Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

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

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I love it when a plan comes together!

Posted by desflurane on April 16, 2013

I got out for a great training ride yesterday. I’ve been riding with reasonable consistency of late and I can tell that the practice is paying off! I must also attribute some of my success to the near-ideal conditions I enjoyed. It rained the night before, so the dirt was in very good condition, temperatures were hovering around 40-50°F. I can hardly over-stress the effectiveness of the TuBliss/Dunlop combo I’m running on the back of my bike. It works great under every circumstance I’ve tried thus far, and when the hook-up is good to begin with, the traction is phenomenal! As I have said before, it’s amazing what a confidence booster it is to have consistent solid grip with the rear tire. Everything becomes easier to manage and the bike seems unstoppable.

I rode “workout wash” yesterday. If you have followed my blog you may know that this has been a standard feature of my training rides for quite some time but it has been a few months since I visited. The wash consists of a rock-strewn gulley that winds its way up a broad valley floor near my home. It contains numerous small ledges (calling them waterfalls would be a bit of a stretch) and countless loose, bowling-ball sized stones to bounce around on. About three-quarters of the way along the gulley’s length it skirts around the back of a large stone outcropping. By the time I reach this point I’m good and sweaty from wrestling my bike over, around and between billions of rocks, but three or four taller more challenging ledges await me here in rapid succession. By the time I’ve tackled these obstacles I’m usually panting like a pervert in a lingerie shop…

This time workout wash passed by rather uneventfully. It was work, but no big deal, even the taller ledges rolled under my wheels like butter (well, close anyway). After climbing out of workout wash it is possible to catch a close-by bit of rarely used single track that connects into the main single track that I refer to as “the switchbacks.” Again, the good dirt/great tire combo worked fantastically, and I made one of my smoothest runs up through the dozen or so tight turns that have spat me out onto the steep, rocky hillside many a time before.

From the top of the switchbacks I cross over the ridge line of canoe hill and drop into the construction zone where I have discovered multiple places to practice technical, trials-ey moves for as long as I can stand it. Ledges, rocks, sand and gravel piles, hillclimbs and tons of other stuff can be found here. Even a pile of amorphous concrete blobs where cement trucks are emptied out. The beautiful thing is that it is all so close together. Minimal time gets wasted riding from one area of interest to the next. I can just roll from one exercise right into another, so that after two hours of continuous hard riding, I’m ready to punch the clock, having worked on a wide array of skills and situations.

Yesterday’s ride allowed me to tackle all of the classic obstacles I’ve discovered, and even find a few new ones. My riding felt really smooth and controlled. I was definitely riding with confidence so that I could really attack obstacles and RIDE them rather than ride cautiously AT them and see what happens.

I didn’t really crash either. Which is not to say that the bike and I never parted ways unexpectedly, but these were minor occurrences. I find myself “riding out” less-than-ideal situations a lot more frequently now. And anyway, I don’t feel like I’m stretching my skills if I don’t hit the ground once in a while.

I’ve read in woodworking books and magazines that the thing that separates real high-end craftsmen from novices is the ability to cover up the mistakes you will inevitably make – not the ability to perform flawlessly. I think that riding well is very similar. Smooth, fluid riding is a lot about adjusting and recovering from unexpected occurrences (or from genuine errors) more than just nailing it perfectly every time. That’s where I really feel that I’m making some great progress. Mistakes that would surely have knocked me down not too long ago are taken in stride, and sometimes even capitalized on. As a result I find myself riding obstacles (and by riding, I mean RIDING not just hanging on to the bars and praying) that used to seem challenging and asking myself, what was the big deal?


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