Monday, May 21, 2012

Mountain Biking

Well, I have stopped doing ride fast.  Organized plans aren't really my thing.  I just like to ride.  I like the speed. I like the exercise. I like being in the woods.  So for the last few bike rides I have taken I have dusted off my mountain bike and put it through the paces again.

The first couple rides were through Palmer Park.  Although it is not designated mountain biking, not many people use the park in the summer.  It has a few cross country skiing trails that are mostly flat with a few small hills.  It is a good place to start out mountain biking.  Not too twisty, not many hills, but not entirely flat.  I've been down to Fort Custer and most of them trails make Palmer Park look like a kiddy slide.

Mountain biking is quite different to road cycling.  Road cycling you are pedaling almost constantly. Your breathing/heart rate stays at steady rate and doesn't get very high except on hills or when you decide to sprint.  Mountain biking on the other hand you don't pedal constantly and your cadence(how fast you spin your pedals around) varies on the terrain.  For example, when you go through a sand pit you will switch to an easier gear and spin the pedals as fast as you can to keep your momentum until you are past the sand pit.  Also in mountain biking your breathing/heart rate doesn't stay steady.  It spikes quite often due to spinning your legs as fast as you can, more hills, and you are not on a smooth surface so there is more friction.  Mountain bike paths are more twisty too so you turn your handlebars more sharply and more often than road cycling.

Yesterday I went mountain biking in Grand River Park.  The trails in there are much more challenging than Palmer Park.  Sections of the trail are covered in grass which really slows you down, so the trail feels like a steeper hill than it actually is.  There is a couple hills that are too steep for me to ride up right now.  I try my best to get up them as far as I can and hike my bike up the rest of the way.  Temperature was higher yesterday and the humidity was high too.  I was huffing and a puffing a lot of the time and my body was beat by the time I went home.

For a final note just as a warning for this year.  I noticed that poison ivy plants are growing much faster and bigger this year so watch out!
In case you don't know what it looks like:

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