I had two wonderful days on the trails this weekend. Saturday I rode and ran on the FOMBA (Friends of Massabesic Bike Association) trails in Manchester, New Hampshire with Kevin. Kevin designed and built several of these trails and worked on maintaining many of them. He has ridden all of them hundreds of times. He knows them like the back of his hand. This was nice for me because he could help me prepare for things before we actually got to them. For instance, he would call back "There's a little log hop ahead but you can get over easy," or "Get up some speed here because you have a steep little climb just around this corner," or "up ahead we ride over a stone wall to get to the next trail" (which was my cue to get off the bike and walk it!)
These trails were built specifically for mountain biking, which means you start at one end, twist, turn, curve, climb, and descend, over and over again for what seems like miles, only to come back out 20 feet down the fire road from where you started. With mountain bike trails, there is no destination and it's not about covering distance, it's about experiencing the trail. Two feats of accomplishment for me at FOMBA were doing the rock jump a few times and riding down the log roll. These things seemed impossible to me when we were there a few months ago.
We rode almost all of the trails that were within my ability range. This left two more difficult ones, Fireline and The Long Trail. We detoured back to the parking lot where we stowed my bike and gear, and I changed into running shoes. Then Kevin biked and I ran those two trails. Fireline was awesome for running, requiring a lot of leg strength to get up hills and over rocks and around curves and in and out of little dips, all after already riding the bike for a few hours. I loved it! Next was Long Trail. By then my quads were begging for mercy. But I enjoyed the Long Trail even more. I think it was the more difficult of the two, and I would have had to walk some stretches of this one if I had ridden the bike instead of running. After several weeks of easy recovery running, it felt great to have that familiar fatigued and quivering quads feeling! I ran hard for about six miles total. When we got back to the fire road Kevin asked how I wanted to run back to the parking area and I said without any hesitation, "which ever way is shortest!" Wow, what a leg workout!
Sunday we rode in North Conway. We are still learning those mountain bike trails. There is a map, but it is entirely different from what is actually out there. I'll post more about this area at some point. I'm sure we will be riding them a lot in the future because they are so close and because they are so fun! Some stretches require perhaps a bit more skill than I currently have on the bike, but if I'm going to continue to improve I have to go beyond my comfort level a little. On Sunday I was tired from the day before, which made me clumsy on the bike. But I survived the experience with only one new bruise and no blood at all.
Today will be a trail run day and I'm already dressed and ready to head out. I am loving Autumn in the woods in New England. Life doesn't get any better!