So I finally took the Kona Hei Hei 2-9 Deluxe out yesterday. Went to the Tree Farm to avoid the hunting grounds of ILRA like originally planned. I wanted to do some open trail testing before trying to squeeze that bike thru The Farm but what better way to learn than to throw yourself into the fire. I used to be able to do 3 continuous laps at that place at 48 minutes a piece....when I was in tip top shape. Those numbers are what gaged my fitness level for my laps.
First lap I spent learning how to steer the tall tires and wider handlebars. Plus I hadn't been on that trail in over a year so I took it easy since there are a handful of blind turns at that place. I did lose my chain once over the large log pile. I had to stop and put it back on. A little later it came off again but I was able to pedal that one back on with the crankarm. Trail was in great shape and I managed a cautious 53 minute lap. Not bad all things considered.
Second lap I pushed it a little harder and really started to work the bike thru the turns to see what it could really do. I started to really enjoy the big wheels because a lot of those little roots and bumps seemed to disappear. Even the log piles were easily soaked up and I didn't loose momentum going over them. On two corners I went into a power slide on the front wheel but I don't blame the tires for that. It was more my error and misjudgement with the new bike. I was able to ride it out so kudos to the Racing Ralphs for hanging on for me. I could feel the chain bouncing around a lot, off my ankle half the time, so when the trail got bouncy I just shifted into a larger gear to open the derailuer up and tighten the chain. It was a little more work to ride those sections in a larger gear but it kept the chain on. Got back to the trail head and the clock said 51:20.....hmmmm felt like I was going faster than that.
I rolled thru the parking lot to go back to my car to call it a day but I still had a full bottle so I said f##k it, turned around and reset the clock for another lap. I haven't ridden over 2 hours since May so I was not sure how this third lap would go, especially after the mid point of the trail. But I was immediately in go mode and was determined to break this lap under 50. All of a sudden the bike and I were working together really well. Just like my last full suspension Kona it seemed the faster you went the better the bike responded to your movements. I started pinning turns and my shift timing was more precise. Unlike the last two laps, I seemed to be in the right gear at the right time and I was flowing with the trail again. At mile marker 6 my legs started to feel the effort I was asking out of them. I was good on calorie and liquid intake but like I said, my legs have not been worked this long for some time now and they weren't happy anymore. Instinctively my mind switched from go mode to attack mode, as if I was in a race. The trail was not busy at all so I had open trail to burn thru. The longer I went on the more the pain in the legs increased. "No Pain" I kept repeating to myself every time I had to make a short climb. Those hurt the most. "No Pain" I said again as I hit the stretch that we call the 5 minute mark because that's where we know it's almost exactly 5 minutes to the end of the trail. I was cutting it close. I neglected to take my last swig of fluid because I was that tight on time. Only 5 minutes to go....I should be okay. Kept my focus and tore thru the rest of the trail. Many times my handlebars coming millimeters from clipping a tree (still geting used to wider handlebars for the 29er). One wrong move, one bad shift, one overshot corner and I wouldn't make it. Rolled to the end of the trail where the gravel meets the pavement of the parking lot. Looked down and my computer read 49:54. That's more like it!
I was pleased that I was able to get that much out of my legs on such short notice. As far as my overall conditioning, I am good right now at places like The Farm that don't require much climbing. But for not riding a single mile in June or July and missing half of August I was very happy with that outing. Hopefully I will be able to build on this and continue to make progress in my gains.