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Lengthy blog (with pictures) of my fun mountain biking weekend!

Monday, September 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

September
12
2011
Technical problems prevented my usual Bike on a Trail shot, so here's a Bike After the Trails photo. :)

Technical problems prevented my usual Bike on a Trail shot, so here's a Bike After the Trails photo. 🙂

What a fun weekend of mountain biking!

I kicked things off on Saturday with a relatively short (around 20 miles) but very fast blast through Wekiwa Forest. There’s been a lot of rain out there lately, and the trails were wet and muddy in places. The wet roots are always a fun challenge, but apart from that the trails at Wekiwa always run faster when they are damp. The reason the trails are faster when wet is because the rain sort of packs the sugar sand down, making it much easier to get through. I reached my first rest stop in a record-breaking 26m23s, shattering my old personal best of 28 minutes. On my old Trek 4300 hardtail it always took me about 44-45 minutes to reach this same spot. My new bike, the Trek Fuel EX 8, is lighter than the 4300 and the clipless pedals that I’m using now (I had platform pedals on my 4300) make a huge difference. The clipless pedals allow me to generate so much more power than I could using platforms, especially going uphill.

If you’re not familiar with the various types of pedals on bikes, check out my August 2, 2011 blog. Also, if you click that link you’ll notice that I reached this same rest stop in 33 minutes on my very first clipless ride, and so I’ve continued to improve my spinning efficiency/power since then.

Driving to the trailhead on a foggy morning.

Driving to the trailhead on a foggy morning.

Like I said, it was a really wet morning on Saturday; also, despite being somewhat cooler than it has been of late, it was very humid and I was sweating heavily. I stopped to replenish with some Sport Beans, and I saw the sun shining through most amazing spider web. I knew the web would make a fantastic photograph, so I pulled my camera from the Cotton Carrier and turned it on. When I turned the camera on the LCD display was blank and the camera started firing off shots non-stop. I tried to turn the camera off, but it didn’t comply. Eventually I had to pull the battery out to turn it off. Basically what happened was all the water from the plants I was crashing though along with the sweat pouring off of me got into the camera through the spaces around the various buttons and dials. This was not a cheap camera, so needless to say I was concerned that I’d really screwed it up. 🙁

I grabbed this shot from my truck doing about 40 MPH. That's the Wekiwa Forest on the other side of the fence, and there's a trail there that I ride every time I'm there. It's about 10-12 miles from the trailhead.

I grabbed this shot from my truck doing about 40 MPH. That's the Wekiwa Forest on the other side of the fence, and there's a trail there that I ride every time I'm there. It's about 10-12 miles from the trailhead.

I was really disappointed that the camera was malfunctioning because I missed some great shots. Thankfully once I got home I was able to nurse my 60D back to health with some rubbing alcohol and compressed air. Whew. I started doing some research on products that might prevent water and sand (which has created some similar issues in the past) from entering the camera. I came across the Delkin Snug-it Pro Skin for the Canon 60D DSLR. This skin looks like it will do a good job of keeping moisture and sand from entering the camera around the buttons. I hope so, because putting a full rain shield or similar around the camera would pretty much defeat the purpose of the Cotton Carrier, which allows me to go from riding to shooting in just a second or two.

I took a fall or two or three at Mt. Dora. The worst bruising is on my right glute. I'll spare you the picture.

I took a fall or two or three at Mt. Dora. The worst bruising is on my right glute. I'll spare you the picture.

Yesterday I decided to head over to the trails in Mt. Dora for a more technical ride. These trails are more challenging (skill-wise) than the trails at Wekiwa, but not as difficult as the trails at Soldiers Creek. Also, there are some serious climbs at Mt. Dora, and it’s a monster cardio workout. It’s been a while since I’ve been out to this trail, and they’ve added some cool new blue (intermediate) and red (advanced) sections. I rode everything but the 22 foot (and nearly vertical) ladder drop. Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to ride at Mt. Dora clipped in before I try riding clipped in over at Soliders.

I never take my DSLR on trails like these, but I did take my GoPro HD camera. There are some somewhat technical areas on this trail (fast turns, several very tight squeezes between trees, tricky roots across the trail at the top of steep hills and so on) but these things are better appreciated in real life; in other words, the video footage is pretty boring so I didn’t bother posting it.

I never fell as a result of being clipped in, and I was able to unclip when I needed to. I resisted the urge to unclip as I approached some of the more challenging areas, and being clipped in as I rode through those sections felt a little strange. Yesterday was a good learning experience and a nice clipless stepping stone for me. I’m going to hit up some of my old friends that I rode with at Soldiers Creek last year. These guys have access to a fairly well-kept secret trail (it’s on private land and not many people know about it) that has some pretty serious jumps and drops of various sizes. I think it’s time that I start learning how to fly. 🙂

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