This really should be called Mountain Bike Monday because that is what it is.
Does it seem to anyone else like mountain biking is taking over my life if not my bank account? Wait, it is taking over my bank account. New Trek bike that I already have replaced in my mind with a full suspension 29er, $8.00 on tubes x 4 two of which I have already gone through thanks to emergencies this weekend at LBH for another rider and one for me later, $20 on multi purpose tool, $?? on mini pump, $25 on saddle pack. An endless list of stuff I need/want including shoes, shorts, LED headlights, a bike GPS, a better fitting helmet, a good riding partner who looks like Bradley Cooper would be nice too but one can't have everything, I suppose. Every time I ride LBH it costs me a tube so an endless supply of those would work. Thank God I have Slime tubes. At least they leak slow enough I can get the bike home before they go flat. Actually, I think the tube resealed itself once I found the thorn and removed it. Little bugger. I just already had it off my bike by that time. (Just a note, learn to change a tube if you are going to ride. Last weekend I got an lesson on the trail the hardway on this from another rider. Ted was nice enough to give me his spare tube and teach me how to check my tire for offending objects and replace my tube. He also got me out of RLP when I wasn't sure which direction to go.)
Saturday morning I went out to River Legacy Park (RLP) in Arlington which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places. Honesty, between the Rangers and this park I think it is clear I need to live closer. I should find a way to make this happen! I was out there for a beginers training class with DORBA (Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association). I have to say, I met the nicest people. Really! There was another lady named Laura. Reminded me a lot of myself. Hates bridges, rode the EKG out at River Legacy her second time through (I rode it my first) inspite of the warning expert rider signs. (Which we learned were a little misleading because it is a public park. Not really expert level stuff there. I could have guessed that since I only really struggled with one hill and that was a climb. I suck at climbing.) Our instructors were the nicest guys. Glen, part of the North Texas Mountain Bike Patrol (They help people with minor breakdowns & injuries) and a River Legacy River Rat (a group of riders that ride that trail all the time and work at keeping the trail clean) took us on our tour. I went with the intermediate group. I hung tough thank you very much. We did the full tour just knocking off a couple minor extensions at the end. I think Glen said we cut off maybe a mile. Guys are funny. Glen was very encouraging. Told me several times trust myself or my bike. At one point he turned to me and said very genuinely "you are doing really well". That was nice. I think it was just because I wasn't being too female about stuff. What wasn't cool was the 20 something boys who clearly did not need to be in the class. They wanted to play, jump, and not learn and this was a large class not conducive to racing and having people right on your tail in the event of emergencies or if the rider infront of you, say a shy teenage girl, for example, was struggling with a climb and the idiot behind you was riding your tail. (Is this really motivating anyone to mountain bike yet?) At any rate. Glen was nice enough to stay after and assure me that my biggest current worry, my tires, were good. My bike came with a racing tire. They were ment to go fast which means I lose a little in the way of traction on climbs but he said I just need to keep practicing. I was concerned because in my turns I lose traction sometimes in the back tire. He said that I need the front tire in turns not the back and to stop worrying so much. (Glen clearly doesn't know me! I am a worrier by nature!) He said people have favorite tires and they get used to them but the tire I have is just fine to learn on and build my skill. That's what I need to concentrate on now. I like that. He talked straight to me. The guys were great. They were incredibly encouraging, especially to the women in the group. Spent a good amount of time specifically encouraging women to stay involved. I don't remember the other instructors names but they were all helpful. I love the fact they watched us take the climbs and gave us pointers. Mostly that I was going up in the wrong gear. I am sure that is something that just comes with time and skill. Watching some of the guys out there takes your breath away. There are a couple of those hills I just don't see me ever trying. I have no desire to be airborne on a bike. I also have no desire to face plant off of mine but I have already done that once so you know, stuff happens. The best thing I learned in the class was the 10 yard rule. Keep your gaze 10 yards ahead when riding. This is extremely important when going through tree gates. It is scary how close some of those trees are. If you look at the tree, you will hit it. River Legacy and LB Houston both have some tight tree gates so this was some really useful advice.
In the afternoon Khrystal and I went over to LB Houston in Irving to meet up with the Wheel Women. (I am in that picture somewhere). The DORBA ladies who are doing an 8 week park tour starting this weekend. That's right, we rode two parks in one day because we are crazy. Actually, it wasn't bad. It was just a little under the distance of riding Northshore and I learned a lot. First, my pack does not hold anywhere near enough water. I ran out both times. Now, to be fair, neither ride was straight. These were group rides. One was a very long and delayed training ride. One had a tire emergency. Both had several stops. That being said, you never know why you have to stop on a trail. I keep learning this lesson. More water is going to be needed for Northshore which I will be riding next month.
LB Houston (LBH) and RLP are similar trails in some ways. They have lots of flat, winding areas and both trails are very pretty. The skills area at RLP is better. They were planning a reno on LBH's Skills area but there are some circumstances there that are challenging that right now. It is a nice park. Lot's of flats, switchbacks, and some dips. The women of DORBA, the Wheel Women, what can I say? First, Jennifer our group leader who got 'stuck' leading the beginners, you rock! I am just so grateful I finally know where the trail picks back up across the street so I no longer have to ride back on the road! Second, to my roadie friend, (I wish I had gotten your name) who gave me the advice of shopping for the full suspension 29er after the holidays when all the bike stores get sell backs from the Plano folks. I love you! That is genius! The ladies were so much fun and the bravest bunch of beginners ever. Nobody chickened out of anything except me. My legs were jello by the time we got to the climbs at the end of the trail and I only did one of the two. Hey, I was in hour 5 on a bike and hour 7 of being out in a park. That is a little beyond my norm. Give a girl a break. I also didn't plan well. I need to take some Goo (YUCK) or Gummies (Slightly better), Powerade, & more water!
The best part of this is I learned a lot, had a great time, and was utterly exhausted to my bones. I think I fell asleep by 9:30 on a Saturday night. I'm not that old but I was tired. It was a good tired.
Lately, life has been a struggle. Some emotional. (Not all, some junk too but I am dealing). The biggest struggles are always in my head. No problem is ever as bad as it seems at the moment. The best part about the trail is the climb, the dip, the switchback, whatever the obstacle it is just exactly the size it seems. It is as hard as it is and no harder. It can be overcome with skill, determination, and time. Northshore kicked my butt the first time because I was completely unprepared. I didn't leave myself enough time. I didn't bring enough water. I rode on an empty stomach. I rode alone. I had never ridden a dirt trail and I started with one that is basically 18 miles. Start small and work your way up.Never be afraid to walk. Be prepared for a flat. Always, Always have water. Looking back, nothing I encountered at Northshore was anything I couldn't handle today. By the time I ride next month I intend to conquer that trail and put it behind me.
Northshore doesn't worry me anymore...now Boulder which we ride sometime in October....Boulder scares the crap out of me!
You don't have to mountain bike (although honestly how can you not want to?) But find something you love and do it. I started this adventure 3 years ago when I was training for the half marathon. One of my trainers told me about DORBA back at that time. He told me about Northshore too. I got hurt running and it slipped my mind until I got lost on Northshore and a friend of mine who rides mentioned to me (while he was telling me I was dumb for going out on Northshore, I think) that DORBA has free classes.
Check out Meet-Up groups too if you are looking for free activities. I see a lot of free exercise classes on there.
Okay, that's it. I will try not to go Mountain Bike crazy in too many blogs. The Rangers playoffs will take blog space soon. To prepare you I will end with some photos from Thursday night at Dr. Pepper Park in Frisco where the Frisco Rough Riders were playing the Corpus Christi Hooks in AA playoffs.
This is the Home Plate entrance to Dr. Pepper Park
Duece the mascot. He is a prairie dog but Rachel thinks he is a Chupacabra.
I like this picture. It is our required Ballpark pose. Rachel and Me of course.
Riders won in walkoff fashion!
It is finally cooling off in Texas. Hope it lasts. Happy Monday!!