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return to the trails after 3 years of road only(15 posts)

return to the trails after 3 years of road onlyDougSloan
Jul 7, 2003 7:31 AM
Bought the Specialized Stumpjumper on Thursday last week, and got in two trail rides.

The bike worked flawlessly, at least in light of it's pilot.

Friday morning did a relatively difficult but shorter singletrack ride on the San Joaquin River Trail near Millerton Lake (outside Fresno). I used to do this trail all the time in my mtb days, but of course haven't been on a mtb in 3 years.

I was amazed at how my fitness was fine. There are some really difficult climbs, far steeper than anything on the road, all while navigating rocks, tree limbs, and occasionally having to power through loose rock, gravel, and deep, loose dirt. I notice that my ability to keep spinning was much improved, and I could do it almost indefinitely. However, my handling skills nearly reverted to childhood days. I washed out the front tire few times in loose soil, and kept bouncing into and over rocks, while thinking "don't hit that rock -- don't hit that rock". Seems the more I thought about not hitting a rock, the more likely I was to slam right into it. Took lots of body English and tense muscles to get up and down the hills.

The one thing that really brought out the contrast between road and mtb riding was the concentration required on the trails. On the road, I can zone out for minutes at a time, with the bike almost on autopilot, unless in a fast paceline. On the trails, it seems it required absolute constant attention, and lack of it is very unforgiving, particularly on narrow, rough, singletrack. It's refreshing in a way, though, as you pretty much forget whatever else is going on in your life for a while.

Sunday several of us did the Shuteye Peak climb near Bass Lake. The peak is at 8300 feet, and you can start at 3300 feet at the Lake, or at one of several camp grounds on the way up a fire road, which turns into a very rough Jeep crawler road. We started at about 4500 feet, as we didn't have the time for an all day ride.

I managed to stay well ahead of one of the seasoned and dedicated mountain bikers, but well behind another 2 who do weekly trail rides but most of their training on the road. One is ranked 4th in the nation in Cat 4 crits.

When it got to the extremely rough jagged rock/loose gravel sections, I sucked. I could pick, follow, or maintain any decent line for the climbs. I'd fall off and then have to walk 20 yards to find a flatter section to get doing again. I'll note that these sections cause trouble for even expert class racers, though. At one point there was a 2 foot drop-off, and my front tire dropped, then came to a sudden stop. I endo'd and landed on my arm, but ok. I hate that.

Made it to the summit eventually and climbed the forest department lookout tower. Have some great views from there, being able to see 100 miles or so, including looking down on several lakes that are 50 miles apart, and seeing Mammoth mountain on the east side of the Sierra Nevade. Makes the trip worth while.

The descent was really ugly. I felt like a beginner trials (not trails) rider, trackstanding about every 100 feet for 7 miles, while the others disappeared from view in the first 60 seconds. Endo'd again several times, but hey, that's what mountain biking is about, isn't it?

The bike did fine. About all I need to change is beefier tires for the loose stuff, at least until I regain my trail legs.

Trail riding is a nice diversion after years of slogging it out on the road. Can't say I feel the same training effect, though. I have a feeling that road riding is a much better workout.

welcome back_rt_
Jul 7, 2003 7:39 AM
dirt is good. ;-)

btw, don't know if riding road is a "better" workout, just different. road works endurance & spinning, while mtn works anerobic power, bike handling, & (as you noted) concentration. combined you've got the perfect workout!

Good for you..... more....rory1
Jul 7, 2003 7:46 AM
I am a 41 YO MTBer who just got into road biking - and I did it primarily to improve my physical conditioning... Well, and to get a roadbike ... :-)

I have found that the two sports, although relatively 'the same' are rather different.

In a MTB, you have different issues to deal with, constantly, yet there is nothing like banging your bike around, and not really worrying about it much....

Anyway - both are great fun, yet very different, and you can get a good workout on the MTB, yet again different. Both definitely have their place.

Anyway on your tires, most MTBs come with some decent treads, yet not very specific to your area. I live in the Denver area, and there are rocky trails, mostly packed dirt and sand, and I use the Panaracer Fire XC PRO tires (kevlar bead).... You can get them most anywhere - and are decent tires. They *DO NOT* work well if you are in areas with sticky, gooey mud, they will pack with that type of mud pronto and you will hate life. There are other tires that shed mud better (sorry, I don't have to worry about that here ).... If it rains here, and you get muddy, it sheds off quickly because of the sandy content of the soils - but for going up loose rock, the panaracers stick great.

Some people like them, some hate them....

check out (a sister site to this one) for mountain bike ideas....

have fun!
Excellant! you can go over to MTBR and....asphalt assault
Jul 7, 2003 8:52 AM
Tell everyone how MTB is a great recovery tool from road and that road riding is a better workout:)...I'm not sure that road is a better workout, just different.
I think that's great!NatC
Jul 7, 2003 4:44 PM
Too funny!
re: Doug, What does your afternoons look like this week?Morgan
Jul 7, 2003 9:42 AM
Let try to get in a MTB ride after work. Was scheduled to to the shut eye ride but the inlaws are in town:( My wife would have kick me out of the bed for a month if I went. For all of those who are not familiar with Fresno. We have some of the best Mountain bike trails in the West. I would be happy to take anyone visiting this area out for a tour of some of the sweet single track that we have. Doug, Glad to hear you are back on the dirt, I am sure that the Specialized is a much improved bike compared to the Airborne you used to ride.

hey, MorganDougSloan
Jul 7, 2003 9:55 AM
I might be able to take off a little early and do Millerton, maybe to the gate and back once or twice. I don't care much for the trail out to the meadow or fence, but I'll go along with whatever.

Do you know of anyone who has made it up Shuteye non-stop, at least from the Little Shuteye lookout? I just can't imagine.

The Airborne was a fine bike. Ronnie Kier is still racing it, and kicking butt from what I hear. It had better components than the Stumpy, except for maybe the fork (the new Fox RLT80 is pretty nice).

You have my email, don't you?

Jul 7, 2003 10:36 AM
I doubt it.

I have a good Shuteye story from the old days, though, that tells how tough the climb is. I was on a group ride of about 12-15 guys back in 1983 or '84, and one of my companions broke his chain just before Little Shuteye. No chain tool in the bunch, but Glen was determined to make it to the top. He walked his bike the last mile and a half to the summit, and beat several others in our group. He then coasted his bike, without a chain, the whole 20 miles down the jeep trail & fireroad back to Bass Lake, only needing to dismount & walk a few short climbs or get a push on the seat from one of us to get thru a slow section.
they had mountain bikes back then?DougSloan
Jul 7, 2003 12:33 PM
Wow, that was a while ago, particularly for mountain biking. You know, walking up that last part to Shuteye isn't all that much slower than riding, anyway.

I recall that when I bought my Bianchi road bike from Rich (Cyclopath, now) back in 1980, he said, "Hey, these guys are doing this new thing call 'mountain biking' and racing up around Bass Lake. You ought to give it a try." I dismissed it as hippie weirdo stuff.

The wheels were made of stone, the frame was mammoth bonesStraightblock
Jul 7, 2003 1:39 PM
and that was the ride where I gave Gary Fisher the idea for inventing the mountain bike.

Actually my bike was a second generation Stumpjumper, not like the original Stumpjumper that supposedly sits in the Smithsonian. I bought it from Rich when he had his shop on Maroa & Shaw. It still has a place in my stable, now enjoying retirement as a singlespeed.
thanks for the remindermoschika
Jul 7, 2003 10:12 AM
i've been trying to remember the 'shut eye' ride for about a week but couldn't remember the name of the peak. thanks

some of those bass lake rides were the best. are people still doing the louise creek trail up around sugerpine? that was always fun to come down.
zen and the art of mountain biking:colker
Jul 7, 2003 11:26 AM
you ride what you think. the front wheel reads your mind. if you think "rock", it will hit it. so you think passing through the horrible chute and you will pass... very different than road riding. not only descending but climbing as well.more than concentration, your mind has to "be" only rocks, boulders, chutes. perfect mountain biking is floating on the trail. you don't muscle it. the bike disappears and you flow with the trail..
"floating" and the "flow"... Ah, so very true! -nmTig
Jul 8, 2003 6:24 AM
re: return to the trails after 3 years of road onlybrian n
Jul 7, 2003 12:30 PM

i'm sure you've heard (but maybe forgotten in 3 years) the best mtnbike tip of all time:

your bike intuitively goes where you look, so if you look at the big rocks you will hit them. i find its the same with thinking about the big rocks. best bet is to visualize the best line, and then only look at that route once you've decided.

i find the level of concentration in mtnbiking to be the same as that in a fast paced many cornered crit!

Road one of my old haunts last week...peter in NVA
Jul 7, 2003 12:45 PM
Mt Wilson Toll Road outside LA. 4500 vertical feet in 8 miles. Took 3.5 hours on my 21 lb Mtb bike. 13 years ago it took 2.5 hours on my 30 lb Specialized Rockhopper. Must be the tires! (Lost all my climbing here in Virginia)