So how do you know when you’ve had a great ride out in the boonies and you’ve been challenged all the way? Yes…you feel it in your bones the very next day and your muscles feel as if they’re peeling away!
Now, let me be clear. This should not be the aim for any sane rider however every now and again you give yourself such a good workout whilst out riding, there really isn’t any need to go the gym…if ever that was something you’d really want to do anyway?
I tend to watch a lot of biking videos, both cycling and motorcycling and mostly in the off road arena. It’s not because I want to emulate what these whipper snappers are doing, but rather it gives me a few tips about making videos and which location scenes tend to look good. However, one thing is clear from many of the pro skaters or bikers in the action sports field…they are athletes and they work on their fitness to ride and skate all the time.
Of course, being of a certain age and body type…I am by no means an athlete, however I do appreciate the need to be fit and able enough to get the task of riding done. In some respects I know I need to have the strength to lift the bike off the ground or drag it out of ruts or have the ability to move around the bike when it gets a bit wobbly on the bumps, divots and humungous holes.
I also know that I need to have the stamina to face a hard-ish ride in the saddle all day and be able to cope with the vibrations, bumps and compressions that will undoubtedly come with the day too. That being said I tend not to start out my day’s ride with the goal of getting beaten up. Much rather preferring the more relaxed route and ride but ready for any eventuality if absolutely necessary.
So as I sit here, aching all over and with pains in my hips and knees…I know that yesterday’s ride was more of a challenge than I had anticipated but what a rush and what a sense of achievement it was too! Albeit a ride that was on the knife edge of going disastrously wrong and being stranded in the middle of nowhere…somewhere I really shouldn’t have been in the first place.
As a rider, you need to keep developing and inching along to expand your envelope until your repertoire will enable you to go further and see more. That’s the challenge I give myself virtually everyday on the bike…even when most of my riding is within a 100mile radius of where I live. I know that I can discover new trails and go explore them everyday and face the whole spectrum of conditions and surfaces that will test my metal and skills but also get me out into some of the most amazing scenery there is.
I suppose this is where my riding has taken me over the last few years. I returned to my roots and ventured back onto the dirt trails. However I have left the speed behind and replaced it with a sense of wonder in the places I might explore and the notion of starting and ending a trail in one piece. It’s never about completing the course as fast as I can. It’s not about doing stunts, jumps or riding crazy thin ledges…it’s about exploring somewhere new and showing that anyone on any bike can usually achieve the same results.
Today, I have set aside for recovery and the chance to plot my next mini adventure. Scouring maps to find trails, tracks and byways is a daily obsession of mine…riding them is the challenge I try to meet everyday too. However the purpose of each route is always to take me somewhere I’ve not been before or not in a very long time. The challenge is to experience the new, with the bike as my steed and my spirit to get me through it when the times get tough. Always hoping for happy trails, hard compacted tracks and amazing sights…but ready to fight the ruts, bogs and rocks if I really must.