45 Days of Riding

My job is very feast or famine.  When there’s work, there’s tonnes of work but when there isn’t I’m left with a lot of time on my hands.  This July I find myself left with 6 weeks of almost no work and, rather than spend the time in a panic about bills or impending homelessness, I’ve decided to set a fun goal for myself: 45 days of mountain biking.   My job is very feast or famine.  When there’s work, there’s tonnes of work but when there isn’t I’m left with a lot of time on my hands.  This July I find myself left with 6 weeks of almost no work and, rather than spend the time in a panic about bills or impending homelessness, I’ve decided to set a fun goal for myself: 45 days of mountain biking.

For 45 days straight, I will get out on my bike.  Just to lay down some rules here, I am not counting commuting or road cycling as part of this but I am counting any time at a pump track, skills part, or dirt jumping.

To be honest, this makes me nervous.  I’m worried about getting tired, sore, or starting to hate riding as it may feel more like an obligation instead of fun.  I’m also excited about improving my skills, possibly making new riding friends, and I’ll be honest here, losing some weight would be great.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to my body and my mind as I go through this process.  If all goes well, I’ll be posting some embarrassing before and after pictures.  I’ll be checking in with short daily videos as well as strapping the Go Pro on for some ride videos.  I’ll definitely be recording my first and last rides and hopefully the improvement in skill will be noticeable.

I’ve touched on this before as well but I am also an anxious person.  Without getting into too many personal details, my mental health is something that has an effect on every day of my life.  While I have gone through periods of daily exercise, it has been a while since I’ve done anything truly daily.  Many doctors say that regular exercise helps with mental health issues so I’m excited to see if there is a change in that realm.

I should also warn you all that there will probably be a lot of repeat trails and mountains as there are some that are more convenient than others for me to be going by myself, but I’ll try to get onto some new trails and new places whenever I get the chance.
I also am very open to new riding buddies so if you want to arrange a ride with me just let me know!  Hopefully we can work it out.

With all that said…. Here goes nothing.  Day 1.

From the Streets to the…. Trails.

Every day I cycle up to that hill. I think we all have that stupid hill. I ride up to it and as I’m getting closer and closer I’m hoping and praying that the light just before it will turn red so I have an excuse to stop and rest before tackling it. It stares me down and I stare it down. It knows I’m tired from work and it’s trying to break me. I remember the joy I felt zipping down it this morning on the way to work at what feels like light speed. Everything was so fast and so easy. But the way back up isn’t easy. The way back up sucks. This is my off-the-trail training journey.

Let’s face it. Getting all your gear together and heading out to the mountain isn’t always in the cards. I work ten billion hours a week and am usually pretty exhausted most of the time. Combine that with the non-summer sun going down at 6pm and it’s a recipe for no riding for a long time. So I have been trying to find other things I can do in the meantime to not lose any of the progress I’ve made out on the trails.

The first thing has been actual hitting the gym time. I’ve done both in the gym and at-home workouts. I do enjoy this time but, ultimately, I prefer to actually be DOING something.

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Post-workout “why?!”

Probably similar to sticking a trail runner on a treadmill. Sure it’s fine and all but to actually get out on the move is where you really want to be. Either way, I find it extremely helpful to get my muscles in shape in order to last longer on my bike when on the trails. I have noticed an improvement for sure, but the only down side is still dealing with the sore legs from the squats you did that week while trying to shred. Doesn’t work so well when you start out tired.

The second is where the beginning of this blog comes in. Road cycling time. I’m not a great road cyclist. More of a semi-reluctant commuter if anything. If you saw me out on the road I definitely look like a mountain biker on her way to work. But I do have some great friends who are very skilled in this area and I was very happy to take one of them up on his offer to show me the ropes. Bryan and I hit the streets and he showed me some good routes to take, general roadie etiquette, and some general bike control type stuff (including shifting pointers). He’s great on the road, competes in cyclocross, and is a mountain unicyclist which is amazing to watch.

While I grumbled and suffered through some of this time, overall it was just nice to be on a bike, any bike, and doing my thing. There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind on your face and that sense of freedom knowing you won’t have to pay for parking when you get downtown. Of course there are negative moments (like the hill of doom) and idiotic moments (no matter what the weather says or what it looks like outside, it will rain in Vancouver and I really need to learn to prepare for that) but the days come where maybe you don’t need t use your granny gear to get up that hill. Maybe you’re not as sweaty and out of breath. Maybe you made it to work in record time. Either way, these little accomplishments add up and suddenly you’re riding all the way from your car to the trail head when before you couldn’t even make it to the gate. Riding on the road isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but it’s a great, eco-friendly, free way to commute, helps me with my overall fitness goals, and has definitely helped me on the mountains. IMG_0590

Whatever your off-mountain fitness routine is it all adds up to help you out when you just have to get in one more run to perfect that feature that gave you trouble last time. I’ll definitely be checking in with more of the off the trails fitness tales as time goes on. What works? What doesn’t? What’s fun? We’ll see…