Sunday, April 4, 2010

Three hard laps at Swanson, thinking 'bout Bob Mould

I've never raced my mountain bike. Probably because I suck at riding it. Always have.

What I lack in technical skills I more than make up for with cowardice. Seriously, I'm the biggest wimp I know when it comes to rocks, fallen trees, descents. So not only can I NOT clean basic obstacles, I'm too chicken to learn how.

But Swanson's about my speed, I guess. I mean, I've ridden Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Tahoe and Deer Creek in Crested Butte, but those challenges are mainly length, altitude, and ascent; I walked the famous "double-diamond" section of Toad's, but so did Plastic, my mountain-goat Aggie teammate. But I can handle Swanson. Since my road bike's still waiting for a new derailleur hanger, I took the old Giant NRS out of the basement and did three medium-endurance (Zone 3) loops of the old Bellevue beauty. I guess I should've hit Jewell and seen some racing on Saturday, but those trails went in after I left Omaha.

I rode Swanson a ton with Miah when he first talked me into cycling. Yeah, it's all Miah's fault. We ran into each other at a Bob Mould show at the old Music Box in 2001 or 2002, and he'd lost about 20 pounds since I'd last seen him. My wife asked what the hell he'd been doing, and he said he had been flipping channels one day and saw Lance winning Tour #2 and got all inspired. 

I took a rigid bike on a self-supported tour of Ireland in 1995, but I hadn't ridden it since 1997, so I was WAY out of shape when Miah and I met at Swanson a few weeks after the Bob Mould show. I'd never really ridden on dirt trails. I made it through one lap and had a blast. I was hooked. I bought a hardtail Trek a few weeks later, and now look at me--a frustrated and mediocre Cat 3, eternally trying  to drop the last 10 pounds.

I used to roll through one lap of Swanson in about 35 minutes if I really pushed it. Saturday, I did three loops in about 90 minutes. During the last loop, I hopped on the wheels of two Trek / High Gear riders who showed me some lines and helped me pace myself a bit better. 

The new stuff above Tetanus Ridge is great; it adds some climbing and gets rid of that crappy, rutted descent down behind the fire station. But I don't think racing MTB is in the cards. It'd ruin the pure "fun" part of cycling, and I need to save at least some pedaling for the 10 year-old kid inside who just wants to enjoy the feeling of flying along.

I'm going back to Crested Butte this summer with my old friend Blank, so I'll need to ride the MTB more this season--but I'm going to make sure it stays in the "JRA" part of my training plan.

Anybody have a suggestion for a 6-8 minute road bike climb around Omaha? I gotta find one for hill repeats this week. Urgggg....

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