Friends, as we start to wind down the year I am increasingly more aware that I want to set some goals for next year. I am currently about 175 miles short of 2000 miles this year, which is over triple my total mileage last year. Today’s brunch ride was cancelled due to rain, wet roads and patchy fog … so now I have to find new and innovative ways to complete my goal!
I’ve also started looking at events for next year. Here’s my preliminary goals for 2013, in no particular order:
3,000 miles total distance
regular bike commuting (at least 2-3 times per week, early spring through late fall)
… or, there are too many others out on the damn trail.
Today I attended my first mountain biking skills clinic, run by our excellent friends at Cadence Cycles in the Manayunk section of the city. I was pretty nervous – being from Colorado means everyone thinks I mountain bike/ski/snowboard/trail run/uber-outdoor-athlete stuff … but the reality is, I took all that open space and facilities for granted. I only started riding my bike for fun (not just transportation) in May of 2011. So yeah – I have never mountain biked before. And I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself and fall – either in general or off the side of the trail.
Falling is fine – just not in front of 30 other people.
So my commuter friend and I rode in the 10 miles to the bike shop. We arrived a little early because we needed our clipless pedals transferred to the demo bikes and seats adjusted. I was able to demo the Fuji Belle, a full suspension bike. Not sure why I had a full when others had hardtails, but it was nice! Note to self: try not to wreck the $2000 bike. There were many others who signed up – some cyclocross racers, some road racers, some newbies like me, and everything in between. Fortunately my skills were in the middle of the newbie range.
We rode about a half-mile or so to get to the trails, using this time to get used to the thumb shifters. Didn’t take long to get the hang of it but once we were out on the trails, I kept to the lower end of the gearing. Made it so much easier to get up the hills.
The first hour was spent just going up and down a hill with lots of roots, rocks, and turns. It was sharper but really honed in on the skills you need to successfully get up the tiny steep portions of a climb, over small obstacles, and getting back downhill.
The second hour was a short trail ride – this is why people love mountain biking! Being in the woods, pedaling and feeling like you are floating over the debris, finding your line and the thrill of successful execution. The leafy single track was just fun. I am not even sure I can adequately describe how exhilarating it is to crank up a steep, rocky incline – unsure you will make it over the top – and then trust your bike as you rip down the other side, rocks and roots and debris be damned.
Skills taught to more experienced riders included log-overs, stairs, and getting enough momentum on a short, steep downhill to get up the next hill. Maybe another time when I feel more confident and ready to take my off-road riding to the next level. Today was about trying it out.
Instead of riding out for lunch with my commuter friend to discuss our new-found skills, my husband picked me up and whisked us to our daughter’s swim lessons. Tomorrow we will get a lunch ride in.
All in all – excellent experience. I don’t have plans to go buy a mountain bike right this minute or anything – but I would like to include it in my goals next year. To get off the road a little more and into the woods. To feel more confident on the trails. To have MORE FUN on my bike.
Friends, it’s been a bit since I last posted because well, I haven’t been riding my bike lately.
I went on a wonderful Earn Your Breakfast ride a few weeks ago to Aunt Judy’s in Doylestown with four guys from Philly Bike Club under cloudy skies and 40 degree temps. I questioned my layering at first because it didn’t seem like enough – long sleeve base, wooly, windbreaker, thin cap under my helmet, full-finger gloves, padded wool socks but no toe covers – but it ended up being perfect. Except for the lack of toe covers – my toes were chilled!
Then I made a total rookie mistake and ate my protein (pepper-onion-tomato-cheese omelette) at breakfast but neglected my starches (potatoes) and carbs (whole wheat toast). A few miles into the return trip my quads were screaming at me. I downed a goo and my legs were happy again. Note to self: fuel the ride!
I also completed my first 5k under sunny skies and upper-40s temps. My time ended up being 33:20 – not too bad for a first-timer. And don’t tell anyone but I actually enjoyed it. My friend used this as a taper event for his entry in the Philly Marathon and he finished in 25something minutes. My other friend, who used this as motivation to work out and get in shape, ran an awesome 40-something time. So many other runners – and free soft pretzels at the finish! I would do another 5k, maybe a 10k if I had make the time to train.
I also signed up for my first ever mountain biking clinic. They have demo bikes that can be used and because I don’t have a mountain bike, I requested one. The flyer said the clinic is open to all levels so I mentioned in my registration this is my first mountain biking experience. So far no one I know has also signed up. I think it would be more fun to fall and laugh WITH someone – but if I have to head out on a solo experience, so be it.
So here we are at Thanksgiving time and I have so much to be thankful for. My family, my friends, my continued employment, a roof over my head, and the ability to meet our basic needs. I’m particularly thankful my parents’ recent health issues have abated and they are here visiting me in Philadelphia today. I’m thankful I have a couple bikes that I can ride in safe neighborhoods with my friends. I’m thankful for you, my faithful readers, because it means I’m not talking into nothing.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you earned your dinner.