Yesterday I went mountain biking and did something I’ve not done in a long, long time: I went slow.
I mentioned in one of last week’s blogs that Lisa expressed some interest in doing a little mountain biking with me. It’s been so long since Lisa has wanted to ride that I was surprised, but pleasantly so. So yesterday morning when we woke up I said, “I’ve got your bike all tuned up. Are you still in the mood to ride?”
Then, before she could even answer, I threw in some added incentive. “If we don’t go ride we should get the weeding done in the gardens around the pond.”
“No, lets go mountain biking!”
I asked Lisa if an eight or nine mile ride would be too much, and she said as long as she could go at her pace she thought that would be fine. I decided to take my DSLR, and figured I’d just enjoy a nice relaxing ride for a change.
The first challenge was transporting the bikes to the trailhead. I hadn’t even considered that I don’t have a bike rack for my truck. I usually just toss my bike in the bed of the truck and close the hard tonneau cover. That works great, but there’s not enough room back there for two bikes laying on their sides. Thankfully the F150’s supercab is so roomy Lisa’s bike fit just fine in the back of the cab.
I seriously don’t know how I lived without a truck for so long. I find myself constantly thinking, “Man, I sure am glad I have this truck!”
It’s been a long time since Lisa’s been on her bike, and at first she struggled a bit with remembering basic controls. I noticed she was really mashing on the pedals while going through some mild sugar sand, and I saw she was in way too hard of a gear. I put her on the small chain ring and got her comfortable using the right shifter. As we rode along I saw her make a couple of hard stops; she said she kept accidentally hitting the break instead of the shifter. Thankfully after a short while she was feeling much more comfortable with the controls.
A few miles into the ride Lisa said, “I wish I’d eaten breakfast.”
You guys know how much I go on about the importance of breakfast, and I couldn’t believe my own wife set off on a mountain biking adventure with no fuel in her tank. I stopped right there and gave her a protein bar.
As the ride wore on poor Lisa really started to struggle, especially in the sand and in the more rooty areas. Also, it was really hot.
Lisa’s energy was totally gone about 5 miles in, and so I gave her a packet of Sport Beans while we took a break. Sure enough, 5 minutes later she was like, “Those are amazing, I feel better now than when we started!”
The Sport Beans definitely helped Lisa for awhile, but the heat began to take its toll on her after another mile or two. I wish I could have magically transported us back to the truck at that point, but there was nothing I could do but let Lisa set the pace and rest whenever she needed to.
Because it’s been so long since Lisa has gone mountain biking, she was also struggling with saddle soreness. By the time we had a couple miles left to go every little bump was agonizing for her. I told her to lift up off the saddle slightly when she was about to hit a root, but she was too fatigued.
I have to admit, the extraordinarily slow pace was a little tough for me to handle. How slow? Well, my fastest time on the route we took is 38m56s with an average heart rate of about 182 BPM. Yesterday that route took 2h42m34s and my average heart rate was 109 BPM. I kept myself occupied by taking pictures and enjoying the scenery, but occasionally I would race ahead a short way and then wait.
Don’t misunderstand, I loved riding with Lisa, and I had a great time. It was a nice change to relax and enjoy the woods instead of racing as fast as I can the whole time. It’s just that I hated to see Lisa struggle so much on the last half of the ride, she was downright miserable. Also, I wasn’t expecting us to be out there for almost three hours, and we ran out of water. It’s my fault, I should have realized that almost nine miles of mountain biking would be too much for someone who’s not been in the saddle for more than a year.
Thankfully yesterday’s ride doesn’t seem to have dampened Lisa’s desire to continue mountain biking. I told Lisa next time we should cut the distance down to 3 miles or so and then we can gradually increase that distance as she gets in better riding shape.