Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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Riding season in Northern Nevada continues!

Posted by desflurane on December 17, 2010

Every year from around the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s there is a big jump in the volume of surgical procedures performed. Due to several factors – the opening of ski season, icy roads & sidewalks, and especially the expiration of people’s health insurance deductibles for the year. Whatever the reason, it translates into a lot of work at the end of the year for everybody in the OR’s. Of course the extra work is nice! But it makes for some long, busy days trying to get a free minute to get X-Mas shopping, X-Mas parties, etc. etc. done!

The weather has been particularly fine lately, with cool (not freezing), sunny days. The dirt is phenomenal! Nice and moist, but not muddy or frozen. Really choice conditions. But, my work days have been running easily into the dark hours and I haven’t gotten to take much advantage of this little window of paradise.

Yesterday, for no particular reason, I was scheduled for only two cases in the morning and would be done by about 11:00am. As soon as I discovered this my brain set itself whirring, plotting, scheming – conjuring the plan that would allow me to finish work and go riding for the precious few hours before sunset.

10:00 am and I was still wondering how it was going to work out when, like a ray of sunshine through stormclouds, my friend Ben Barnes texted me asking if I wanted to go riding – NOW? I jumped on the chance, and an hour or so later, found myself suited up and ready to ride with Ben and Jeff – who I had a fantastic day with at Chalk Bluff. These guys are solid expert-level riders who leave me woefully behind on the trail – exactly what I need. They are thoughtful enough to stop and wait for me to catch up occasionally, so it all works out. It is an excellent skill builder to ride with these guys, it truly pushes my limits.

We met up out at Moon Rocks, a popular area where we all have ridden for years. Ben and Jeff (and by extension, Me) were in search of a new line of singletrack that a fellow had burned in not too long ago. It would be nice, fresh trail that hadn’t been in existence long enough to get all whooped out. We ran in to another guy on a KTM 200 who was out by himself and wanted to ride with us. His name was Todd (turns out Jeff knows him) and he is also a very good rider. My hopes of not being the brakeman were quickly dashed as Todd zipped effortlessly past me on the trail. I worked as hard as I could to keep the other guys in sight. I wasn’t WAY WAY back, but I definitely wasn’t keeping up.

The singletrack was definitely sweet! It was relatively new and free of whoops. Unfortunately it climbed into the hills sufficiently to have gotten a decent amount of snow and we eventually came to the point where the risk of climbing higher into the snowy hills just wasn’t worth it. And there was plenty of awesome riding to be done below the snowline, so we turned around and followed our trails back down to where the ground was brown again.

I only rode about 28 miles, the other guys did a good bit more – they rode out to Moon Rocks from Golden Valley, which is 10-15 miles away through the hills. They were quality miles, though! When the trail was snowy it became a great balance and wheel-placement exercise. One false move on some of the downhills (which are touchy without snow) and you would be wearing a sagebrush for a hat!

The last few rides I have been trying to focus a little on my riding form. After the Chalk Bluff ride with these guys my quads were completely DESTROYED! I was sore for a week. I realized that most of the time I ride with my knees bent too much. I am completely comfortable with riding in the standing position, but when the trail is tough, I tend to crouch – which is great for soaking up bumps and being ready for the next obstacle. But for the remaining 80% of the time when you are just riding between obstacles – and this may be only twenty feet at a time – it is a waste of energy and muscle strength. I really could tell a difference when I straightened by legs out between bumps and turns. Even if it was only for a second or two. Giving the muscles a chance for some blood flow (oxygen in, CO2 and lactate out…) really helped.

Watching Shane Watts ride at his course, I noticed that his knees are almost locked-out straight most of the time. Not quite locked, but close to it – ready to flex at any moment in response to the trails demands. The effort required to stand in that position is MUCH less than when the knee is flexed further – even slightly. Energy conservation techniques will certainly be key in Romania. That race is going to be one strenuous mother!

I am writing this in the OR (we are between cases) and through the picture window at the end of the hall, snow has begun falling in earnest. The riding season may have just ended! Glad I got out yesterday!


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