Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Difference Between Trail and Road Riding

(at least this weekend)

Road riding you can start when it's already 40F and raining. Whereas with mountain biking you can leave while rain, hail, thunder, lightning is merely looming. It might be waiting to drop like a rock on you at mile 5 of the 10 mile trail.

Saturday it was good to ride with some good folks at Kettles South. I was allowed to take off at "race pace" leading out the group for a few miles (they know this as slightly slower than "easy ride", a.k.a. warm-up). When the rain started coming down, TmonT took the lead while I managed to convert to run-ups on some of the tougher inclines, thus saving the uphill trails from my rear wheel. (note to self, let's try one gear easier). Russel noted something like my bike would be lighter without the pedals if I didn't need them. Maybe I need some trail run shoes for next time. Rick, Liz and MK pretty much left me alone, figurin' R. Tools had the smack talk covered. I thought I was pretty soaked yesterday.

Then comes Sunday. Knowing I've been on vacation and bikeless, I have to get out for regular miles. So I hopped up this morning and did another nearly 2 hours in 40F and rain. This isn't so bad for the first 1/2 hour, maybe even hour. The way home gets a bit tougher. For the uninitiated, it goes something like this:

About 20 or 30 minutes into the ride, your cycling tights are water logged with cold rain, and your legs begin to waffle between cold and stinging. You modify your effort to somewhere between "stay warm" and "able to maintain for the entire ride". The inclines help you stay warm. Speeding up effort is great for warming up the muscles. Keep in mind, as your speed goes up you get exponentially more wet.

Around 45-60 minutes into the ride, your double layer thick gloves are completely soaked. Your hands don't feel too cold, except when you hit a bump and all the water in the gloves moves around. Somewhere around 70-80 minutes, the cold has sapped your energy and you just want to eat / get home. In a past ride, the decision to eat at this point left me shaking on the floor in the fetal position when I got home. It's not the time to have all the blood run to your stomach. Get home, shower then eat.

Speaking of showers, yeah I was in there a good bit just waiting for the itchy red tingling from the cold go away. This is about the least fun of the entire thing. Even when the shower is done, you're bones are still cold. Following up with a hot bowl of oatmeal and an espresso put me back on track.

Ride done. I want to believe these are the days that make racing easy.

I share this not to show how much of a hardened individual I am. Quite the contrary. We can all do a good deal more than we think. I could have easily talked myself out of going today and didn't. I'm glad I didn't.

1 comment:

Bikemilwaukee said...

I totally agree and yes riding in the rain and cold does take its toll on one but it is the life we choose.
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