I finally got to hit the trails yesterday. After reading on Friday on the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association forums that the Brown County trails were in pretty good shape, I planned to ride on Saturday.
The entrance to the parking lot connector was extremely muddy, but after that, it was pretty good except for a few spots. But it’s amazing how much my fitness has declined in the last month or so, since I’ve done very little riding. The biggest problem is my breathing — I had hoped that the fact that I quit smoking over 3 months ago now would outweigh the fact that I haven’t gotten enough exercise in the past month, but it didn’t. I had to stop at least once every mile to catch my breath. I also noticed that I had trouble keeping enough momentum to make it over some of the smaller hills — which are easy with enough momentum, but can be pretty hard if you’re going too slow.
I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one struggling out there. I saw a lot of other people who were having trouble, too, although my breathing is the worst. There was even group walking because one guy had hurt himself. I’m not sure what happened, but he had his arm in an improvised sling.
I had enough trouble that I was pretty tired after the North Tower Loop, and I debated whether to ride the Aynes Loop. I decided to go for it. The climb was even harder than usual — in fact, I think I had to stop more times to catch my breath than I did the first time I rode it. But I made it, and the descent was the best part of my whole ride. I was really riding smoothly during it and got in a good rhythm. The trail was in pretty good shape, except for a couple of switchbacks that were really mud pits. One of them was right on the edge and very muddy, so it was pretty scary. But I just kept on riding and I was fine.
Overall, the ratio of work to fun was tipped a bit in the work direction, but it was still a great ride — especially the Aynes descent. And I’m really glad I got to go — it’s been raining today, and it’s supposed to rain more tomorrow. I probably won’t get to ride again for a while.