I'd like to think that I was getting better at this mountain biking stuff but, as it turns out, I'd just be lying to myself if I thought that. If yesterday's effort is any indication I am actually getting worse. However, instead of accepting that harsh reality I'm going to blame my poor performance on the conditions and my nagging hunger; yeah, that's the ticket.
Last week I told you that it was muddy and that biking in the mud was pretty dumb. Well, I still hold that position after doing it again this week. I didn't really think the mud caused me a ton of problems last week but it definitely did this week. My tires were pretty clogged with mud so I don't think I had much traction in general and my feet continuously slipped off my pedals. The muddy tires and the lack of traction probably didn't cause me much trouble beyond what I would normally have but my feet slipping off was a pain in the ass (and in my left shin). On at least three occasions my left foot slipped off the pedal just as my right foot slipped and slammed the pedal around in a full circle ending in my shin. It hurt more than falling off the damn bike. So now I have some ugly gashes on my left shin. I think I can honestly say my future career as a leg model has been cut short.
We actually traversed the hill that sent me flying a couple weeks ago. However, I really wasn't feeling like I had my "A" game with me this week so rather than risk a repeat (especially with Sean at the bottom taking photos) I just walked my bike down this time. I did make it down a few hills that were a bit tougher than I normally do so I was happy with that and I was doing better getting up some of the steep hills so the day wasn't a total bust. However, aside from those small bright spots I had a bunch of dark ones. Nearly every rock that could reroute me did, nearly every fallen tree that could stop me did, and nearly every time I could fade off the path you could consider me faded. It was not pretty.
The brightest part of my day was actually the end result of a huge mistake. We were going down a semi-steep hill that did a semi-switchback to the left about 3/4 of the way down - right about when you have maximum speed really. I was cruising down trying to control my speed when I hit that turn and I just couldn't turn enough so I basically just went straight. Now, there is a reason the turn is there and that's because the next 20 feet of the hill, going straight, are very very steep. I cruised over the ridge, gripped my handle bars with a death grip, sat way back in my stance and got as low as I could over my back tire, and hoped for good luck. Now, since I told you this was a bright spot the drama is kind of lost becuase you already know I made it down the hill safely. Amazingly I didn't lose control hitting a hidden rock or fallen tree, I didn't fly over my handlebars, I didn't even tip over at the bottom when I would have relaxed thinking all was safe. I just slowed down, took a sharp left turn, and bunny hopped over and obstacle and got right back on the trail. I was amazed and disappointed that none of the others had the chance to witness my skills since they were well ahead of me.
I think I'll try to just focus on the positives and build on these small victories and try to forget about the pain in my shin and my shoulder. However, to help avoid the shin pain I'll probably start wearing my soccer shin guards. I'm already wearing the soccer socks so now I'll look the part of crazed Mt. Biker. Mark my words some time next year it will be fashionable to wear long songs while mt. biking.
Tomorrow I am going to try to align my rear wheel so I can avoid the $12 it costs to have the bike shop do it. After next payday I think I'm going to buy some new wheels and tires in a progressive step towards upgrading my brakes. Next month some time I'll probably buy new brakes and a support bar so my frame can handle the increased breaking power. I also want to start going out a little on the weekends, maybe at Ritter Park with my other coworker Jason so I can get a bit more practice in (and thus more comfort "in the saddle").