On Friday the Road Queen and I headed south to Alum Creek State Park to ride mountain bikes. RQ is no stranger to trails in the woods but usually her mount has four legs, a mane and a tail. This was her first time riding mountain bikes and other than a little case of nerves she did great.
Riding off road for the first time is always a trial by fire but the Road Queen's tenacity and adventurous spirit served her well and she kept the rubber side down all day.
During a break during our ride she commented that trail riding on a bike is opposite from horseback. On a horse you pick your way slow and careful down the hills obviously to keep the horse on his feet. Going up is another story. When climbing it's easier for a horse to take advantage of all that muscle and lunge up the hill with big powerful strides. Hang on and enjoy the rush! On a mountain bike it's the climbing that goes at a snail's pace as you grind your way up using the mechanical advantage of the bicycle's low gears. It's the downhill runs that generate the thrills on a bike.
We spotted this little guy sulking around in the woods:
RCT successful balance test on the long bridge.
I've used clipless pedals for years on my mountain bike. Bucking around on a hard tail bike over roots and rocks I always felt more secure with my feet attached to my pedals. Since I got the dual suspension bike though I've noticed that the ride over the rough stuff is more manageable so I decided to ditch the eggbeaters and try some big platforms for change.
I picked up these Nashbar Venge platforms and had them in my hands Thursday just enough time to install them to my cranks and go for a little test spin around the neighborhood. Tall studs screwed into the pedal provide a solid grip and the nice wide platforms feel very stable. After just a short while on the trail I was sold. Clipless pedals have their place for sure in racing but for more leisurely riding in the woods I really like not having to deal with clipping in and out. When I did cut loose on a sketchy downhill or catch a little air off a jump the pedals felt as stable and secure as ever.
Low profile, well finished in handsome black with sealed cartridge bearings all for $39.00 I think one would be hard pressed to find more value in a good platform pedal. I'll continue to mash and bash them and see how they hold up in the long term. For now they've found a home on my dual suspension and I hope they stick around.
RQ said she loved the mountain bike experience compared to the monotony of road riding and wanted to go again so on Sunday I took her to my local single track The Stoller Road Trail located near Lexington, Ohio. We spent a few hours playing in the woods and enjoying the pretty views and nature all around us.
On her second ride RQ got a handle on her nerves and was able to begin honing the fat tire craft. Since she doesn't have her own mountain bike I let her borrow my Yeti single speed. Now that may sound like a dirty trick cutting a new rider loose on a one geared bike but I actually think a SS is a great way to learn the basics of off road bike handling. As a freshly minted trail rider bouncing around on rough root covered single track it's hard enough just keeping yourself upright let alone trying to figure out when to shift and what gear combinations to use for any given situation. RQ agreed and said she liked riding the Yeti.
This time of year in the late summer is when I ramp up my moutain biking activity. The cooler weather and clear crisp days makes the woods magical and the place to be. Rolling along on fat tires keeps you moving just fast enough to stay ahead of the biting insects and the trails are dry and worn smooth by a summer of use. If you need me I'll be in the woods.