Monday, September 6, 2010

The first ride on my new ride

This long holiday weekend has been a joy so far. I survived enjoyed visiting with my in-laws who came to spend the better part of the weekend with us before returning home to Florida. It went so well, that upon a visit to Salem, MA (home of the witch trials) I wasn't even tempted to tell my mother-in-law to get on her broom. We had loads of fun and a bit too much food, so I'm glad to be returning to my normal routine in order to start taking off weight and training for my various upcoming endeavors.

As I mentioned last week, I've been looking for a mountain bike. I was seriously considering one off Craigslist, and I visited all my usual bike haunts looking for something new as well. I really wanted a Fuji to go with my road bike, but the local Fuji guy wouldn't come down enough on his 2010 Nevada with the features I wanted to make it work for me price wise. In the end, I wound up at the shop where we've bought both of Rachelle's bikes in order to take advantage of a 10% discount I got by being a member of the local public radio station. That's right, The Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, and a 10% discount at some local bike shops. Now that's what I call service.

My new mountain bike
The new bike is a 2011 Trek 3900 Disc. It's 3 steps up from their bottom of the line bike and I got it at a steal of a price. I made the decision to go with disc brakes because as a bigger guy if I wind up in mud, I want to know that I'm still going to have a good chance of stopping before I get into worse trouble. Plus they had this model in blue, which is my favorite color.

I got a chance to really ride it for the first time yesterday evening after we dropped Rach's parents off at the airport. The esplanade along the river doesn't offer any sort of climbing or real serious challenges, but it does have a couple good lines of single track due to runners and riders who want to avoid the multi-use path. I managed to get in about 7 miles of mostly flat riding learning to stay in the thin trail while taking the bumps from rocks and roots.

The biggest challenge at first will not to baby the bike. Being a big dude, I baby my road bike. Unlearning that behavior for the mountain bike is something that will take time. I'm trying to break myself of it by basically rolling over everything I see, even stuff I am probably not ready for, like big roots and such. I rode some sections of the trail multiple time to get the feel for going over rocky or rooty sections where I'm on the edge of losing control.

So far, I'm totally loving what it's like being on the mountain bike again. My first bike when I started riding again was a Trek 800 MTB, and I remember the feeling of being able to go almost anywhere with it because I wasn't worried about breaking it. Now that my bike has a front shock, that feeling is multiplied because while the MTB handles like a tank, it also rides like a tank; up and over anything in it's path.

Now that I've got the bike, I'm heading down today to the race course for Sundays race. I'm going to go out and ride part of it and decide if I should sign up or not (I'm pretty sure I'm going to sign up, it's really whether I should take on the 6 mile or 11 mile route). I want to make sure I'm not totally out of my mind and ability in taking this on so soon, and that I can get out of there in one piece without sacrificing my ability be successful for Club Nationals in just a few weeks.

I'm also sure that what I'll get out of this new adventure is worth the financial cost and nerves about taking to the trails. For one, I'm definitely learning better bike handling. Learning how to hold even a line of flat single track is a lot harder than just trying to ride in a straight line on the road. Then there's the climbing; spinning a 33 pound mountain bike up a dirt trail has to be harder than riding a nice light 18 pound road bike up a hill.

Finally, there's the tingle. There's risk around every corner on a mountain bike; rocks, roots, holes, descents, tight turns, etc. It's sort of like the feeling of going 47 MPH on the road bike, except you get the feeling of doing it throughout most of a ride. Some of that nervous fear will wear off over time, replaced with the confidence of having done it before. And the more time I spend on any bike, the better my fitness and the better my ability will get.

Spending time with this fork is better than time with a table fork
Finally, happy Labor Day. Especially to those of you who actually have to labor today at work.


  1. Mountain biking is a lot of fun. Used to do it a lot until it got a little too costly for me with broken bike parts. Which is still better than broken body parts:) Have fun and be safe!

  2. Wish I knew you were coming to Salem. That's where we live. Would have loved to have you meet my wife and son.

  3. Barb - I'm hopeful I won't go through too much. I have a few rear derailleurs sitting around so I have some pieces I might be able to get by on in case I break stuff. I doubt I'll be doing any heavy riding anytime soon, the race will be the hardest trails i'll likely be doing for a while.

    John - I would totally love to meet your family. Next time we get up that way we'll make sure you have advance notice/warning LOL