Unleashing it on the world

I just ended the longest not-riding-outside stretch of my life. Four months of work, weather and babies have restricted my cycling to the garage. Yesterday’s weather looked good — finally! — so I took the new Stumpjumper to Left Hand Canyon OHV area.

Riding outside counts
I’ve been following a precise[ly brutal] training plan twice a week on the trainer. Yesterday I was supposed to ride three minutes at 80 percent of threshold, three minutes at 90 percent then three minutes at 100 percent, recover then rock six 30-second sprints at full power. Last week this workout made my head spin and my fingers tingle. I was actually worried about missing it but — ha! — that climb definitely counted.

I slogged through the muddy/snowy lower stretches in the 22/34. Not winning any races, that’s for sure, but warming up and getting the job done. After months on the trainer, it felt great to be riding outside. This is what it’s all about, right?

As you climb out of the valley, the pitches become atrociously steep. So steep that 4x4s were stalling. So steep that as soon as I saw them I instinctively unclipped. I have never, not once, pedaled up these suckers. But this is a new year, and I’m an indoor spinning fool, so I went for them — and cleaned them all.

What helped:

1) Dialing down the TALAS fork. Not so much for geometry or handlebar position, but to point the nose of the saddle down because

2) Pulling myself forward all the way to the nose of the saddle. Just like with downhilling, it’s best to balance your weight over the middle of the bike. When you’re riding up something super steep, that means pulling yourself way forward.

3) Flat-out pinning it. Why develop power indoors if you won’t unleash it on the world?

Everything that makes Left Hand Canyon horrible to climb makes it awesome to descend. A downhill bike is not overkill. Heck, a moto isn’t overkill. What a great place to test the new 2010 Stumpjumper trail bike. On the super-rough upper stretches I focused on staying balanced and moving my hands and feet in sync with the rocks.

Faster … pump this, hop that, jump that. Not braking … not feeling like I should brake. Fun! I wasn’t exactly rocking DH race speeds, but I was pinning it over some serious rocks. The bike felt neutral, planted and — I hate to use the hackneyed term — bottomless.

Post-ride measurement confirmed full use of front and rear travel, but I don’t remember any “clank” moments. That’s a sure sign the suspension adjustment is pretty close. I did get bucked twice. I’ll add some pressure in back and see if that helps.

I like to erase the brutality with an easy pavement spin. So I cruised up Left Hand Canyon Road, covered in mud, wearing a huge pack, still rocking the knee guards. Groups of road riders were overtaking me with a consistent lack of friendliness. I said hi, they said nothing. Whatever, you’re training, I get it.

One approaching group was chatting and laughing and having a great old time. Awesome. Right before they reached me, they shut up and sped up. I was like hey everyone, great day! But their heads were down, and they were throwing down. You know I don’t matter, right? Whatever, you’re training, go for it.

As they sped away I wondered, how much power are they making? Just curious. So I brought my hands in next to the Point One Racing 70mm stem, rolled my hips forward and opened the throttle to about 90 percent of threshold. Their Doppler shift went from red to neutral to blue as I caught up. I sat about 20 feet back, not close enough to draft but close enough to see their furtive glances, their consternation.

All good. My work is done.

Why develop power indoors if you won’t unleash it on the world?

Also read:

Embracing pedaling as a skill

First ride: 2010 Stumpjumper Pro M5

Know more. Have more fun!

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