Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Riding

Despite my whining about the weather last week, we ended up having a pretty good weekend. Saturday was clear and cool – in the low 50s – with a brisk but not too annoying breeze.

We rode what is becoming our standard cool weather "long ride" – a 53 mile loop from our house using Denver's great bike path system. A couple sections of the South Platte River Trail get sort of congested, but it is fun to see how many people get out on their bikes, and it gives us "rabbits" to chase (faster riders we try to reel in).

Sunday looked pretty gloomy when we got up. Both Phil and I were kind of moping around. We agreed we'd head downstairs to our trainers at 130 pm for a 2 hour indoor ride – not something we were looking forward to.

About 1030 am we picked up our mountain bikes from the local bike shop. Our bikes had been in the shop for almost 2 weeks, getting major tune-ups – we had our hubs rebuilt, bushings replaced, brake and derailleur cables replaced and my rear shock rebuilt. Phil also arranged to have our front forks rebuilt by Push Industries (my birthday present).

Forks generally come from the factory set up to handle whatever a 200 pound aggressive rider can throw at them. That just doesn't work well for a a smaller, lighter rider like me – and my suspension had never been tuned for me, so I was not getting the most out of my bike. Push rebuilt my fork and tuned it based on my responses to a questionnaire (how much do you weigh, what kind of riding do you do, what kind of performance are you hoping for, etc.).

The weather was still looking dicey (a rain/snow mix was predicted), and only about 42 degrees, when we picked up the bikes. We were both anxious to take the bikes out for a spin, though, and see if we could feel any differences in our newly tuned suspensions.
So we broke out the heavy tights, heavy gloves, 3 layers of jerseys, shoe covers, and got ready to ride. We thought our favorite trail (South Table Mountain) would be too muddy to ride, so we intended to ride over to Bear Creek State Park, staying on pavement most of the way.

As we waddled out to our bikes (3 layers of clothing does impede free movement a bit) our neighbor Brian walked by with his little boy. Brian had been running on South Table Mountain earlier, and he said there was little or no mud. Our spirits and enthusiasm lifted noticeably. And off we went for a two hour spin on the trails on and around South Table Mountain.

The sun came out from behind the clouds and it warmed up to almost 50 degrees. We had a great ride, playing around by bashing into rocks and stuff to see how the bikes handled. My suspension is noticeably softer. Compared to my previous settings, it feels like I went from a rigid fork to finally having suspension.

All in all, a good weekend on the bikes.

Just as a side note: Now that we know, officially, that we'll be riding at Leadville this year, I'll start sharing more details of our actual training plans, nutrition strategies, etc. One notable change already - comparing this year to 2005 and 2007, for the January/February timeframe, we are riding almost twice as many hours (averaging 10 hours a week this year compared to about 5 hours a week in the prior years.)

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