One week in

Yesterday marked the one week anniversary of getting a mountain bike.  I think I can declare it a pretty successful week!  I went from not riding a bike in 14 years to barreling down some challenging “black diamond” designated trails in Happy Jack!  According to my GPS app I use on my iPhone, Cyclemeter, I rode 28.20 miles in this one week period, and add another 4 from our first day before I had the app, for a total of 32.20 miles.  High Five for me!

Tuesday, May, 15, 2012
Yay, bike day!!!  Matt and I both ended up with bikes different than expected, but in a good way.  We purchased our bikes at a great little downtown shop here in Laramie, The Pedal HouseI just love the personalized service we received, which included Dewey working about 40 minutes after closing to finish up our bikes and accessories, and to ring us up.  Now what big box store would give that kind of service?!

I got a Giant Rainier 29er 0 model.  I love it because it’s grey and pink.  Oh, and it’s pretty awesome to ride, too.  🙂  Also picked up water bottle cage (in pink!), a helmet, and gloves.  Matt got a Giant Trance full suspension bike, bottle cage, and bicycle computer. 

After eating a quick dinner, we tossed the bikes on/in the car and hit up the Laramie Greenbelt to get in some needed practice for me.  We did about 4 miles, and I quickly discovered many muscles in my body that I had completely forgotten that I had.  My thighs seared in pain, but I had a big ol’ smile.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Second day out, and we decided to give the Greenbelt another go, just in the opposite direction.  Just about another 4 miles under our belts.  The GPS got all wonky on the way back, probably because Matt had my phone in it pocket and was bouncy all over the place. :/
This ride was hell for me on the return leg.  There was a strong headwind.  My legs burned, my lungs burned, my butt ached, and I just had to get off and walk.  I was nearly in tears.  Suddenly, it wasn’t fun anymore, and I was really disappointed that I didn’t have the push to finish the ride without walking.
Matt wondered if it had something to do with me walking 2.5 miles around Washington Park earlier in the day.  He warned me not to over do it.  So I decided to not to walk the next day to give my legs a rest.  I also decided to research bike shorts.  Call me a wimp or not, my butt needed the extra padding!!
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Matt brought me home some biking shorts! (And some for himself, too!)  I was so excited, and anxious to see if they’re all they’re cracked up to be!  I got the Novara Mia Gel Double Bike Shorts from REI.  When I got on my bike I couldn’t believe how cushy my butt now felt!  We decided to ride closer to home so we wouldn’t have to load up the bikes (we were waiting for a second mount to come for Matt’s Thule rack, and to fit my bike in the backseat both wheels needed to come off, which was becoming a chore).  We rode 5.32 miles in a combination of neighborhood roads and some paths across a park and the prairie.  Definitely a nice mix, and better than the Greenbelt!   
With my butt sitting on cushiness, I found more oomph to my ride.  I powered up some hills without walking, which I felt was a huge accomplishment.  In fact, I felt like I could ride for a lot longer, but it was dark when we finished the ride.  I just felt so awesome after this ride.  I felt a good sore, and I was happy with myself that I just didn’t give up after the hard day I had previously.  
That’s a big thing for me… not giving up.  I’ve been accused of giving up too easily on many things during the course of my life.  So a lot of this mountain biking I want to undertake is to prove to myself that I can’t/don’t/shouldn’t give up.  Maybe it’s all about rediscovering my inner fire and passion for life!
Friday, May 18, 2012
= REI shopping day.  Oh lordy… their anniversary sale is EVIL!  Evil to the wallet!  But we loaded up on a lot of stuff that we needed… Matt loaded up on a portable pump, tubes, tool set, etc.  We both got Camelbacks, and tons of clothing that was all dirt cheap.  I was excited!  Needless to say, we didn’t go out for a ride this day, as we were in Fort Collins until pretty late.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Our first really mountain biking adventure!  No pavement, all dirt and rock!  It was only a 4.82 mile ride, but still oh so fun (besides some cold weather).  It really helped me to get out to some more “technical” stuff, and learn what it’s like to ride over bumpy, sharp rocks, and down steep dirt hills.
Like the day before, we would’ve stayed out longer, but had a wedding to attend.  I suppose spandex tights and helmets are NOT appropriate wedding attire!  Otherwise we probably could’ve just biked over to the church!  
I had no idea really all these trails were east of Laramie in the hills.  Pretty nice to have an area close to come that provides something more than blacktop in neighborhoods.  I know there is a way to get to Happy Jack through this area, so that is something Matt and I are going to look into for when we’re ready to do longer, more strenuous rides.  
I do feel my stamina improving, and I push my muscles more.  It’s a good feeling!
I am not sure what is up with this pose?!  I was just feeling like the Queen of the World for diving head first into this new passion of mine!  And oh goodness, I actually wore spandex in public!!!
We have matching jackets, haha!  Amazing little windbreakers, I can’t believe how something so thin blocks strong Wyoming winds!  Definitely worth getting during the REI sale, even if it’s not a color I am particularly fond of.
The day wasn’t without drama… Matt managed to pop a tube at the end of our ride.  Good timing! 
Sunday, May 20, 2012
SUCH AN AWESOME DAY!   9.63 miles of pure awesomeness!  We decided to take our first venture into Happy Jack, and see what we could find there. 
The smell of the trees, the rush of fresh air… oh man!  It was damn near a spiritual experience, zipping through the trees on my bike, feeling my confidence building.  Fast downhills, technical sections around rocsk and roots, and stream crossings… oh my!  We find ourselves on a few miles of ascents, which I tried my hardest to ride up as far as I could, before hoping off to hike-a-bike.  It was still a work out either way, and Matt offered up encourage and praise.  I wasn’t giving up, I wasn’t turning around, demanding to go home.. I was determined to finish the day on a high note. 
…Then we ended up on Death Crotch.  The name scares the crap out of me, but not nearly as much as the little designation of “Hard” on the trail map.  And it turns out we were going up the hardest side… doh!  It was lots of hiking and pushing the bike.  It felt like hell.  I had improper shoes for hiking.  Calves and thighs burned.  But we kept trudging up, riding short sections when the energy came back to our legs.  The summit never seemed to come!  
Despite all of this, I found myself smiling.  I was conquering something “big” to me.  Second day on “real” trails and found my way to something tough and challenging, and I didn’t turn away like I would’ve expected my old me to do.  Instead I buckled down, and conquered one step and pedal stroke at a time. 
Then it was there, finally!  The summit!  Matt quickly jumped off his bike and ran up the rocks to see the final elevation, which was just short of 9000 feet.  We got out our lunch we packed, and scarfed it down.  
Then the freezing rain/hail came for about 30 seconds, so we decided to begin our descent and get back into the trees in case more bad weather was on the way.  
I was nervous to be riding down in rocky parts with a barbed wire fence to my right side.  It really freaked me out.  Then I crashed… well… more toppled over… away from the fence luckily!  My pedal hit a rock and stopped me dead and I fell over to my left onto a rock.  My first crash!  😀  I felt better that I had gotten my first crash over with.  
Death Crotch, I have conquered you!  I am very excited to ride this the other direction, so I’m going down the steep part, and therefore able to skip the whole massive hike UP a mountain!  
We then decided to make our way back to the Tie City Trailhead.  Took a slight wrong turn so we ended up near the Lincoln Monument and had to ride the pavement back to the car.  All in all, a very good day!  I felt so accomplished and proud of myself!  
Monday, May 21, 2012
Oh so sore from yesterday!  But I figured the best way to beat the soreness was to get back on the bike, so Matt and I did a short 4.17 mile ride around the neighborhood.  
Found a little playground of jumps, which was fun for Matt.  I think I might’ve caught about 6 inches of air, though!  
And that was our first week out!  Tuesday we didn’t ride because we felt we needed a day off for recovery.  Tonight we’ll go out for a bit.  On Friday we leave for a 4 day trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota, where we’re planning on a 30 mile ride on the George S. Mickelson Trail.  I am super excited for this, and having another opportunity to push myself to new limits.  We also might try to see what we can find to bike around Devils Tower and Deadwood.  Should be a very fun weekend!

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