Thursday, August 18, 2011

My first solo mountain bike ride

As I posted a while back, I have agreed to be the fourth member on a team for a relay mountain bike race.  Up until last week, though, I had never ridden a mountain bike, on a mountain.  Years back when I was a little kid, we had mountain bikes to ride to school.  But this is completely different.

Last week, I went for my first mountain bike ride with Old Wise One (who you may have seen comment a time or two on some of my postings).  We went out for a 7.34 mile bike ride that was relatively flat.  It was a great ride to test out the bike that I'm am borrowing for this race, and to make sure I could get some sense of shifting and not crashing.

Today, I went out for my first solo ride on the mountains.  There's a new trail somewhat near my house called the Sonoran Trail System of North Phoenix.  From what I read on the internet, this trail has been under construction for the last 6 months or so and is now open.  Not knowing anything about mountains, or mountain biking, I figured this sounded like a good place to start.

I got to the trail at about 8:30 in the morning, and I was the only car in the parking lot.  I preferred this because I figured I'd be going kind of slow and/or crashing, so I didn't need any witnesses of this poor display of mountain biking.

The is the bike I'm borrowing from a buddy of mine (thanks Steve!)
I knew that this ride started with an absolutely ridiculous uphill, and I still underestimated it.  Right out of the gates, this trail climbs about 500 ft in 1.12 miles.  It's pretty intense.  In fact, this ride had a crap-ton of climbing in it.

Elevation profile
This is the path I took, though there were a couple other options.
I started at the little green "play" marker and took the path counter clockwise.  Once I completed a loop around the mountain, I simply turned around and did the mountain in a clockwise fashion.

I only had one casualty along the way, and it really was a minor crash.  I was going up a pretty steep hill and was standing up to pedal (I don't know much about mountain biking, but I think I've learned that standing while pedaling uphill is not a good idea).  At first I though I had slipped out of gear, causing me to lose my footing and fall forward, and subsequently tipping over.  I got up, inspected myself, put the chain back on the bike and continued.  This happened right before I turned around to do the mountain the other direction.  When I got back to my car, I realized that the rear tire skewer was no longer tight and the rear wheel was not on tight.  So my new theory is that when I was pedaling, I somehow pulled the tired out which caused the chain to fall off, and caused me to fall.  Either way, I had a minor fall.

Minor cuts to my left knee from the ground

A couple of minor scrapes on my left leg from the pedal

Another view of the scrapes on my leg from the pedals.
This trail was a bit different from the other trail I rode last week.  I was a bit more apprehensive to go fast on today's trail.  Why?  Well, just take a look at my surroundings...

That would be a painful crash
It's not like the whole course was like this, but there sure were a lot of these sharp little guys out there.  Aside from that, I thought I didn't do too horribly.  I didn't quite go the pace I wanted, but I was riding pretty cautiously.  And, as I found out after I got home and looked up some stats, I did a heck of a lot of climbing!

Elevation gain/loss totals
So during this 12.5 mile trail ride, i climbed 1,670 ft.  That's crazy!  But, I though, how much climbing am I going to be doing for my upcoming race?  Well, according to the race website, 1,627 ft.

Barn Burner elevation profile
So according to this profile, I did the same amount of climbing in half the distance.  It's really tough to actually compare the two courses, but all I'm hoping is that this ride I did is a good training ride for this race I'm doing.

After it was all said and done, this bike ride kicked my butt!  Those uphills were absolutely brutal.  But, it was a really good workout, and I'm definitely going back to ride this trail a few more times before race day (which is only a week and a half away!).


  1. GREAT WORK ! ! getting out there on the trail. you even spilled some blood, so i do believe you are now ordained a "mountain biker." i do suggest limiting your amount of blood spillage however battle wounds seem to be a part of mountain biking.
    the trail and climbing you found are a excellent example of 'what' to expect between miles 20-23 during the barn burner. if you google barn burner and check out some mapmyride postings, you will see the climbing is very condensed into short segments of the course. (like what you rode on this trail) you just get to ride another 20 miles of relatively gentle forest road.
    once again, GREAT WORK . . . enjoy

  2. Thanks Old Wise One! Hopefully this all works out and I'll have learned enough about mountain biking over the last week and a half to do well enough during this relay!