Yesterday, Kevin and I mountain biked on the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont. We rode for about 4 or 5 hours on nice winding hilly single track. As we drove into East Burke I was amazed at the number of mountain bikers in town. Parking lots were almost full and mountain bikers were getting ready to ride or already heading out onto the trails as we pulled in. I was nervous because I was sure I was the most inexperienced rider there and I didn't want all those more experienced riders to witness my feeble attempts at riding.
I felt anxious riding up the first steep hill onto the trails because we were so close to town and I felt like other riders might see how much of a novice I was. But once we got out a little way, I realized that there are so many miles of trail that riders are spread out and the trails aren't congested at all. Also, I saw that there were all levels of riders there and I wasn't the worse rider on the trails. Even if I was no one would care. So I relaxed and started having a lot of fun!
The trails Kevin took me on weren't very technical as far as rocks, roots, and other obstacles. They were nicely flowing narrow single track that challenged me with lots of tight turns, a few good climbs, some slightly scary downhills, and a few little obstacles that were completely do-able. Because I wasn't riding as slowly and carefully as I do on more technical stuff, I was able to get a good flowing rhythm in a lot of stretches and really get my heart rate up for a good workout.
There was one long narrow plank bridge that spanned some swampy looking water. Kevin was riding ahead and rode right over. There were riders stopped on both ends of the bridge, thinking it over. I just followed Kevin over the bridge, knowing that if I stop to think about things when I ride, I just get scared and then I can't do them. It wasn't until later in the day that Kevin said he was surprised that I rode over that. He told me the water there was up to his chest, which would put it up to my neck. Then I realized that if I had fallen in while clipped in to the pedals, it could have been pretty dangerous. Now I wonder if I'll have the courage to ride over that again next time we go back. Then again, I have been practicing riding over narrow planks on dry land, so I know I can do it. We'll see what happens next time we ride there.
I had a few close calls, but found I was able to get out of them by touching down with a foot or just riding through them. This is better than in the past where I would go down every time things got shaky. I think this improvement just has to do with having a little more confidence. I only really fell once. I was going down a little drop with some tricky rocks and I leaned way forward on the bike and when I came back, somehow the front of the bike seat went into the back pocket of my shorts. Talk about freak accidents! Anyway, I toppled off the side of the trail while I was struggling to get my ass unattached from the seat. I landed on my right side on a steep banking in a evergreen shrub of some sort, still attached to my bike by my rear end. It took me a LONG time to get off the bike and then out of the bush. The whole time I was thinking, "I hope no one comes down the trail and sees this and I hope Kevin doesn't come back looking for me." I was just getting back onto the trail when Kevin came riding back. Phew, no witnesses and no pride lost.
We had a nice lunch at "Heaven's Bench" which is a bench sitting in the middle of a hay field with nice views in all directions. Then did some more riding on the trails before going to the "pump track." I watched Kevin and some other riders ride the pump track and finally got up the courage to try it myself. The pump track is a small area of dirt trail over rolling humps of different sizes. The idea is to use your upper body and the momentum of the down, to carry you up the next hump. It is tricky, but I could feel how I was supposed to do it on some of the smaller humps. It was also very tiring for some reason.
It was a great day and a wonderful workout. I definitely felt it in my legs and I really did get some good cardio in. It is really nice to be exploring and enjoying a new outdoor activity. I'm loving this whole mountain biking thing!