Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Helmet Cam Is A Harsh Mistress

So I did this wicked awesome ride down Mount Wilson with Linnea and my brother last Friday. We climbed for three hours and then dropped over 4000 feet in 45 minutes, with 2600 of those feet coming on an awesome sidehill singletrack run, full of crazy-tight switchbacks and steep drops on the low side. Obviously we totally ripped, and I was only scared a few times, when there was a hundred-foot precipice to the left and the trail was only six inches wide.

Then I watched the helmet cam, and it turns out I'm kind of a wuss.

Hoegee Trail Mt Wilson Helmet Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.
I was just complaining about how cameras don't adequately convey pitch and speed, or maybe it's just that by 2009 we've all seen so many insane bike videos that every time we shred the tiniest bit of gnar we think it's gonna come out like this.

In other words, I feel Thom's pain, but here is a video with some stuff I did set to some music I like, I hope you like it too.

King of Burlingame is coming up fast and only has 13 spots left at the time of this writing. Several 'cross nemeses/victims are on the prereg list so I'm hoping this whole vacation-to-business-trip-(to-50/50-grind-to-fakie) thing works as a surrogate for doing real base training.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This One's For Hill Junkie

Update: Now with pictures.

My traveling companions have tired of my neverending prattle about vertical feetages and percent gradientage. This is because they are simple folk who cannot appreciate staring at a map and calculating slope. And then calculating it some more. And then talking about what you calculated.

Anyway. Today we went to go ride up this mountain, because we saw a road up it on Google maps, and we had been riding in its shadow for several days. And doing a ride with a 5000 foot climb is pro.

Let me just say, we should have looked at it in Google Earth or something else that would have let me calculate just how steep this thing was, because we epically failed in our ascent.

The approach was a dirt road grind across the plains, steadily increasing in pitch, big ring into middle ring into little ring, until you're climbing at 3 mph on the loosest dirt road ever created and you still haven't gotten to the actual mountain. For thirty minutes we could look up at the mountainside and see the road we were going to take snaking across it. It managed to climb 1500 feet with just three switchbacks in 1.5 miles. It was STEEP. 20% average, unpaved and loose as hell.

But there was this weird dark cleft on the lower section, I'd been trying to figure out what it was, some kind of washout, a shadow, a different type of dirt? Then we rounded switchback #1 and there it was -- the steepest paved road I'd ever seen.

I've climbed Lincoln Gap so I'm intimately familiar with 20% inclines (and my stem), and this was WAY WAY WAY steeper. I started up in my 22x32 gear after claiming it was "totally rideable," and I lasted about 45 seconds, until I got to the first spot where it "flattened out" and realized that dropping from a 38% grade to a 28% grade does not actually let you recover. Let the record show I still made it twice as far up as anyone else in our party.

Anyway -- I mapped it out when we got home, and holy crap, 33% for a quarter of a mile! How do you like that, Hill Junkie? Got anything in the database that's steeper?

It's completely impossible to sit down a 33% grade without flipping over backwards, so to clean this thing would require 8-10 minutes of chest-on-bars pedaling in the little ring on your mountain bike. I don't have any more free days for silly "adventure" on this trip, but if I'm ever back in this godforsaken city, look out, you stupid mountain.

Here's where it is, if you ever "need" to find it.

Looking down the steepest part -- this had to be near 40%

You can tell this part is less steep because we took a photo of someone riding on it.

As always, nothing ever looks as steep in a picture or video as it looks when you're standing there. I've always thought this was due to the restricted field of view of a camera, but suddenly it occurs to me that maybe the real issue is that the massive field of view my eyes provide exaggerates slopes. Whoa.

Tan Line Update

In true amateur-blogger fashion I dropped off the face of the earth after the Inferno. That kind of thing is pretty easy to do when you get a weekend without racing and a 9-day trip to Las-f'ing-Vegas.

There are a lot of things wrong with Las Vegas -- golf courses in the desert, slot machines in the supermarket, underwater mortgages, housing developments up to the mountains, eight lanes everywhere and a million traffic lights -- but all that does give you an appreciation for riding 30 miles at a time through the desert.

When it comes to vacation reports, I don't know what to say unless something insane is happening. Nothing insane is happening here. I am sleeping a lot and riding a lot and programming a lot. Standard issue bike nerd lifestyle, or so I've been told. On the insane front though, things are looking up, because I just found out I will be flying to Charlotte at 6am next Monday, after landing in Manchester at 12pm Sunday night.

Soooo yeah. I did some cool rides:

...with some cool people:

and took some helmet-cam video:

Bootleg Canyon - Girl Scout Trail from colin reuter on Vimeo.

The helmet cam is no seat cam when it comes to conveying a sense of speed, but it's the only halfway-stable way to film on a mountain bike.

Reading the details about how bitchin my week has been would probably not make you happier to be at your desk job right now, so we'd better quit now. Besides, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sugarloaf Inferno Race Report

When I went to bed Saturday night, I was pretty fatigued from a classic 50k, but I figured that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. I set the alarm for another stupid-early time and lay down, falling instantly asleep.

When I woke up, I was still in the same position I lay down in, but I had apparently aged 50 years overnight. Either that or my spine had been stolen by elves while I slept -- in either case, my hip flexors, groin and lower back hurt more than I can ever remember. These muscles are integral to pretty much anything beyond sitting down, and definitely a big part of "skating" (but apparently not enough to be trained by it...), so I was in for a rough day at the Inferno.

With several days of above-freezing temps and below-freezing nights, the conditions were going to be loose granular, which is to say "fast as hell." Given that the race starts out going straight down an intermediate alpine trail, the name of the game was going to be risk management, since the penalty for crashing could easily be a lot worse than lost pride. Luckily I honed my risk management skills that morning in the ultimate no-crash-zone, "driving to the race." After two hours of wondering if my car would get back on the ground in time for the next corner (it's frost heave season on Rt 142), I got to 'da Loaf and got ready to throw down.

The much-ballyhooed Colby nordic team didn't show up, probably because they had to catch up on their post-season drinking, which meant my task -- win a ski race for the first time in two years -- was a bit easier. Still though, Kyle from Saint Lawrence was there, and I nearly broke my leg last year, so it wasn't exactly a done deal.

The Inferno is the only noridc race you can legitimately use the word "headwall" to describe the course with. According to my Garmin I went from 0 to 42 mph in just over ten seconds, which is basically as fast as my car accelerated when fully loaded. The difference is, when my car hits 42, I don't go "HOLY SHIT" and throw my arms out, then again my car doesn't go over headwalls either, so maybe this whole comparison is kind of stupid.

Anyway, 42 in the Inferno is a lot scarier than 45 at Stowe because you don't have a runout, you've got to get it back down to a manageable velocity in time to make the first right hand turn, conveniently located on the second headwall and barely 25 seconds into the race.

After that, it's just a question of harnessing the fear-based adrenaline into stepping what you can, sliding what you can't, and sprinting when it's not downhill, for 9 more minutes down to the finish line. This time I was rocking the forward-facing boot cam, so you can experience the Inferno for yourself, albeit with about 2 minutes of uphill edited out:

Sugarloaf Inferno Boot Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

I never know what to say when I do well at things. I didn't crash and I went wicked hard, aided by seeing Alex ahead of me for the last minute or two. I wanted it really bad but couldn't overtake her at the line (she started 60 seconds ahead), but anyway, I pulled off a 17 second victory over Kyle from Saint Lawrence and took home the WINNAH'S PIE.

It was a great way to end the season. I think more ski areas should hold event specifically tailored to my strengths, it would be... uh... good for the sport, yeah, that's it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bretton Woods Marathon Race Report

Stage two (out of only two, thankfully) of the don't-embarrass-yourself Marathon Tour took me to Bretton Woods on Saturday for a 50km classic. I prepared for this event by classic skiing exactly once between the Flying Moose and race day. I can't even say "whoops," like I didn't mean to, because it was all part of the plan to ride briskly at an undefined point in the future. Sacrifice your hip flexors in March, pedal fast in April, that's how it goes?

The event had an 8:30 AM start time, which could be interpreted in a few ways; either they were trying to do us a favor by ensuring the race ended before the hottest part of the day, or they were trying to push as many people as possible into having to stay locally the night before, stimulating the ole economy and whatnot. I foiled them by staying 1.5 hours away at my parents' house, which seemed clever, until I did the math and realized the alarm would be set for 5am. Turns out that 5AM March 14 is about as dark at 4AM on March 7th was, and both are dark enough to make you think "surely there is some mistake here." But there was not, so off I went, spilling jelly all over my car while trying to eat in the dark.

There were lots of questions about waxing after an overnight low of 5 and a predicted high of 43 -- but they were not the kind of questions that could be answered by wax testing at 7am. I didn't really think about this until I was there at wax testing at 7am -- I had KR50 over a KR20 binder and it worked. Hmm. Now what do I do for ninety minutes? I got as sophisticated as throwing a KR60 in my belt as a safety net, and then spent the rest of time wishing I had slept in more.

Finally it was time for the big show, and the reduction from last week in college kids meant I actually deserved my second row (ten tracks wide) start. We went down to two tracks after 100 yards (the golf course conditions kind of dictated this...) and I was expecting pole-snapping chaos, but I was utterly disappointed as we fit together quite civilly.

For a k it was really, really chill, like everyone could see the front and we had 49k to go, or something. Unfortunately the guy ahead of me had gone with fish scales that were completely dysfunctional on the rock-hard ice track, so when the striding started he bottlenecked things really hard. I got around, crested the hill, and it was a total jailbreak, everyone was skiing away from me really quickly and that was the end of THAT!

Well, not really, getting detached from the lead group is generally a good thing for me. I settled in with a random mix of masters and got down to knocking off the k's. Unlike a skate marathon, drafting is much less of an issue in classic, so the "group" was far more fluid, until it ceased being a group entirely, and became just me skiing along with some guys up the trail and some other guys behind. This was about the 7k mark, so it looked like some good old lonely suffering was in my future.

Luckily it was an f-ing great day to be out skiing, to the point where even a guy like me, who sees the world in zeros and ones, could appreciate kicking up hills in a bomber track with bomber kick, in beautiful sun, at the base of the tallest mountain in the northeast.

Before I could introspect too deeply I crested "Coronary Hill" and started a 25-30 mph descent of its backside, and the bomber tracks became considerably more exciting than they were on the way up. One of my opponents who had previously disappeared up the trail was totally freaked by this and I went screaming past as he was hanging a ski out of the track to brake.

Shockingly, we started climbing shortly thereafter and he went blowing right back past me again. I assume we were both fairly displeased with this yo-yo-ing, as I don't like realizing how slow I must climb and no one likes getting smoked on the downhill. I assumed his clear aerobic superiority would eventually win out, but soon I rounded a corner to find him stopped entirely at a feed station, drinking heartily. If there's anything getting schooled by Ida taught me it's that losing time feeding is really demoralizing, so I skipped the feed entirely and went cranking by in a full-on assault against his morale.

He came back, of course, but this time was content to shadow me instead of flying right past, so I'll claim it worked. Eventually the steady climbing topped out and we headed into more transition-y type trails, up/turn/down/turn/up/etc, which is the closest anything in a 50k gets to being "good for me." So I did my thing for a while, and then next time I looked back he was gone. With more fast descending to end the first lap, I was definitely onto my solo adventure now.

The funny thing was that it didn't even feel like it had been very long. I guess that's how I know I'm getting to be a real master blaster, when you hit the 25k mark of a 50 and think to yourself, "that was easy." Or maybe it was just because I didn't get tricked into chasing someone too fast? In any case, at the halfway mark I was like "gosh, this is going well," until my dad skied up next to me and reported that "a big group of guys is about fifteen minutes ahead of you." That's the great thing about 50k "race pace," spectators can stride along next to you while having a conversation, especially when the focus of that conversation is how you're losing over 30 seconds a kilometer to the leaders.

So maybe that's why the first lap seemed easy.

But no one was anywhere near me -- the lap 1 split shows that I had a two-minute gap to 13th place ahead of me a 1:30 gap to 15th place behind me. Nothing to do but ski efficiently and hope my lack of classic-specific training doesn't sabotage me.

And of course, everything was going so well, until it wasn't. My arms were doing the predictable fade, so I was striding a lot of flat stuff, so my hamstrings were starting to fatigue, so my kick was getting worse, and then I missed a kick and my calf cramped and OKAY THIS CAN END NOW.

Still though, I made it to nearly the 40k mark before wishing for it to end, that's a new record for me.

There were only 3 really tough hills on the whole course and two of them came with about 3k to go. I was slipping and cramping and whinging my way up the last one when I decided to do a cursory check in the rear view, and who do I find but the poor descender/aerobic animal I'd last seen 90 minutes ago. A great way to really hammer home the "I want this to be done" feeling.

Luckily though, the lap ends with some pretty serious descending, which is how I'd gotten away from him in the first place, so I did a lot of unnecessary panicking and all-out hill running from there to the finish line. Don't look back, don't look back, just go, go go go, then I crossed the line and nearly did the Northug flop, expecting to see him hot on my heels. But no -- the gap was healthy. Should've looked back. I'd be at least 2% less sore today without going berserk for that last ten minutes.

Despite my 7 minute positive split for lap two, I ended up "only" 24 minute behind the race winner, that's a scant 16% back and also my best marathon finish ever. Let's not talk about the relatively weak competition or faster conditions, that makes me two for two on the don't-do-worse chart for the year and I'LL TAKE IT.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Obligatory March Training Post, Round 2

So last year I made fun of the interblogs with the Do It Yourself March Training Post. It was a huge success, except that it only alienated a few readers. Let's see if this year's edition can succeed in going even more negative!

Even Earlier, Much Whinier, Spring Training Post Template

Alright, it's early March and I am just SO SICK of winter. I'd like to [do something horrible] to that [unoriginal personification of a season]. I mean, it was [high number] degrees last week, and now it's only [seasonal average] degrees now, what gives? [Global warming|my trip to Tucson] can't get here soon enough! Every time I think [it's spring|winter ended 6 weeks early], it comes back with a [vengeance|completely normal weather pattern], like last week when we got [number less than 3] inches of snow. I just [don't understand|can't take it|love complaining]! I've been riding the [trainer|rollers] at night since [November|December|January] because [I hate my life|I paid for coaching], and let me tell you, I am really sick of [looking at my washing machine|sweating on my rug|frightening my roommates]. But it will all be worth it when I [burn out in May|kick all your asses] on my new [bike that is 1% better than my old bike|wheels that cost more than your car].

Although, I did manage to watch all [number] seasons of [tv series that would suck if I wasn't on a trainer], which you should totally check out.

So anyway, last weekend I did this [epic] mile ride with [link to blogger|link to picture|link to crossresults.com profile] and [someone you don't care enough about to link]. Of course [person you don't like as much] didn't have fenders, so I [ate|chewed|gargled] several pounds of road salt, but it was just great be outside.

Well, except for the [SUV|minivan] driver who was a total [expletive] in [town], I can't believe how impatient and unsafe some people out there are!! As if it's going to kill you to wait [10 seconds|10 minutes] behind [me|me and eight of my oblivious friends riding nine-abreast]. And when he finally quit honking and passed us, he only gave me [1 foot|6 feet] of space, god only know what would have happened if [he didn't know how wide his vehicle was|I randomly swerved across the road]!

Anyway, I didn't want this post to be [so negative|so long|published at all], but [other blog(s)] have been [noticing|complaining about|contributing to] the general lack of early-March content in the blogosphere. It's almost like [no one's racing|you can only write about the trainer so much|most bloggers aren't professional writers for a reason]! So here's your content. See you at [Wells Ave|King of Burlingame|the bar]...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rangeley Lakes Loppet Race Report

After an entirely ski-free weekend, I headed up to Rangeley to see what kind of fitness 10 days away from skate striding had left me with. I've had a secret goal (or did I forget about the secret part and mention it here? I can't remember) for the XC ski season that was "don't do worse in the marathons than you did last year," the reasoning being that if I can ride more without getting slower on skis then I must be getting faster all-around. That, or I've entered the magical master skier "lifetime of base" state of fitness where you can just bust out respectable 50ks regardless of training. Either way it sounds like a win to me.

Things got off completely on the wrong foot when I ran into Blazar in the parking lot and he was like, "wait, you're here?? I didn't see you on the prereg list." I came back with "of course I registered, don't be stupid," but then I started thinking about it some more and realized I probably never registered for this race. Bretton Woods and Stowe Derby had incentives for reg'ing early so I both did them long ago, online, and I guess I assumed I must've registered for Rangeley as well. But no such luck, and it was prereg only, so I headed into the yurt ready to bust a sob story of epic proportions on the poor ladies working registration. Luckily my excess of charm got me a bib before I had to start crying, either that or there was secret day-of registration. You know how these things go...

Now with a bib I headed to the start line, only to discover that I had taken two righty poles from the basement when I went to borrow Linnea's poles for the race. Disaster #2! For some reason I had decided to also throw my poles in the car at the last second, so this was nowhere as devastating as it should have been.

Anyway, eventually I was able to take my proclivity for race-day stupidity to the start line and get rolling. My new and questionably effective, always painful marathon strategy of "go out a bit fast" worked great because the first 3k are mostly downhill. I got into line around 30th place used my Weston skills to do absolutely no work until the first hill, where I found I was still just 15 seconds behind the leaders, and arguably part of the "lead pack." Awesome.

Obviously I had no business anywhere near something that could be termed a "lead pack" so I was happy to see it get broken in half on the first climb, with me in the wrong half. On the first descent I cruised up next to Luke just before a sharp turn. I helpfully pointed it out ("yo, sharp left") seconds before we got there and Luke rewarded me by trying to edge with his face about halfway around it. I barely escaped a similar fate while avoiding his wreckage and OH CRAP WE ARE DROPPED.

As an avid Westonite/bike racer, I recognized that the race was leaving me fast, so I'd better hit the jets and get back into the group. If it works at the 4k mark of a 7k Weston race, it should work at the 4k mark of a 50k, right?

Right. I gunned it for a few minutes and glided onto the back of a train of 5 or 6 college kids. The one on the back looked at me quizzically, and then said "are you Colin Reuter?" Turned out it was sensationalist blogger and alleged "huge baller" Nat Herz. We had a quick chat about being e-celebrities and then he went back to the front to take a pull, which is not something I would be doing under any circumstances.

Everyone knows that college skiers only do four things: sleep, skip class, drink beers, and kick my ass. It being a Saturday there's no way these guys were skipping class, and much to my chagrin no one was packing a PBR in their water bottle carrier, so that could only mean one thing: I was about to get my ass kicked.

It didn't take long -- we started climbing gradually, the draft started weakening and my heart rate started going up. We were still skiing at "only" my 20k pace so it seemed okay for quite a while, I started rationalizing about how my legs weren't really burning that bad, I got a little break when we hit a feed station. But I'm not as dumb as forgetting to register would suggest, so eventually I heeded the writing on the wall and dropped off the back.

Cresting the top, though, I got passed by a master who had no business being behind me and was workin it on the downhill. Like a true rouleur, I was able to chase back onto the peloton on the descent and we made contact with the collegiate party train just in time to come past my one and only fan, Blazar. Seeing me comfortably drafting five college guys, he declared that I was a "college kid dream killer," an awesomely wrong analysis of the situation. To be sure, someone's dreams were going to be killed the next time the trail pitched upward.

So I drifted off into no-man's-land once more, where I stayed until around 20k when Ida Sargeant caught me while I was eating a gel in an extremely clumsy fashion. I realized that hanging with the women's leader be a major step toward "not doing worse than last year" so I immediately got behind her and prepared to hang on as long as possible.

Sadly, part of being fast enough to get 12th at World Juniors means being smart enough not to tow random guys around for 50k, so after about a k she drifted to the side and looked over her shoulder expectantly. Given the choice between being a total dick and pretending to be as fast as an elite (female) collegiate skier, I wisely chose the latter.

So along we went, trading pulls for the next ten kilometers, while I tried to figure out which of us would get tired first: the person who trains year-round and races at a national level, or the person who has barely done 60 ski-specific hours this year. Yes, determining which of these individuals would have better endurance is truly a puzzler.

Around 30k I stopped pulling, and around 35k I waved goodbye to Ida's back and got down to sufferring through the last hour, in the rapidly slowing conditions with my rapidly failing muscles. I wasn't bonking or anything else that could be addressed, it's just that my brilliant plan of doing a ton of pullups didn't actually impact my muscular endurance one bit. So while I can do 12 pullups now, my arms were merely along for the ride, just like last year.

The good news was that working with Ida had opened up a big gap behind me, so I only lost one place in the last hour, despite checking over my shoulder several hundred times. I finished up 23rd overall and even crushed a few collegiate dreams (sorry, Luke), so I'm claiming I made my goal of "not worse than last year" and moving on.

I left before awards because I had 4.5 hours to drive, so I missed finding out that they had my time 10 minutes too fast (it was actually 2:36) and I had somehow won the senior class (ha, college kids are YOUNG!), and I probably missed a cool prize like maple syrup or something. But on the plus side, I got back to the tropics of Boston in time to say "hell yeah, let's go adapt some capillaries!" when Thom was organizing 70-mile-Sunday.

Proof that I took a pull! (Photo from Nat Steele)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How To Ride Otis

(Rosey was nice enough to write up my latest trip, so that freed me up from my intense e-commitments to write a less "this is what I did on Sunday" kind of entry.)

It's March again! That magical time where I stop training for ski races, but manage to hang onto ski fitness for another few weeks of mediocre 50k racing. This freedom from ski training (I was actually ski training at one point, despite what my results may indicate) mean it's time to make a trip to Otis AFB every chance I can get. I wrote about Otis last year, which has led people to think that I am some kind of Otis authority.

While I enjoy the perception that I have some kind of jedi-like knowledge of Otis, I'd like to dispell the myth that you need to be a jedi -- or know a jedi -- to ride there. After all, how hard could it be if the trail map looks like this:

Just commit that to memory and you're good to go!

Ok, so it looks pretty daunting. Otis is a small and confusing place to ride, sure, but at least it's not large and confusing, where getting lost would actually be a problem. When you ride Otis, you are always lost, but never really lost. It's a zen thing.

While I enjoy getting "be my Otis guide" requests, I only have so much free time (ok, a lot, but still), so I'm going to take the teach-a-man-to-fish route and teach you to be your own Otis guide, so you can go have sweet MTB rides even if you just lurk on this blog and have never met me in real life. Let's do it.

I made a map you can take with you, check it out:

You'll notice the map has no trails. Go look at the first picture again if you're trying to figure out why I didn't draw all the trails. There are so many trails at Otis, in various states of wear, that it is completely unfeasible to track where you are by looking at the map at each intersection. So take my "map," print it out, and stick it deep in your pack, where you won't be tempted to look at it unless you're taking a real break.

Here's what you do need to know -- the boundaries. They're labeled on the map and pretty straightforward. West edge is route 28, and there's a trail that runs the entire length of Otis right along the road. If you need to get home, head for the sound of traffic until you're at Rt 28, then take that trail south. The only trick is that "head west" can be pretty tough when the trails are that twisty. So it can take a while, but if you're diligent about heading toward the setting sun/sound of traffic, you can always get un-lost in, at most, half an hour.

The south boundary is a railroad track and Rt 151, pretty simple. The east boundary is the only tricky one -- it's the ill-defined edge of Otis Air Force Base, and the Massachusetts Veteran's Cemetery. Unlike the other boundaries, you do not want to actually run into this one, since bikers have been occasionally escorted off the base, and riding through a cemetery is just not cool. So if you find yourself thinking, "what is that large clearing with flowers in it?" or "what is that collection of buildings in the woods?" you'll know you're at the east edge.

Otis is deceptively small. The boundaries are pretty solid. Trust me, you can ride there without knowing where you are, and it will work out fine.

Once you know the boundaries, there's not much to do but just ride. You will hit a lot of intersections. DO NOT STOP. Have faith that all trails lead to awesome singletrack. Which way is the right way? ALL OF THEM.

It won't take long for you to have your first "have I been here before?" moment. Embrace it. Everything at Otis looks the same. I wracked my brain to try to come up with some landmarks, and I could barely think of six. One of them is a friggin' shirt on a tree. If you get to the top of a hill -- or a shirt on a tree -- grab my map and you should be able to locate yourself. This is potentially useful if you're trying to head into a given part of the trail system (or back to the car).

In general, though, you don't need to worry about where you are. You can try to skirt the edge (I strongly recommend the trail between the powerlines and Rt 28 at the north end, and the trail between the base and blue line south of Deer Horn Hill), or you can just loop around the middle. Riding the same trail more than once isn't a problem, because it's totally wicked mountain biking and you're having fun.

When it's thirty minutes before you want to be done, head south and/or west. Conveniently, this is the direction the sun sets in, but if you're really serious I guess you could bring a compass.

One final protip for maximizing your Otis ride -- in addition to the miles of singletrack, there's a lot of double-track ATV trail in there. It is straight, sandy, and boring. You'll end up on this stuff periodically, you can tell when you are because your endorphins will be at normal levels for the first time since you started riding. Don't fret! There's a million trails here. Keep your eyes peeled left and right and you can generally find a singletrack trail heading into the woods soon, or sometimes you can even spot one that's just a short walk through the woods away.

Important Legality Notice: Much of the woods covered by the Otis trails is part of Otis Air Force Base. From what I've heard, it's technically illegal to ride there. This is one of the many awesome effects of the Patriot Act, or so I've heard. Anyway -- you might be trespassing. Some of the time. Common sense suggests that riding around the woods isn't a big deal, regardless of which government (federal or state) owns it, which is probably why no one gets too worked up about it. But just so you know.

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