Last week, before we re-built the Lyons pump track, I rolled a new 100-lap record. This is despite more work and family time — and way less time on dirt. It gives me hope.
Base building and anger management.
Captain America with the Hilo 100 seatpost all the way down and 2.3 Eskar tires at 38/40 psi. Lowered the Fox 831 pressure from 80 to 75 psi, and dialed the low speed compression all the way up. (Yes, the tires and fork are softer; I think this improves traction and reduces chatter.) 50 mm Answer stem. Age: 42
Standard. 10 laps counterclockwise with left foot in front. Rest for a minute or so. 10 laps clockwise with right foot in front. Rest for a minute or so. Repeat until 10 sets are rocked.
Riding time: 19:15
Old record: 23:39
That is a HUGE difference.
I usually get really tired near the end. Perceived exertion goes way high, and my core gives out. This time I felt strong and held form the whole way.
What is going on?
Babies make men stronger. Just ask Mark Weir and Steve Peat, who are killing it more than ever. Finley helps build the Superior Bike Park.
Who knows? Some thoughts:
More base fitness. I’ve been bummed that I seldom get to pump/jump or trail ride, but — I’ll tell you what — I’m consistent on the trainer and the road. Lester Pardoe at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine started building my base last fall; I’ve been building since. If you can sustain a higher workload with a lower perceived effort, that has to be good, right?
More general strength. I’ve stepped up my strength/mobility work with more convoluted exercises. Lots of body weight, elastic bands, dumbbells. Working more planes of motion, pushing and pulling in more complex ways. The occasional pump-track build does not hurt.
Less fat. Finally getting rid of the baby weight.
Better skills? I know more than ever, and I’m getting better at teaching this stuff.
Captain America! The long, steep Stumpjumper HT frame isn’t ideal for pump trackage, at least on paper, but it’s light and stiff and fits like my trail bikes. The Fox 831 fork is ideal for this sort of ride. As I ran it this day, it absorbed the chatter yet gave a very firm, connected ride. Compared with my old/flexy F100, I feel like I can really work the turns. I often ride the Captain in the hills around my house. That can’t hurt.
General toughness. With the crazy work and the multitude of babies, I am always rocking, always stressed, always tired. Dads know what I’m saying. My pinned meter is already a 9; why not turn it up to 10? Or 11?
Less to prove. These days I’m just happy to get out and ride at my own pace. Most of the “I gotta pin it or I’m not a good person” pressure is gone. That helps me relax and execute.
Quick ride from home on Captain America. 30-minute road climb, a few sketchy dirt loops, back home in under an hour. It can’t hurt.
This experience, and many like it, tells me:
General fitness and strength are good. Even if you can’t get on the bike the way you want, you can do other things that will help you enjoy your dirt time: trainer sessions, road rides, dumbbell violence, 100 Burpees of Death, yoga, push a double stroller up some hills, whatever you can fit into your life.
Skill is where it’s at. While fitness is temporary, skill is forever. You might not have the edge of someone who rips every day, but you can go out and get it done. Heck, I got 2nd at the Sea Otter Cat 1 slalom. That felt pretty cool.
I’m in charge of this weekend’s Lyons Outdoor Games pump track race, but I hope I can take a race run. Last time, the winning two-lap time was 18.0 seconds. On Sunday I ran a 17.5.
Know more. Have more fun!
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