My Mountain Bike Journey

I’ve been a bit slack about writing recently, for a while it was a bit of an obsession and I decided to take a break after completing The Island. I’ve made a start on the next book, but haven’t applied myself consistently by any means. I do have a plot now, rather than waiting for one to reveal itself as I write.

I haven’t been idle by any means. I’ve always been keen on riding around on two wheels. Like most kids I had a series of pushbikes when I was younger. We rode around building sites and made race tracks on the grass before BMX and Mountain bikes had been invented. This is a blog about my MTB Journey, come back for more.

At some point I discovered the world of dirtbikes. I have an early memory of going to some kind of scramble, probably some time in the sixties before the Japanese brought cheaper, reliable bikes to this country and then nagged my old man until he bought an AG 100.

Long story short, I’ve been riding and crashing a succession of two wheelers most of my life and have the scars and dodgy knee to prove it. Most of my adult hood I’ve owned a motorbike. Starting with farm bikes and trail bikes, gravitating to road bikes, and back again to a variety of trail/enduro machines. Now I have a chunk of high performance precision engineered European high performance machinery I don’t ride anywhere near as much as I should.

One of my knees is pretty stuffed, partly at least, due to a crash when I was younger, and a few hyper extensions, not to be out done by running up and down hills and stairs while working on hill country farms and as a courier in central Auckland. A knee job is part of my future.

I gave up riding a dirt bike about 8 years ago, partly because I had nobody to ride with, partly because I wasn’t really enjoying it and partly because I was afraid of getting hurt.
I sold my two stroke enduro bike and bought an adventure bike. The rest is history.

Roll onto 5 or 6 years ago and we were walking through a farm park within spitting distance of home which had a mountain bike trail running through it. I eyed up the tracks and decided these would be great to ride on a motor bike. I knew this was a forlorn hope, she who must be obeyed would never countenance me having two motorbikes. I wasn’t about to give up the Adventure bike as at that time I was riding it regularly.

To cut a long story short, I decided to buy an MTB. I knew a couple of people locally that rode MTBs so got some advice on what I should buy and as always received conflicting viewpoints. Google was a little more helpful, but the local bike shop offered better advice. One more good reason for supporting bricks and mortar sites.

For about the last two years I have ridden pretty consistently at least once a week. I swapped the entry level bike for an upgrade eighteen months ago, a hardtail with 29inch wheels which I reckon will require an upgrade soon after the big guys has come down the chimney.

I like to ride in the early morning and often head off before day break. At this time of the day I have the place mostly to myself and as I negotiate the cow shit on the tracks it reminds me of the early morning mustering I enjoyed back in the good old days.

The MTB park I ride at has grown in this time and I have a circuit of about 16.5 km, dependent on how GPS is feeling on the day, that I roll around. The track is rideable in weathers as a lot of it has a gravel base.
Last Christmas I set myself a target time of circulating in less than 80 minutes, which I achieved but found hard to match consistently.

The time of the day seems to have an impact and of course it takes longer to get around when its wet, or even damp. And like all athletes I have my good and bad days. Sometimes when I think I have really struggled my times are good, and often when I think I am firing on all cylinders Strava tells me something different.

The Covid lockdown and my wife getting ill slowed me down a bit and I developed a liking for riding around the empty streets. But, somewhere along the line I got pretty close to 76 minutes and decided that even at my advanced age, I could still get fitter and stronger and maybe cleverer and crack the 75 minute mark. To date, I’m about two to three minutes off that time. Given my elapsed time can yoyo upwards and downwards by several minutes on any one day I reckon my target is achievable.

There are obvious things I can do to improve my times- go harder uphill. Yeah right. And faster downhill and on flat sections- a recipe for disaster. I also need to work on my diet and get my weight down. I record each ride so I know where the improvement is required. And stop those sneaky cigarettes which I really enjoy after a good work out

So roll forward to September 2020 and a determination to hit my target before the year is out and lap consistently below 80 minutes in the dry, without buying a new bike, which is probably one way to knock a bit of time off. Good equipment does make a difference but I want to hit my target on my current bike.

I thought I’d keep a bit of a diary. I was going to start from September 1 but thought I’d start with the 29 August.

During the lockdown I hit the roads. It was great, early starts and hardly anyone around. I great to break up the MTB rides with something different and I reckon if I can go early enough there wont be much traffic.

I was making good time on the 29th and then got a flat tyre. This is what Strava thought I was doing when I was changing he tube. Yes I am one of those guys. Why bother fixing a tube when you can throw a new one in. I thought I was doing a pretty good time.

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