Last good day before winter

Post from Nov. 29th.

It was Thanksgiving weekend, and I had ridden with Sara on Friday in a freak sleet storm for 10 minutes, but was hoping to ride on Sunday mountain biking. The weather was great. We decided to do a Shed Gambril ride, and one that I know well. I have been doing this ride since around 2000 or so. The only things that have changed is that there is now a down hill trail that is doable going up, and the fire road has become a lot harder to ride(and almost impossible to not dab and walk when there are leaves on the ground). I was riding with young buck Chris/Leland on his full suspension Epic(which he is riding a lot better then he did last time we came), and Kevin on his Rigid SS 29er. Kevin seemed to ride stuff better on the rigid 29er, but was having to go slower on the steeper downhills where you can just have the suspension soak up stuff. We did the ride, and we didn't wreck so that was good. The Fire road climb turned into a little bit of a death march, but we all made it up it in good time. I call this the lower part of the figure 8 I like to do at Gambril-Shed area, I hope to do the Upper part in the coming weeks.


From the better half

Guest Blogger Sara

Until I met Darren, I'd hardly ridden a bike since the training wheels came off at age five. On our first date, we chatted about how he was into cycling, and I asked him jokingly if he had a tandem. He surprised the hell out of me by saying yes. Little did I know that a couple years later I'd be whizzing along on that very bike regularly. Although the first several attempts at riding with Darren caused me a lot of knee pain and frustration (I thought runners were supposed to bike to save their knees from the impact), it seems that we've finally gotten things figured out. We have now realized that: #1. I need to wear regular sneakers and use toe clips (adjusting the bike shoes just wasn't working) and #2 It's unreasonable for a person who doesn't bike (no matter how fit) to be expected to go out for 40+ mile rides without working up to that distance slowly (oops).

Last weekend, the weather was perfect, so we went out on a section of the W&OD trail that Darren used to frequent when he was younger. The parking lot was completely packed--the area has changed quite a bit since Darren's youth (which has brought a lot more contruction and a larger population) and the trail was a popular destination for individuals and families on such a warm day in mid-November. Before we left, we saw a bunch of kids on little bikes slowly following their dad like baby ducklings. Cute.

Darren had wanted to take me on a fairly quick, flat, shorter ride--to get the legs spinning and compensate for our last outing (a longer one on some dirt roads with potholes that made me quite tense). We were passing a lot of people on the trail (not an experience I'm used to since I'm relatively slow on my own!), and some of the riders laughed as we made our way by, saying things like, "No fair...you have two people!" We stopped for a little break at a park in Leesburg and rested by a stream before heading back.

The ride ended up being pretty fun..although there was a lot of dodging in between the crowds and one sketchy turn. We stayed with two different riders for a while on the way back to the parking lot. I don't like when the wheels of our bike and another person's are so close together...not sure how the peloton does it! Luckily, I'm just the stoker, so I don't have to maneuver!

Riding the tandem has already taught me a lot of things. It allows me to better understand a sport about which my boyfriend is incredibly passionate (I even went to my first spin class this week so I can improve). It gets me to return to my roots in the countryside and see some beautiful scenery (a great contrast to my daily life in the city on some of these rides). It provides us an opportunity to work together, in sync, to achieve a common goal--whether reaching the summit of a big hill, rounding a corner, getting fit or simply arriving back home in one piece. It helps me, as much as I fight against it and try to look ahead up the road, to give up control and just enjoy the ride. At least there's no one I'd rather have as my captain :)


Fall Tandem ride

For Holloween, Sara and I were to be out in Leesburg for a party and the parade. We decided to do a tandem ride before the party. Sara had issues before with the Tandem and her knees. I have been doing a experiment where she is not wearing bike shoes but her tennis shoes and toe clips so that her feet can go where ever they want. This seems to be working cause she hasn't had knee pain.
I had found a route that did road from Leesburg to Purcerville and the trail back. That route on bikely was 40 miles and I was looking for us to do something in the 30miles territory. I made it 30miles but messed up the ride greatly because of that. We were riding well, Sara liked going through Waterford, but then after being on Milton Rd, we started hitting dirt. Then with Purceville Rd. it was all dirt. If I had a map I would have had us go a little bit west to the next road which was paved. So we did the dirt road on the tandem with 28mm tires a little too small. Sara got annoyed when I would make sudden changes which were because of pot holes I did not want us to hit. We eventually got to Purceville, and then took the bike path back. We ended up riding for 1:50 minutes so next time I will shoot for us riding around an 1:30. Hoping to ride more with Sara on the tandem in the future.