Friday, November 21, 2008

Sidetracked

Date: Nov. 20 and 21
Mileage: 22.7 and 56.4
November mileage: 605.6

I had a five-hour ride planned for today, the beginning of my weekly "long ride" series in which I ride an hour longer each time and eventually start adding extra days. Five hours is always the first of the focused efforts. I planned a hard, steady ride out the road. The goal was a steady tempo pace with no breaks, but I stopped at the Mendenhall Visitor Center to use the bathroom and got completely sidetracked by the beautiful state of the Valley trails.

An inch or two of fresh snow had been hardened in the just-below-freezing air to a dense crust, nicely grippy and fast. I wound through the forest surrounding the Dredge Lake area and then hit up the tight singletrack near Montana Creek. For someone of my skill level, mountain biking is by necessity less effort than riding on the road. I often have to stop to walk around rock gardens or up an icy hill after spinning out. There's enough stop and go, hesitating over a tough obstacle at 4 mph and coasting down hills that it really is not quite as strenuous of a workout. But my technical skills continue to improve encouragingly, and you can't beat the fun factor.

Not that the road riding wasn't fun and gorgeous as well. I had a really good day today. It's true the ride itself was really no longer than those I've taken on recent weekends. I'm starting out slow by design, but I have to say, I can't wait until it's time to crank out some 8 and 10 and 12-hour days, coasting through the eerie darkness, listening to the crackle of my studs on fresh ice.