I’m finally back in the saddle, and it feels great!
I didn’t do any (like, zero) mountain biking at all while I was taking a few weeks off, and last week I was too sore from my weight training workouts to hit the trails. So yesterday was the first mountain biking I’ve done in about a month… that’s way too long of a break!
When I woke up yesterday the temperature was in the low 40s (F), and I wasn’t sure if I was going to go mountain biking or do an indoor cardio session. As the sun came up the temperature rose into the mid-50s, and the skies were clear and blue. The weather made my decision a no-brainer.
I decided to head over to Wekiwa. Of course I took my DSLR camera along (Canon EOS 60D outfitted with the Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM IF lens), figuring the extra weight would only give me a better workout. I stopped to take a few pictures (which you’ll see scattered through this blog), but the main order of business was intense cardio. With an average moving heart rate of 179 BPM over 22.3 miles, I definitely accomplished that goal.
Quick tip: I know quite a few JSF members and visitors are using the same heart rate monitor that I am (the excellent Timex Ironman). Did you know that if you’re interested in obtaining your average moving heart rate, it’s pretty easy with this HR monitor? When you stop for a break simply hit the “Mode” button until you’re in Chrono mode, then hit the “Stop” button. This will stop the Ironman, but not erase your stats to that point. When you’re done with your break, just flip back over to Chrono mode and hit the “Start” button. The watch will pick up right where you left off. I find this functionality very useful, as I am only interested in my average moving heart rate, and not my average heart rate over the entire ride with breaks included. Just don’t forget to re-start the watch when you resume your workout!
It’s very dry right now, and the possibility for wildfires is a real danger. I wasn’t surprised to see that since the last time I was out at Wekiwa they’ve done a lot of controlled burns out there. Thankfully they were not in the process of doing any yesterday morning, as the smoke really affects my ability to breathe.
If you’re not familiar with controlled burns, they are fires that are deliberately started and then carefully controlled by professionals. The reason for these burns is mainly to reduce the amount of fuel available to wildfires, but there are several other benefits as well.
As you can see in the “Bike on a Trail” photograph and the photograph of the buck (both above), the controlled burn areas are quite stark and absent of vegetation. I was, therefore, surprised to see two bucks attempting to graze in the middle of a large burned section of forest. As you can see in the picture, there wasn’t anything even remotely green or edible.
There were not many people at the park yesterday, and I didn’t see anyone running on the trails. I decided to sneak down one of the hiking only trails because it’s the only way to reach Prevatt Lake. It’s been ages since I’d seen the lake, and I was really interested in seeing how it was doing.
The water level of the lake was lower than it was during the rainy season, but far from dangerously low. I saw all the usual suspects (Egrets, Heron, Anhingas) hanging around, but there were several birds in the water I’d never seen at Prevatt Lake before: Wood Storks! The Wood Stork population in Florida is very small and endangered, so this was a rare treat indeed.
Wood Storks are an interesting bird. They have beautiful white and black plumage, and they look absolutely stunning while in flight. Their heads and necks, by comparison, are rough, black, featherless and, well…. not too attractive.
It’s always cool to see a new species while I’m out riding. I’ve been mountain biking at Wekiwa well in excess of 100 times over the course of more than a year, and it seems like there’s still always something new to discover there. As a nature lover, I feel extremely fortunate to have such an incredible natural resource so close to my home.
Towards the end of my ride I usually take a trip around another lake at Wekiwa, Sand Lake. This lake is not too far from the trailhead, and a really nice place to catch my breath after an exhausting ride. Yesterday the surface of the lake was calmer than I’d ever seen it before. The only movement on the lake came from a few lazy Yellow-Bellied slider turtles on a log; they were stretching their necks as high into the air as they could, eagerly soaking up the Florida sunshine.
As you can see in the photograph here, the surface of the lake was so calm that it looked like a piece of glass. I sat on a park bench for five minutes or so and I didn’t see so much as the smallest ripple in the water. It was very relaxing.
Overall it was one heck of a good ride. My legs felt surprisingly strong (they were still a little sore from Monday’s leg workout, but not too bad), my cardio felt solid and I had plenty of energy. The worst part of the ride is that by the end I was pretty saddle sore. After about a month of no riding, I expected the saddle to hurt a little bit. The saddle soreness will quickly be a non-issue now that I’ll be mountain biking several times per week again (the body quickly adapts to the “abuse”).
OK, today is my back, biceps and abs workout! I’m really in the mood to train, and I’m especially looking forward to this workout because I’m going to be roasting my abs with my new Ab Wheel (see yesterday’s blog).
Before I sign off, I wanted to let you know about a pretty sweet contest that Quest is running. They are giving away all kinds of prizes, but the Grand Prize is free Quest bars for a whole year! Don’t miss this excellent opportunity. Check out the details here.