Saturday, October 31, 2009

musical mountain biking

So last week while taking a friend mountain biking on her new 29er, I noted how well she was doing for a relative newbie. Though a strong triathlete, she had been injured while running, with subsequent surgery and she had spent little time doing much more than swimming, road riding and physical therapy. I commented to Emi, on how well she was handling the twisty singletrack, and managing to get over the roots and small logs. She reminded me that she used to play violin in her not-so-distant youth, and felt that it was similar.. scanning the score ahead while managing to play the tune on demand, sight-reading the trail as it were! Having a (distant) background in flute and recorder, I loved the analogy, and took it with me as Dennis and I rode this warm autumn morning. I have often marvelled how we can ride in synch together, and at this time of year, having not been training very intensively for a couple of months, we are quite close in strength and speed. Since the Vermont 50 race, we still have a 32 x 18 gear set-up, so as we headed out on the blue trail, we rode stroke for stroke, barely an inch between my front tire and his rear wheel a capella together through the trees. Peak colours are just past, and the wind is causing showes of leaves to fall as we ride, hiding the trail in front of us and covering it as we pass, silent, poco allegro. We wound our way down the Switchback trail, carving into the berms scoured out by the illegal, inconsiderate dirtbike riders: I made a mental note to contact C.L.I.M.B's (concerned long island mountain bikers) president Mike Vitti, who has helped recover and renovate other damaged trails in the area. Our group SPOKESPEOPLE has made a strong connection with the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society and have a plan for dealing with transgressors adn those who facilitate them.. Watch this space.. and ! The farmstand loop was sweet, fast and flowing, and we blasted along, only to slow andante past the EHTPS hikers.
Dennis and I don't speak as we ride, except to remark on the burning colours of the wild bluberry bushes, or groan as we test our jello-legs on the climbs not recently ridden! Many times, we ride so close in space, it feels like we are extensions of each other, his slight leaning leading me through the corners, my front wheel bunny hopping over fallen logs almost synchronous with his rear wheel landing. Batthump, batthump shoooosh, shoooosh. Like a heartbeat. Like a metronome. The Gun club trail was a rude awakening to our fitness level, with us making it up all but one of the climbs, but not without a serious stress on our lungs and legs! I love this feeling, a touch of dizziness, hollow legs, and then a well timed downhill to recover on.. I look forward to long, cool Autumn rides to get my base fitness back, already dreaming of sliding out on pine needles and russet leaves on tomorrow's ride. Behind Dennis, or leading him, feeling the rhythm, making our own music in the silent woods.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

bermuda peeling

Bermuda; aaah: the feel of warm air on our goose-pimpled New York skin.. it didn't matter that it was howling a gale and flashing lightning as we disembarked from the plane: we were finally warm!
The trip to Bermuda for a 10k swim was a bit of a long-shot at the end of a summer of mountainbiking (a bit) and swimming ( not enough) and writing papers for school (a lot). However the enthusiasm of the swimmers was contagious, and we quickly got in the mood. A practice swim on the 2k section of the course was yummy, we could have stayed in forever.. the water in Harrington Sound is quite salty, so buoyancy was increased.. getting our white, glimmering backsides above water even more!! Check in was a hoot, serious goody bags including Bermuda Rum amongst other essentials,
Raceday start was relaxed, fun in the sun and a gentle current!
At 2k, we turned into the current to get around 3 little islands, then more cruising.. 4-6k was challenging with 2 foot chop, 12+kn of wind and minimal buoys: a lot of guessing regarding the course, I just got between these two old timers who looked like they knew where they were going..I wondered how Emi and my sister were faring. Knowing that Niamh loves the bumpy water and is very adept in open water swimming, I was really only a bit worried about the bergermeister..She swam like a trooper a couple of weeks back in difficult swimming circumstances, so I knew she wasn't a panicker.. she'd be fine..
6k in, my right shoulder started to talk to me, especially when sighting, pressing down on the water to lift up and buoy spot.. I was able to alter my stroke with longer strokes, firmer push past 90 and gentler recovery.. a bit stronger in the kick to balance the press while sighting..all stuff I should be doing anyway! I switched from alternate sides to breathing every 4 strokes on my more vanilla right side, and relaxed into the final stretches. 2K to go! The finish line was in sight, and I picked it up as best as my shoulder would allow.. sometimes it feels good to be a little restrained! I was happy gliding through the blue, checking out the starfish and stripey things en route to the finish line, staggering out at 2:55, funny to be back on shore..
Not yet registering the sunburn (idiot forgot to get her arse with the factor 40), my hip was the most demanding of my attention: I was limping after a 10k swim.. hilarious! Niamh tootled in at 3:30, Berger shortly after, trailing Harrington by only seconds..Rachelle came 3rd in the 2k swim, and Dennis was on hand enjoying the show, inspired to do the 4k next year..
Much fun that night on the town, hilarity on the plane, back to rain, wind and short days.. with peeling backsides.. Can't wait until 2010 swim, and now I have my eye on Rottnest 2013..contagious!