Experimental music, photography, and adventures

More rides!

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

I went for a ride on Thursday with Dave from work at Brown County State Park. This was a fantastic ride. It turns out, last time I rode there, I took the wrong way around the North Tower Loop. Of course, you can *get* around that way, but it’s a hell of a lot harder.

So, Dave and I went LEFT instead of right when we got to that loop, and it was a hell of a lot better. It was still tiring, of course, but the way it’s laid out, if you’re going clockwise around the loop, a lot of the climbs are easier, and a lot of times you get to go downhill before you go up in such a way that you can use your momentum to get over the next hill.

It was just an awesome ride. I learned a lot from Dave, and significantly improved my skills. Dave showed me some thins you can do with a suspension that I hadn’t figured out, and told me about some techniques you can use to make things smoother. One of the things he said was that I should look further ahead while I’m riding. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t looking far ahead, and sometimes I overanalyze what’s right in front of me. That simple tip made me instantly a better rider. I also learned some cool things about using my weight to steer and help my bike over things. It’s surprising what the front suspension will just go right over if you shift your weight back a bit.

I’m also getting better about using my front brake, and better at braking in general. Sometimes I’ll still skid a bit, but I am doing a pretty good job of braking now. The disc brakes help a lot.

Aside from all the stuff I learned, Thursday’s ride at Brown County was one of the best I’ve had so far this year. I’m starting to get to know my new bike, and sometimes I’ll get into a rhythm with it where everything just flows without having to think through every detail of the ride. Getting in the zone like that is a great feeling — when you can just react to things instinctively, know what’s coming and how to deal with it. These instances are still not common enough, but getting more common every time I ride.

Here’s the map and elevation profile from this ride:

Tonight, I went for a ride in the woods in my old neighborhood. I did the loop I’ve been doing lately, only this time, I did it in the reverse direction. This is, I think, a better way to go. Most of the climbing is first, and by the time you get to the last half mile or so, it’s pretty easy. It’s better for me, at least at this point, to get that over with before I get too tired.

I tried a couple of things I hadn’t really attempted before. When you go right at the first fork in the woods, you go down into a ravine. The trail there is pretty eroded, and has some roots and dropoffs. I hadn’t even attempted to ride it before. Today, I did — and I really didn’t even have that much trouble with it. I don’t think I could ride up it yet, but it’s cool to be able to do something I never thought I could. Going back up the other side of the ravine actually wasn’t that bad, either.

After that, it’s flat for a while, and eventually you go down a hill. It’s pretty gradual at first, but gets steeper and steeper. I did a great job of this and keeping my speed in check, especially since it had rained earlier today and it was a bit slick. That ends in a ravine and going up the other side was, well, not going to happen. I ended up walking a ways.

However, I completed the loop and had a good time doing it. I also went down this path toward the creek, which again is pretty eroded and has some logs you have to get over, and lots of roots and rocks and other obstacles. I actually didn’t think it would be possible to bike down it the first time I saw its condition after I moved back here. I used to ride it all the time, but it is in pretty bad condition now. I decided to give that section a shot, too, which includes another ravine, and I did pretty well! I stopped toward the steepest part so I could look down and plan my attack — my plan worked great. This is another part I can’t make it up yet, but it’s something to work toward.

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