bracket was too short, causing the cable to be tight/loosen with the suspension movement. I got that fixed, then the front derailer wasn't shifting out of the big ring. I believe a nut on the derailer mount was interfering with the cage movement, but the shop fixed it right away.
Now that I have that out of the way, here is my question:
I'm out of shape. There is a 50 mile day of riding here on the local trail that I would like to attempt, and I have less than 2 months to get into riding condition. For 2 weeks (over christmas) I'll be away from biking because I'll be in another state. What all can I do to get into condition to handle those 50 miles without dying?
The first group road ride I was on (on my fuji road bike) I did 44miles in a little over 2 hours, more like 2 1/2. I'm probably in the same shape now, but I've been wanting to get out and jog over the break to get my endurance up.
The first race I'd been on nearly killed me (less than 5 miles of FSU off road, on the undersized Rainier), but mainly because I was dehydrated. I'll have a camelback now, so I'm not too worried about that.
Will I be able to handle 50 miles of XC style riding? My roommate said no way he's doing it, but I'm interested in the challenge.