Yesterday’s weather felt more like a beautiful fall day than a typical mid-May day. It was cool, the skies were clear blue and the humidity was very low. I took my bike over to Wekiwa forest for an intense (but fun!) morning of mountain biking. I wound up doing my longest 100% off-road mountain biking trip ever: 32.4 miles! I really felt like I could have continued for another 10 miles, but I had to get back for work.
The 32 miles were not lazy ones! I was pushing the pace very hard almost the entire time. I reached my maximum heart rate of 196 BPM in the exact same spot as I did a little over a week ago (details on that ride are in my May 10, 2011 blog). At the top of the hill (which I call “Sugar Sand Hill”) I stopped and took the photograph you see above. The entire uphill (which continues for about another 1/4 mile past the edge of the frame) is deep sugar sand lined with rocks, roots, branches and even logs. It’s one heck of a cardio challenge to make it to the top without stopping!
I love that I’m setting new personal records on a pretty regular basis. Doing more 32 miles on mountain bike trails like this is something that I couldn’t have possibly done a year ago–especially maintaining an average heart rate of 175-180 BPM for most of the ride. My cardio and stamina have never been better in my life, and my muscle endurance has allowed me to go for longer and longer rides.
I should point out that the terrain in the forest is quite varied. I ride over and through everything from hard-packed single track, sugar sand, giant roots, rocks, mud, logs and more. That’s one of the things I like best about Wekiwa, you simply can’t get bored out there because its so incredibly diverse.
For example, see the incredible root system in the picture below? Within 100 feet of those roots is a big river, and in the other direction are miles of single track through deep forest.
Speaking of roots, there are a huge number of them at Wekiwa, but those shown in this picture is the worst section I’ve personally seen. They are a serious challenge to get over on a bike, and the potential to go over the handlebars is pretty high. I’ve only made it all the way over this tangled mess twice without stopping or falling. There are only a couple of lines that will work, and you have to be moving fast and be very light on the bike. Timing has to be near-perfect.
Part of the trail that I ride out there is extremely remote, and it sees very little human traffic. Because of the lack of traffic there are spiderwebs built across much of the trail. I guess it’s my job to clear the trail of these webs. I have therefore named my bike The Web Sled.
I worked my legs on Tuesday, and so I was surprised that my legs didn’t feel more fatigued while I was riding. There was a point about 27 miles in that I stood up on the pedals to stretch and my right quad almost cramped up. Thankfully my legs muscles never locked… that would have hurt pretty darn bad.
You can find more pictures from yesterday’s ride (including a giant trapdoor spider) in this post to my photography journal.