Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mountain Biking (and walking downhill) @ China Camp State Park

I've been thanking my readers a lot lately but perhaps never have I felt so grateful than for the supportive comments on my last post.  It was difficult to share what's been going on here on the home front.  And this is an issue with no quick fix, no perfectly written Hollywood ending.  It's a lot more fun to write about my fitness challenges and triumphs.  Which is mostly what I'll be doing since I'm not turning my blog into an analysis of the trials of marriage, thank goodness.  Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the support, advice, feedback through comments here, on Facebook and for the messages you've sent me.  I know people get something out of my blog but I get so much more. 

Moving right along...yesterday (Saturday) was a rest day from exercise.  I got to sleep in since I woke up alone at our friend's house.  I came home in time to take the kids to a birthday party for one of Marek's friends, Kellan.  I can't believe he and his buddies are all turning 4.  I guess there's a reason people with grown kids will longingly say, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."  We're planning a small party for Marek in March. He's very aware of his birthday this year and keeps threatening to not invite us when we disappoint him.  I remind him I'll be bringing the cake and that usually settles it.

Anyway, I was pretty hungry when I got to Kellan's party and felt like I spent the whole time eating.  Pizza, party snacks, cupcakes.  There came a time when I was feeling pretty full but I kept right on eating.  I was aware that I was full, aware that I shouldn't really be eating anymore, but that didn't stop me.  What can I say?  I'm not always going to make the best choice.  I was in a somewhat melancholy mood and I think it lessened my motivation to eat right.  By the time we left my head had started hurting too.  Ugh, a headache.  I assumed it was stress related but around 3pm I realized, I never drank my morning coffee.  Duh!  Dinner was leftover meat loaf, red potatoes and broccoli.  And a cup of hot chocolate later. And let me not forget the chocolate chips I kept getting into (they are all gone now, which is a good thing).  My carb/sugar mission still seems to be going strong.

Today, Sunday, I took the kids to the park for a playdate with some of their preschool buddies.  My legs and back were so sore from my workouts on Thursday and Friday that I was practically limping.  That's what happens when you don't lift weights for practically two weeks.  But I managed to survive the park.  For the afternoon Miguel and I had secured someone to watch the kids so we could take our planned mountain bike ride.

It was a gorgeous day and I was so looking forward to getting on my mountain bike for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long.  Then as we were loading up our bikes Miguel tells me he's got "a little challenge" for me.  I've heard plenty about him and his buddies' epic mountain bike rides so I'll admit I was a bit scared.  But I figured what's the worst that can happen?  It wouldn't be the first time I walked my mountain bike up some too-steep climbs.  Good thing I'd taken a couple ibuprofen to ease my sore muscles.

We get out to China Camp and almost immediately we're riding uphill.

Me:  "This isn't so bad."
Him:  "Not at first, but talk to me after 30 minutes."

Eek!  But you know what?  It wasn't so bad.  I had to work, and I was pretty darn slow, but I felt plenty capable the whole time.  Of course this was nowhere near the crazy rides Miguel does with his friends, but the only times I had to put my feet down were navigating some tight corners with a lot of rocks.  The fact that I'm out of practice on the mountain bike was glaringly obvious.  I felt really shaky at first, but found my balance before too long.  That said, I actually screamed with fear going over a few very rocky, rooty, rut-worn spots.  Thank goodness I never took a dive.  We reached a fork in the road and Miguel said we could go left and head down to the car, or go right for a little more climbing and, "a beautiful view."  

You know which way we went.  More climbing, but still not too steep for me to handle.  Just before the peak we turned onto a paved road that quickly became ridiculously steep, and this was after riding uphill for 30+ minutes.  I managed the hill fine until the pavement turned into gravel and then I was done.  I had to walk my bike up the last few hundred feet.  And then we reached the top.  He wasn't lying, the view was nearly 360° and included the bay, mountains and plenty of green.  Of course I had to have a picture snapped. 

China Camp
I was feeling pretty happy with myself as we took in the surrounds.  Here's a satellite image of our route, which gives you an idea of the view.

And then we headed down the mountain.  It wasn't long before fear had me off my bike and walking.  And there I'd been worried about the uphill.  Ever since I rode up Marshall Wall I've been nervous about going downhill.  Today I couldn't seem to go slow enough on the steep parts (that's "steep" by my definition).  Between my hand getting sore holding the brake, and the rocky, stumpy, rut-worn parts of the trail - well, I had to get off my bike and walk it a few times.  When I almost tripped and fell while walking I knew I was doing the right thing.  Know your limits.  

Miguel found it to be quite entertaining that I was walking downhill so he snapped a picture.

How come hills never look as steep in pictures as they did in real life?  The good thing is I only had to do this a few times and I completely enjoyed the rest of the ride.  Toward the end I started feeling a bit more confident and picked up a tiny bit of speed, but still going pretty slow.  My average moving speed over the whole ride was only 5mph!  I can run faster than that.  But not with this elevation profile I can't.

China Camp Loop Elevation Profile
How cool is that? Full Garmin stats here for anyone that's interested.  Well, that's it.  Shared an energy bar on the way home and probably didn't drink enough water today.  For dinner I made an Italian chicken recipe with red bell peppers and onions.  I had part of a breast with rice and broccoli.  As soon as I'm done here I'm going to make a cup of hot chocolate and we're going to watch Episodes 2 & 3 of Game of Thrones.  And there you have it, a busy weekend with probably too much food and a nice bit of the outdoors.  As far as calories, I'm not going to worry about it, I have the work week to balance things out.  Hope you had a chance to get outdoors this weekend too!  Unless you live in blizzard country, in which case I hope you stayed bundled up by a warm fire.  Oooh, that sounds lovely too.


  1. Woah! That's some elevation there, especially for a first time ride in a long time. Proud of you for making it. I hope you guys can find some more things to do that maybe are a little more equal. In the men time, walk into that gym this week knowing that you killed that hill! xo

  2. I usually like to go downhill fast (on roads it freaks my husband out)...but mountain biking downhill freaks me out...I would have been walking also!

  3. Wow that elevation profile is impressive and scary! The only way I can get a hill like that around here is on the treadmill. Great ride!

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