Sunday, July 13, 2008


I have this problem. I need to know how far I'm riding. I had a computer on my first mountain bike, but I put it on my road bike when I bought that and it never got replaced. I was convinced by a few people that there was no reason for a computer on a mountain bike and it never really bothered me until I started racing.

The other day, Chris and I were talking about the race we have coming up on July 19. It's our first six-hour race and I think we're both pretty nervous. We had originally planned to do a six-hour race at the end of the summer at Drummond Island, which we may still do. However, we decided to do this race as a trial run, since it is at Ithaca and we can get there in about 45 minutes. We figured that before we spent all that time and money going all the way to Drummond Island, we'd make sure we had some chance of putting a good effort into a six-hour race.

At any rate, Chris shared with me that he had a goal of a certain amount of miles at Ithaca and it seemed like a lot to me. I knew it was something I couldn't even get close to and I wondered what kind of a goal I would set for myself. After all, as far as I was concerned the farthest I had ever ridden on a mountain bike trail was at the Yankee Springs Time Trial, which is something like 12 miles. Chris thought I had ridden a lot more miles than that just when we've been riding at Burchfield, but honestly I had no idea.

So, yesterday, when Chris was doing intervals on the road, I decided to head back to Burchfield by myself and see how many miles I could ride in two hours. You see, Burchfield is not like other mountain bike trails I've been to. From the trailhead, there's a 3.5 mile easy South loop and a 1.5 mile easy North loop. There are also several "advanced" mountain bike trails that are either offshoots of one of the easy loops or you can reach them through other advanced trails. None of the advanced trails have any indications of mileage. Normally, what I do is a warm up on the South loop and then head up the North loop a little before shooting off onto the advanced trails. By the time I'm done, I've done so many different combinations of trails I barely remember where I've been. Obviously, I have no indication of what my mileage is.

This time, I opted to just do laps of the South loop so I would be able to see how many miles I'd done. It was like a simulated portion of a six-hour race for me. Granted, I didn't do any hard trails, but from what I've heard Ithaca is supposed to be an easy trail anyway. What I was mostly concerned with was my ability to keep going out again after I'd returned to the trailhead.

It was the best I've felt on a ride in a long time. I figured out after the first lap that I should do six laps total. I was starting to get pretty tired by the end of the fourth, but I made myself go out twice more to get the entire six in. The last two were a little slow, but I was rewarded with some wildlife viewing. On the fifth lap, I saw two fawns feeding at the side of the trail. (Of course, by the time I got my camera out of my jersey pocket, they were gone.) This guy was a little less skittish, though, and I was able to capture him. If the trail signs are correct, I got in about 21 miles, which I am pretty pleased with. I definitely need to get a computer for my mountain bike, though.

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