Excellent 42 mile MTB ride yesterday; Cyber Monday
November was a pure roadie month for me. There are several reasons why my mountain bike has sat idle since the 50-mile Ride Of the Living Dead (which was held at Santos in late October): between my work schedule, several weekend 100-mile road cycling rides (the Warrior Ride and the Horrible Hundred) and all of the issues going on here at home, I simply have not had time to play in the dirt. I love road cycling, but I have really missed my mountain bike…
So when Mike Simmons shot me a message on Saturday asking me if I wanted to join him on Sunday for a 42-mile mountain bike ride at Santos, he didn’t have to twist my arm. Lisa and I had planned to do holiday decorating yesterday, but she was totally cool with delaying that a week so I could ride. Lisa is awesome. 🙂
Mike put the call out on Facebook to the usual suspects, but none of our regular riding buddies could make it. Roger Sutton saw the post, and said he’d like to join us. I know Roger from Facebook, Strava and by reputation (he’s a very fast MTB racer and road cyclist), but we’d never had the chance to ride together. Roger recently rode the Horse Farm Hundred (I was not able to make that ride) with an average speed of 23.4 MPH. Oh, and he did that on a fixie. Insane. So I was looking forward to riding with Roger, even though I knew he could easily break my legs off.
The weather was nice and cool, and the trails were running really well. For the most part (there were exceptions) we kept the pace very social for the entire 42 miles.
I really love the Epic route at Santos. I’ve ridden it (or longer variations of it) about a dozen times now and it never gets old. It’s got some fun, moderately technical trails with great flow (Nayls Trail and Ern ‘N Burn) some super fast trails and plenty of great scenery. There’s not much in the way of elevation (just ~1,200 feet over the 42 miles), but there are more than a few leg-burning grunt climbs.
About 23 or 24 miles in there’s a fun little climb that’s a Strava segment, and as we approached it Roger thought it would be interesting to see what kind of a time I could post going all-out. He said he’d hit the climb with me, so I said let’s do it! We hit the climb hard, but as we closed in on the end of the segment there were two horseback riders up ahead. We had no choice but to shut it down and stop to let the equestrians go by. Oh well, next time!
My legs were still feeling very fresh with about 10 miles to go, so I pushed the pace a little bit harder. I wasn’t hammering or anything, but I was riding fairly hard. Apart from the segment I mentioned above, I didn’t ride anywhere close to all out or even think about Strava segments, so I was surprised that I wound up setting 14 personal records on yesterday’s ride.
The truth is I’ve NEVER ridden at Santos with Strava in mind. In fact, Mike and I were talking about that on the way home. We thought it might be fun to plan a trip and attack a few segments for time. I don’t have any delusions of KOMs at Santos (racers like Roger Sutton, Steve and Mike Mace and Donnie Harries pretty much own Santos), but I think I could crack the top 10 on a few.
Roger gave me a couple of excellent tips as we rode, and I feel like his advice is going to really help improve my riding.
I love riding with people who are better than I am, as it’s the fastest way to improve. When I first started mountain biking a few years back I almost always rode solo. Improvement was painfully slow. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started riding with guys like Mike Simmons and other experienced and skilled riders like him, my riding improved by leaps and bounds. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you want to become a better rider, ride with people who are better than you are.
Here’s the entire ride on Strava.
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