I've been saying all along that once Oil Creek was over I was going to take a few months of NO training,just biking, running, and hiking for fun alone!There hasn't been a lot of actual rest so far, but I am having a lot of fun and feeling pretty relaxed.
This morning I did a short run on trails,then went out again a little later in the morning on the same trails with the mountain bike. These are local trails that Kevin and I have been working on. We just finished benching a steep slope above the river yesterday. Well,Kevin did most of the actual hard labor, but I did what I could considering my arms were still very sore and tired from lugging lumber Saturday at Bear Brook.
Running over the new bench was great. I used to have to carefully walk through this stretch while clinging to the slope with my toes. Now it is completely runnable! Biking it was a little too scary for me. The drop off to the river is very steep and I could imagine myself loosing my line, riding out onto the soft edge of the bench, and careening down into the river. So I believe I will continue to walk the bike over the stretch with the steepest drop off. At least with the new bench work, the bike can be rolled along, we used to have to carry the bikes through this stretch.
The other recently improved trail, Pollywog Pond,was great riding. I have already run on this trail a few times since we cleaned it out, but today was my first time riding on it. It has an abundance of tight curves that are a lot of fun to run through and take a lot of concentration and rhythm to ride through. There is only one curve that is just too tight to ride without putting my foot down. We might have to fix that one.
I have to admit that fooling around on the mountain bike has given me a whole new awareness of the work that goes into building and maintaining trails. As runners, we can get through almost anything. There are times that we'll say that a trail isn't runnable because it is so eroded, wet, or covered with blow downs and debris. Usually I either walk over these stretches or avoid those trails all together. On occasion, usually when asked by someone,I will participate in a trail maintenance day. But really, most of the time while running I don't give trail conditions a lot of thought.
Mountain biking makes me much more aware of the condition of the trails. Biking trails that are smooth and flowing is a lot more fun than hopping on and off the bike, lifting it over things, and slipping and sliding on loose washed out areas. The thing is, by improving the trails for mountain biking, they become so much better for running! So I am reaping the benefits of my efforts both on the bike and in my trail shoes!