Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A common theme?

Seems I can't head outside these days without finding a big mountain to climb. When I head to the Northeast Kingdom with a full squish mountain bike, of course I must ride up the paved auto road to the summit of Burke Mountain. That is half the point of driving that far to ride trails.

After two long days on dirt with bikes, I thought it'd be a good idea to get some hiking vertical in my legs with a planned presidential traverse coming up. Those not in the know question me, "you ride and run 600 hours per year, how could you not be in shape for a hike?" Well, there's something called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Some folks are more susceptible to it than others. I seem to be very susceptible to it. Another cyclist commented that hiking induced DOMS wasn't a problem until he took up cycling. There may be a connection.

Anyway, DOMS is typically caused by eccentric muscle contraction when you are not conditioned for it. Cycling, and most running on level ground, are almost all concentric muscle contraction. Eccentric is where the muscle is being stretched apart while trying to contract. This happens when hiking or running down steep grades, where the muscle must absorb energy, not produce energy.  I rarely do this, thus a long hike with many thousands of feet of descending would destroy me.

So on a whim I hit Mt Tripyramid from Waterville Valley on Sunday. I knew only where the trail was, nothing about it. I had no idea how steep and terrifying both the climb and descent were. 3000ft of descending at snail pace was still enough to give me debilitating DOMS 36hrs later. Two days later, my colleagues are making fun at how I'm walking. The presidential traverse has 3x the climbing and descending. Glad I'm finding out now how much conditioning I lack with barely any time to do something about it.

On Monday, when my company was off for 4th of July, I thought a nice, mellow, flat MTB ride would sooth my destroyed legs. I drove over to nearby FOMBA trails, with no intention of riding the flowless singletrack there. No, I was thinking more like a loop around Tower Hill Pond on fire roads and maybe out and back on snowmobile corridor Trail 15 to Bear Brook.

On the bike, I didn't feel half bad. Conditioning and all concentric muscle use make all the difference. It was a rather nice, albeit hot day. The trails were dry, deserted and riding well.  Before I knew it, I found myself at the summit Fort Mountain well past the far side of Bear Brook State Park! How did that happen on a "recovery" day?  My name is Doug Jansen, and I'm a cycloholic.

Three days in a row, a stupid steep mountain was climbed. I am a sucker for great views. I don't know of any mountain in this area that provides a better vista than Fort Mountain. On clear days, you can see Mt Washington from there. It was a white knuckle descent down the 20% loose gravel grade back to Bear Brook. So much for a recovery ride.  Hopefully by next weekend my DOMS is gone and I can start all over again.

Three days, three mountains.
At work, these would be spectrum analyzer plots...

Bear Hill Pond in Bear Brook State Park. A couple was swimming here. Hope I didn't
interrupt anything...

Summit of Fort Mountain looking toward White Mountains. Humid hazy day.

Blueberries on summit of Fort Mountain

Looking northwest from Fort Mountain

Blueberries along Hemlock Trail in Bear Brook. There are acres and acres of berries like this.
Surprised not a soul was out picking.

1 comment:

PatrickCT said...

Doug - ah, I just happened to do the presi traverse last weekend (roughly 20 miles and 9k of ascent, then descent)...did an ascutney 'triple' a few times as DOMs preventive prep (weathersfield, brownsville and windsor trails - about 15 miles and 7,300 vert)...if you haven't done the presi before, the rock-to-rock nature of the northern presidentials is a special added factor - have those stabilizer muscles in order, too... Patrick