I didn’t really get heavy into mountain biking until my early 30s. Did you know I actually participated in and placed in 6 races? What an extreme rush.
Whizzing between trees, ducking under limbs, skidding through sand pockets, splashing through mud, finding slim holes to squeeze past an opponent and biking along single track is indescribable. I may have suffered a nasty slash in my new bike seat on day 1, but am one with my slick Giant bike and know every creak/crevice when tackling any trail. Plus the seat has survived numerous crashes and brushes with danger, and is still thriving on runs 10 years later with no signs of wearing thin.
We had a small group of enthusiasts that would try to meet up once a quarter to let loose. Our usual choice to meet up at was the extensive system in Ocala at the Santos trailhead. Only 90 mins from Orlando, it was a half day escape. Trails for all abilities snaked in and out of the tree line with even a special bmx track for the real crazies. I thoroughly enjoyed leading the pack and setting the pace through mostly moderate single track trails for hours. And bringing a lunch to enjoy after the sweat fest was a must. I miss these days immensely.
It’s rare to find, but my race of choice was the duathlon, where I could mix it up between trail running and mountain biking. I was a stronger biker so I naturally favored the thrill of a speed ride. And I’ve always been drawn to hard core trails rather than the cadence of road biking.
As a self proclaimed perfectionist, I would plan to arrive to the race site a day or two prior so I could practice via multiple course repetitions. Did it help? Absolutely, even if just for my self confidence and a little bit of a mental edge. I have always thrived off of practice in all aspects of life and visualizing each turn, each corner, each obstacle. Then preparing to overcome any fears or second guessing.
My body doesn’t recover as quickly these days and I never got sucked into buying all the cool gear, but if I saw a duathlon scheduled close by in the woods, I would seriously reconsider my retirement from this adrenaline infused addiction.