Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recent Trail Riding

So I haven't been racing a whole lot lately, but I've been riding here and there. Where to start.... this past Sunday Cale and I went out to Kettle Moraine for some riding (after eating at the La Grange General Store-mmmm). We started out somewhere around noon and did The Full Monty, which was about a 27 mile ride (it gets longer every time we tell it). They've been working on some of the trails out there, tidying them up after the winter. There are only a few places where you have to get off and walk your bike over downed trees. While we were out there, I practiced bunny hopping and attacking the climbs. The climbs were a lot of fun but wore me down toward the end of the ride. And let's just say I need some more practice bunny hopping. We got in sometime around 4 or 5 to find that some delinquent had vandalized the car while we were out, writing 'RUSSELL' on the windshield with a muddy finger. It was a great day riding, and when we got back to Milwaukee we worked on the overgrown backyard. We mowed, raked, dug and planted until were just about done for. It was a long day and we got a lot done- it was pretty satisfying. (Pictures 1-4)

Last night Cale, Gunnar and I went back out to Kettle Moraine after work and rode for a good three hours. It was a great night for a ride, and the trail conditions were pretty nice. I'm still not too comfortable with cornering at high speeds, but one of these days I'll learn to trust my tires to not skid out. It doesn't help that I'm always applying the brakes a little in the turns. I'd consider cornering one of my weakest points, though, and it's my goal to get better at it during the season.

Last week I went out a couple of times on the Milwaukee River Trails with some of the guys. The trails were less than ideal, but we were pretty desperate for some offroad adventure. They were ridable, but generally wet and in some places flooded out and/or blocked by fallen trees. The first time we went out was the first time that I had gotten to test out my new ride, too. This year I'm switching to gears and front suspension. Well, maybe I'll devote a different entry to introduce the new bike.

The last of my recent activities was the H8TR 100 in Madison, the weekend before last. (Pictures 5, 6. Photo 5 snagged from Russell) It was... ugh. Now that I start thinking about it, I realize I tend to blur out most of the details. It was traumatizing! It had rained a few days before and the dirt and crushed limestone trails we rode on were wet and soft. It was overcast and chilly, and there was a terrible bit of headwind on the way back. I pushed it a little harder than I ever have for longer than I ever have. It was painful, but really good training. It was good to learn just how hard I could push it, and how long I could last at an uncomfortable pace. I didn't think I could last as long as I did, so it was cool to find out that I could keep going, and to know how long I could go before crashing. On the lighter side, through a complicated system of trading prizes, I obtained the best hat ever.

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