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What I did on my spring break.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

Entering the main loop at the Mt. Dora Trails

Entering the main loop at the Mt. Dora Trails

The primary reason for my 2012 cut was to get light and strong for mountain biking. With my cut over, I decided to take last week off from everything so I could ride as much as I wanted.

In addition to my very light scale weight, I was also excited about the significant modifications I’d made to my main trail bike. The stock Trek Fuel EX 8 is a fine bike, but she’s a whole new animal now. I was able to put a few miles on the upgraded bike towards the end of my cut, but spring projects on the weekends limited my trail time. Last week I was finally able to put in some quality trail time, and I really got to know my new steed…

I’d not been to the Mt. Dora trail system in many months, and I’d heard that significant improvements had been made since my last visit. The last time I rode Mt. Dora, the trail was not very fun. There was a lot of sugar sand on fast corners, and it just didn’t flow very well. Also, the poor signage had people running the trail the wrong direction and confused about where to go.

Mt. Dora Trail Map.

Mt. Dora Trail Map.

The Mt. Dora trail system is interesting. At just a couple of miles long it’s a short trail, but there is a lot of elevation change. When the trails first opened up some people complained that it was nothing more than a lung and leg workout, and not a whole lot of fun. That wasn’t far from the mark, but the trails have been improved quite a bit over the past year or so with some fun blue (intermediate) options.

As I mentioned above, the sugar sand on the fast corners ruined the flow, and so even with the improvements the trail system still wasn’t all it could be. Well, I was blown away by the changes when I rode there last week…

First of all, a lot of work had been done on corners: good dirt and clay had been brought in, and berms were built on most of the problem corners. With the bermed corners, the flow of the trail was drastically improved. I was finally able to carry speed through corners without washing out. Super fun!

The signage was also improved considerably. Clear wooden signs and carsonite markers showing riders exactly where they are on the trail and proper direction were finally in place.

There was also a new section of trail called “Gravity Destroyer”. This new section leads from the trailhead to the main trail system, and has a lot of elevation change and switchbacks. While I found myself wishing I could just bomb down the hill, the switchbacks were put in to make the trail sustainable. It was a cool semi-technical warm-up before hitting the main trail. This new section of trail is bi-directional, and so I also rode it back up to the trailhead at the end of my ride. Taking this section of trail back up should be called “Leg Destroyer”.

Now, I want to talk about the actual ride. First of all, this trail system really is a lung and leg burner. There is a lot of elevation change, and if you push the pace it’s a heck of a workout. In fact, I’ve never been able to do more than a single lap without resting for a few minutes. Well, when I rode there last week I did three straight laps without a break, and my slowest lap time was more than a full minute better than my previous personal best. Climbs that used to just kill me felt so much easier than before. It was pretty shocking. I, and my bike, just felt so light, strong and nimble. It was amazing. I had a smile plastered on my face the entire ride, no kidding.

After the first three laps I took a 5 minute break and then did two more laps, followed immediately by a trip back up “Gravity Destroyer”. What a workout!

New personal record on my 3 mile timed run at Wekiwa: 12m48s.

New personal record on my 3 mile timed run at Wekiwa: 12m48s.

I did a lot more riding last week, but I want to mention one more noteworthy accomplishment. As most of you know, I love to start off my rides at Wekiwa with a 3 mile timed ride. This is basically an all-out sprint over some hard pack, a little too much sugar sand, a few rooty sections and a bit of elevation change.

Before I rebuilt my Trek Fuel EX 8 my best time for that 3 mile section was 17m26s. After I’d done most of the upgrades to my Fuel (minus the new wheels and tires), I made the run in 15m42s. After the wheel and tire upgrades I did it in 13m42s…

Last week I destroyed my all-time best time by nearly a full minute, and I made the 3 mile ride in just 12m48s. No upgrades responsible for that record, that was all about me being in tune with my bike and the trail. I felt better than I’d ever felt before… everything just “clicked”.

In addition to putting a lot of miles on my bike, I also did quite a bit of yard work and spring chores around the house. It was a fun, productive and very active week. I had some work interruptions, but I was in such a good mood that those didn’t even bother me.

I’m going to eat and get a ride in before work. It’s a beautiful morning!

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