Finally today I got back on the bike and riding again.
After 2 weeks of man flu inspired rest, it was time to test out the lungs and legs and see how far I could get without turning into a coughing and wheezing mess.
I had originally planned the night before to head out to the You Yangs to ride the dedicated mountain bike trails- however I am still coughing up the remains of man flu so decided to stay local.
I based this decision on the simple fact that I haven’t been on the bike for 2 weeks-so driving 45 minutes to the You Yangs- then having a less than enjoyable ride coughing uncontrollably would give me the shits. staying local was the plan- because if it was too much for my lungs, then I could just limp home.
About 6km from my house is a bunch of trails that are not used very often by anyone – except a few local illegal motocross riders, some dog walkers and unfortunately some less than desirable ice smoking meth addicts. The plus side to this is that early morning you have the area all to yourself.
The area itself is a mixture of disused salt farm and and a filled in municipal dump. The dump provides some sort of hill, while the salt flats and their disused channels provide some short steep climbs (not very high- MAX 2 metres) along with small jumps and the odd sand trap.
The trails go in every direction but with no trees ,you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Being a disused salt farm, and quite desert like – along with the rusted out machinery and dumped car bodies, it looks like a scene from a mad max movie. The trails are mostly flat, with a few berms and rolling bumps- so most the time it’s a pedal fest- making it a good aerobic workout.
The channels and the dump mound(Hill) are the only spots to get any change in elevation- and are quite steep and in parts technical- which means it is possible to max the heart rate if you attack them hard enough. There is some dirt jumps that were built long ago, but they are not for the faint hearted and are quite steep. Probably ok if your on a 250cc trail bike and don’t have to pedal like mad to build enough speed to get up them. I leave these alone and just use the trails that run between them.
So back to today’s ride.
I followed the bike path out to the trails, and while I felt ok- I knew I was still not 100%. It was a great morning to ride, a bit warm- but windless. I completed my usual warm up which is a mixture of bike path, and walking trail to get there. A couple of coughs but not too bad.
Within the trails there are a few Strava segments. A couple up the hill and around it, along with my favourite segment MAD MAX XC. This segment is roughly a 1 km loop around the flat ground, through the dirt jumps, a couple of bermed corners and a 100m long sand trap. It’s a full gas segment, pedalling the whole way- making it easy to test if your getting faster and fitter.
The first lap felt ok, till the sand trap.. The sand here is black and very fine like flour, it’s about 15cm deep at its worst, and there is no way around it, as on all sides of the trail are some savage box thorn bushes ( the only thing that grows here) as I washed out all the way through it, I knew my tyre pressure was too high. Despite riding tubeless, I still keep my psi high most the time as I am pretty heavy, and hate the squishy tyre feeling. As I excited the sand trap I took off and completed the lap.. I knew it was slow, so I stopped and let air out of both the front and rear tyres to gain more traction in the loose sand
Lap 2. I hit it hard, pedalling at a higher cadence. Nailed the berm, through the dips..i felt good.
Heart rate now hitting 155, I entered the sand trap, leaned back a little to take some weight off the front and put the power down.. still sliding a bit, but better.
Exit the sand trap, stand and pedal harder, through the dips and pumping a bit I nailed the last berm, sliding the rear wheel a bit on the exit and sprinted to the end of the segment. Crossing the imaginary finish line- with my heart rate above 165, I relaxed and soft pedalled down the trail. I felt pretty good and wondered about my time. It felt pretty quick, but not quite as fast as the last time when I set the Strava KOM for the segment. I guess I will find out when I get home.
I rode for another 25 minutes or so in the area, in and out of the channels, doing some of the very short steep climbs. This is good training for my goal race in Moama, which is set along the banks of the Murray River, and the terrain is similar- with lots of very short steep and sometimes loose climbs. Today I even managed to hit one of the small gapped double jumps on the way down (not my plan) and much to my surprise I cleared it. Felt like I was in the air for ages.. And put a smile on my face as I don’t really like the idea of gapped double jumps.
So that was it, time to ride back home via the bike path and check Strava.
Feeling awesome that I got out on the bike finally, and only had a few coughs.. Still glad I stayed local as the elevation at the you yangs might of left me coughing more.
Home, I connected the Garmin to the computer, and let it upload to Strava. Quick shower then- there it was. The computer beaming at me. KOM on MAD MAX XC.
Yes I stole my own KOM, but it was a surprise: given A) I don’t feel 100% and B) I took 12 seconds off my previous time- so i can only assume the last few months training must be paying off..
Now I feel pumped and motivated again. However -still this week I will ease back into riding- let the body come good- then start training hard to achieve what I want in Moama.