I finally got the courage to head for a true mountain bike ride today. I called up the local state park and asked if the trails were cleared to get a bike through. I was told the trails were great and come on down. I lugged my bike onto the rack and headed out. I probably shouldn't have gone out by myself, but winter is coming and I wanted at least one attempt at using my bike.
Lady at the front office gives me a map and tells me to use the number 7 trail as it was easy. I head out, find the trail parking lot and unload my bike. I grab my stuff and helmet and start my first ever adventure. I'm doing pretty good getting up/down the first couple of hills and then come across this monstrosity:
Right lady. The trail is cleared for bikes. For what? Monster size bikes like the monster trucks on TV? Obviously you haven't been out on the this particular trail anytime soon.
I pick up my bike and haul it around the tree. I go a little further down the trail and nearly slide all the way down the hill via the leaves in the rut. Brakes are NOT helping and I'm praying I don't fall off onto the left side since there's a steep drop-off.
Number 7 trail is EASY? Lady, who hired you?
I slide down the hill and walk up the next hill. There is no shame in walking if no one is around. I start down and realize there's ANOTHER tree about 3/4 of the way down. It's not as big as this one, but it's there. I slow down best I can and haul the bike around this tree.
I spent more time hauling my purple 29er over trees than I actually did riding it.
Now that I have 1.5 hours of experience mountain biking I've learned these things:
1. I need a small backpack that isn't labeled specifically for cycling since those cost 150 bucks to put crap in.
2. Wool socks are awesome and my waterproof/windproof tights under my jeans worked amazingly. I really wish they made mountain bike style pants for fall weather. Jeans are unfcomfortable, but if I fell off I'd have some protection.
3. The windproof goofy looking beanie hat works great for your ears, lets you put your hair back and fits under my helmet.
4. Disc brakes ROCK. If you are looking for a mountain bike get them. You can slide through mud and other debris much better than if you have rim brakes.
5. Love my armwarmers. I can fit them under my sweater and if it gets too hot, I can take them off.
6. I'm not nearly as bad at this than I thought I would be thanks to reading several books. I won't be doing anything fancy soon, but I never crashed.
7. Always look where you want to go, not where your bike goes. That advice saved me several times while going down some steep hills.
8. 29ers rock at going up hills, not so much going down since they aren't as agile as 26ers. That will take some practice.
9. I need to figure out how to work my shocks, or I may be too heavy for the WSD bike shocks. I kept tweaking it, but it was still too much.
10. Take a friend. It's no fun going alone and not having anyone to share the adventure is a shame.
I could really use some more mechanic skills as my brakes were causing problems on the way up the road back to the car. LBS fixed it after about 5 minutes and there was no way I could have done it by myself. Make sure your bike is in perfect condition before leaving.
Oh..the nice part? There was a hunter walking up the road with his crossbow and he was smoking hot. Very nice view of nature at it's finest.