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First mountain bike ride

Old 08-22-15, 10:48 AM
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MickeyDee
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First mountain bike ride

My daughter came down last Saturday with her mountain bike. She just learned that she's pregnant and wanted to trade for my hybrid. I figured why not. This was pretty exciting for me. Now I had to find a mountain biking trail. Hmmm... Never done that before and never ever thought I would. After all, I'm too old for that stuff.

Well, I found a beginner/intermediate trail and went out. If you're from the midwest, you know that it rarely gets over 85, let alone into the 90's. It did last Sunday. I went on about a five mile trail that was kinda scary for me since I've never done it before. I talked with a guy when I got there and he advised me to watch it when I get speed because then there'll be a sharp turn. To put this in context, he hadn't ridden this trail in 15 years and said it was completely different now.

So I took my ignorant self on the trail along with my backpack full of water. Yep, I have to have the water or I can't ride and there's no place on the bike for a bottle. So I took a pack I use for hiking and fill the bladder up with water.

I was petrified at first. Mostly of going down. So many rocks, lots of hills. Several times I could see the newspaper headlines with my name on the cover. But I didn't fall off. And I think I rode up as many hills as I walked so I feel good about that!

About 2/3 of the way through I was ready to go home. But I kept going. Wow! I learned so much. What surprised me most was how much upper body strength you use. Sure, you need the leg power going up the hills, but I think I mostly need the lungs and oxygen to get to my muscles.

I have yet to decide whether this is something I'll keep doing, but I do know I'll have to go a few more times to know. I like the challenge and how much you have to focus. I like that a lot of it is about technique and control. I have not got very much of either so I can pretty much only go up from where I'm at.

I think I want to take the bike out on a a regular more flat trail next and then maybe circle back around to this trail in a week or two. My finger joints and wrists are the most surprising thing that hurt. I think because I had my hands on the brakes all time that I wasn't going up. I'm sure that will get better as I get more accustomed to it.
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Old 08-22-15, 11:45 AM
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Yup, it is a whole different deal. The only thing i can say is not to put to much air in the tires, you want them a little on the soft side to absorb bumps and bite into the ground.
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Old 08-22-15, 03:39 PM
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Because of a couple of serious falls & injuries on my mtb over the last few years I've gone the other direction to the op and started doing more road riding. While I'm enjoying most of my rides I still miss the excitement and those buttock-clenching moments on some of the downhill trails.

I suppose that road bikes are a more sedate and suitable form of cycling for an oldie like me.
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Old 08-22-15, 08:21 PM
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Variety is the spice of life!
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Old 08-22-15, 08:45 PM
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I was out riding some single track the other day and the thing that struck me was the concentration involved. I found that about an hour in of no-stop mostly very twisty and mostly flat riding I was just beat mentally. There is just no time to let the mind wander at all.

Next time out I made sure to take a break every 20 or so for a slug of water and a bit of enjoying the surroundings. Much better.

... I am also coming around to the suspension idea. I ride a vintage MTB with no suspension and I am begining to think of tree roots as evil.
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Old 08-23-15, 06:39 AM
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I had to give up mountain biking when I started breaking things on my body. I have to say though that your post made me really miss it. I used to ride with a bunch of guys every Saturday morning of the year - no excuses were granted for weather conditions. Below freezing temperatures are actually some of the best riding because the trails aren't muddy. Most of the time on the technical downhills the best thing to do is to just let go of the brakes and go. And those hyper expensive suspension forks - they're worth it. If you can get the dampening right they'll keep your front wheel in contact with the ground, you'll have much better control, and consequently be able to ride much faster on the bumpy downhills. Best of all, you'll be able to keep up with riders who are better than you.
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Old 08-23-15, 07:39 AM
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I love my mountain bike, but between the falling and the muscle-pulling terrain on the trails around here I gave it up and went back on the road. Now, I have a gravel bike. In some ways the best of both worlds - back roads through the woods with little or no traffic, hills that are interesting if not lung-busting, bigger tires to soak up the bumps.
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Old 08-23-15, 08:36 AM
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You don't HAVE to ride like a 19 year old idiot just because you're sitting on a mountain bike. Ride at a slightly challenging rate for your age and temperament, and you should have a lot of fun without getting too beat up.
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Old 08-23-15, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
You don't HAVE to ride like a 19 year old idiot just because you're sitting on a mountain bike.
Are you sure?
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Old 08-23-15, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
You don't HAVE to ride like a 19 year old idiot just because you're sitting on a mountain bike. Ride at a slightly challenging rate for your age and temperament, and you should have a lot of fun without getting too beat up.

Sensible advice - until you get to that scary bit on the trail and just have to try it out.


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Old 08-23-15, 01:56 PM
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I ride a mtn bike. I bought one about a year ago and decided that's about the most fun a person can have and stay out of jail. I'm like a little kid when I'm on my mtn bike. A couple months ago I bought a road bike, mostly to ride and stay in shape when time constraints are such that I can't load up my mtn bike and drive to the trails. Holy cow I'm loving my road bike just as much. So I've logged only a few rides the last few months on the mtn bike but have put over 1000 miles on the road bike. The mtn bike rides are usually on gravel and fairly smooth or otherwise not technical single track. Yesterday we went to a trail we ride a couple times a year that is a long lung bursting climb to the top with a long, fast and technical descent. As I was going down I became a bit tentative thinking I was in some real danger of getting injured, especially crossing sections of rockarmor trail. All I could think was, "If I break my collarbone I won't be riding ANY bike for a while." At age 55, I know I won't heal as fast as I would in my younger days.

So I guess my point is, I don't typically feel danger on my road bike, or even my mtn bike for that matter usually. But there are certainly trails that are more technically and physically challenging than others, and just faster. Thus by default, the danger level can go up. Judge your trails according to level of danger, risk or adrenaline rush you're willing to accept and then go ride your bikes according to your own set criteria. Ride your own ride and don't worry about how you look or how fast you go. Mountain bikes are great fun and safe as road bikes. Road bikes are great fun and safe as mountain bikes.

One thing to consider, you'll never be hit by a distracted motorist texting out in the woods. That's probably the greatest element of danger we face on road bikes, and a very real one with likely worse outcomes than falling on the trail.

Couple hints, use both brakes when descending a steep slope, always keeping one or two fingers on the levers. Trying to slowly and tentatively pick your way across rocky/rooty/technical sections will likely cause you to crash. Keeping up some speed will actually help float across the rocky sections. It's amazing the terrain today's mountain bikes can take. Drop your seat on the downhills and literally push your butt off and behind/below the seat on really steep downhills and use your legs/knees along with your suspension to absorb shock. Try not to hold a death grip on the handlebars, that's likely where your sore wrists/fingers are coming from. Have fun!
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Old 08-23-15, 03:08 PM
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Four Years now In the woods, Alafia, known around the world I'm told.
I don't ride the double black diamond trails and very few black diamond one's.

Full body workout ? You Betcha !
I can burn my entire body down, from fresh to tank empty workout In less than 15 miles,,,Only took 8 miles today,,slogging mud Is super hard.
My sides are going to hurt tomorrow and I will need some more ab work mid week.

I love it so

2 ton vehicles spewing poisons right at me, Tail pipes are on the right, and what they are spitting Is deadly. These made of steel missiles passing a few feet or less next to my soft flesh with Texting drivers,, no thank you.
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