Mountain biking - not for the pain-prone

Before I write about mountain biking, I should tell you that the promised swimming-lesson post can be found on my training blog under Being 11 All Over Again.

On to Kettle! After two days of 2 1/2+ hour rides at Kettle, I'm beat - exhausted - spent - but all in a good way. And even better, M.Bro reminded me that I used to come home from mountain biking completely shattered - laying on the couch for hours afterward, mumbling semi-coherently about exposed roots and sharp rocks. So I'm better than I used to be. I'd probably be better off doing shorter rides, but Kettle Moraine state forest is a 50-minute drive, and I'd feel ridiculous spending more time behind the wheel than on my bike.

The trails weren't as busy as I expected - last Thursday was the first day they were officially open, but it may just be so early that a lot of people assumed they're still closed. Sunday's traffic was about twice Saturday's though, so maybe the word is getting out. A good deal of that traffic was made up of entry-level riders - who I'm not only glad to see on the trail because I like to see more people in the sport, but because they make me feel like a total stud. I was a little nervous for some of them though - witness the following overheard conversation:

Woman: "Are you sure I'm going to be OK with these tires?" (referring to the 1 1/2 slicks on her hybrid)

Man: "I don't know - I've never been on these trails before."

They had a lot of walking ahead of them, but I didn't have the heart to ruin their fun before they even started.

Sunday's ride also made me feel pretty confident about the 3-hour race on April 30. The race format is pretty simple - ride as many times around the orange loop as you can in 3 hours. There's a similar format, but different loops, for the 6-hour and 12-hour races. I checked last year's results, and the winner did 4 loops in 2:34 (ties are broken by the amount of time you completed the laps in)(I've e-mailed the race director to make sure last year's race was on the same course as this year's). I rode the orange loop three times - first slow for recon (29:55), second really pushing it (26:20) and third slow because I was tired (31:00). The technical sections, especially the rock-strewn climbs, really slow me down, but I have a good aerobic base and I can make up a lot of time on the less-technical fire roads. Under 1:30 for three laps would put me in a pretty good position to do well on the 30th - I just need to work on my upper body endurance for the last half of the race.

The question now is whether I stick with my plan to run the 5-mile Crazylegs Classic the morning of the 30th before I drive to Kettle - I'd like to do both, but would I be unneccessarily wearing myself out for a race that I could do well in?

Edited to add: Ack - I forgot to mention my bike! After fixing some shifting issues and brake drag (things tend to work less well on the trail than they do when they're not being banged around), I was nothing but pleased. It climbed like a goat, felt rock solid on the descents (even technical ones), and dove into corners. I may eventually upgrade to disc brakes for better modulation, but other than that, I have nothing but good things to say.

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