Sunday, October 07, 2007

Baby's First Wombats Ride

Even though I've been throughly occupied with Dog Sports for years now I've been missing my mountain biking excursions a lot. So, now begins a new adventure. (Oh and the dogs aren't going to let me even consider stopping doing dog sports even if I was tempted to. :)

On Saturday the 6th I attended the Wombats (Women's Mountain Bike and Tea Society) 20th Anniversary ride and potluck and I had a fabulous time meeting some really neat engaging folks (mostly women, but some men too).

It was held in Deer Park in Fairfax, which has some lovely, albeit busy, multiuse fireroads trails. On the ride, I learned how specific muscles are used differently in each form of exercise, in this case mountain bike climbing vs. indoor cycling (spinning or "RPM") class at the gym. In spin class, I excel, and get a great workout from it. On the mountain bike ride (and the previous ride I took) I found myself walking up the steeper hills. Fortunately, I knew from my Redwood Park ride when I wore a heart rate monitor, that pushing a bike uphill is excellent aerobic exercise and there's no shame in it (especially if you're pushing at a good clip.) What's interesting is that I am in great aerobic shape and I just need to get my leg endurance to keep up with me (this is true for skiing also.) I was never out of breath on the hills.

Another thing that will help is to just do a lot of one the road climbing (like Mt. Diablo and the like - maybe I'll just start with Snake Road as it has less traffic.) I really like the newer Fisher's lower gearing. When I was on the road and climbing I could gear it so low that I never needed to stop (in Mountaineering parlance this is the equivalent of the "Rest Step" - you're resting in between steps.) Off road you have to be more careful as the ground is uneven and you could fall over at 1 mph - which I've done on numerous occasions.

It also gave me some good ideas on how to use the spinning bike to help train for hill climbing. Mostly it has to do with increasing the resistance and sitting down (and staying there) and getting used to the constant drain on your legs - the classes are great at interval training and learning how to stand and stay up on the pedals, but not as good at the sitting down and toughing it out - though the new RPM routine appears to be intended to address that. And, as usual, I need to do more weight workout on my hamstrings

Jacquie also suggested going downhill with my pedals level. I said that I was more the type to keed shifting them around (according to the direction of the turn and she said that was fine as long as there was some weight on the upper pedal (there is but it's good to keep that in mind.)

Fun Jacquie challenges were:
  • - Can you ride through the narrow trail divider opening? In a bike like mine where I've added bar ends, you usually have to go super slow, grab the fence upright and turn the front wheel handlebars enough to clear it.
  • - Can you do a u-turn on a fireroad. Usually, though I'm still learning this bike critter so I'm not that smooth at it.
  • - Optional but very fun. Can you ride over a row of sawn tree stump sections that have been lined up in a row? This is where I got my requist silly injury with a good story (see previous entry for much too much into on that), as I did fall over the first time I tried it and skinned my knee (it's fine now) the next two tries where more successful but I stopped there as we were starting to fall behind the others.
  • - And the one I passed on. Can you, while riding, smell the small bit of interesting, aromatic plant that Jacquie has just picked (also while riding)?
I still need to get used to clipless pedals offroad (I'm find with them on road), so I did spend a fair bit of time not in the clips. I spent years using toe clips so this is really going to take some adjustment.

Heather was nice enough to sell me her Marin County Bike Coalition map of the area (she works there and can get another one.) The route we took was:
  • - Deer Park Rd (dirt)
  • - Shaver Grade (dirt)
  • - Oaks Rd (asphalt - passing Bon Tempe Lake)
  • - Lake Lagunitas (dirt - road around the Lake)
  • - and return the same way (I think)
I sold my bike computers when I sold my bikes to get this bike so I have no idea how far it was, but it wasn't terribly far, but it was a series of nice climbs. And as you might expect, "mellow" is a relative term. :)

Then there was a fabulous potluck afterward where we drank tea, and at yummy cheeses and decadent deserts. I discovered that Nancy is also a skiier and she says that several Wombats are too (some downhill, some cross country). I think a Wombats trip to Sugarbowl is in order once it really starts to snow and I'd be happy to help organize it.

Names I remember are:
Jacquie (of course)
Donna (who came later and regrettably I have no photos of her)

and some others whose names I'm spacing on and hope they will remind me of them.

I also took pictures and you can see them and also a video of Jacquie talking about appearing on a DVD discussing the fine art of cooking with "gleaned" ingredients AKA The Fine Art of Dumpster Diving. The web page is here:

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