I just got back from 4 days of mountain biking at Cuyuna Lakes Recreation Area and had a few lessons that I learned in the process of a lot of fun. This was my third time riding Cuyuna, but my first multi-day visit. I did some riding with my wife and kids along with some of my own riding. I rode both my Fat Bike and my full suspension Cross Country Bike and put in just shy of 90 miles of riding over the 4 days.
Up until now, I really hadn’t spent much time on my Fat Bike (Specialized Fatboy Expert) since winter. I took the Fat Bike out one of the mornings and realized what a great workout and different riding experience it was as a summer cross country trail bike. The bike is fully rigid, so it is not nearly as cushy of a ride as my full suspension cross country bike (Felt Edict NINE 3), but I run the tire pressure down to around 10 psi and it soaks some of the smaller stuff.
Bottom line is the Fat Bike is definitely more of a work out and putting 20 miles in the Fat Bike is like riding 30 plus miles on my Cross Country Bike. I can get a better workout in a shorter period. The Fat Bike also seems to work out the upper body more since it is fully rigid and it takes some additional upper body effort over the rough stuff. Not to mention, there is a lot more rotational mass to throw around the corners that later made my 29er cross country bike feel like a 26 inch skinny in a corner.
Some other notes about the Fat Bike, is that I feel like I can climb anything with it. It’s a lot of tire to get rolling but once it’s rolling you can gear down, stand up and just grind up any grade you want. It feels like the traction is unlimited, even in the loose stuff. Then there are the corners… I definitely feel like I can push the corners much harder on it. All around, it was a joy to ride on the trail in the summer and I will be spending more time on it for both training rides and fun.
Up until last year, I had always worn fingerless gloves. After a minor low speed endo while riding Porcupine Rim out in Moab last spring, where I shaved the skin off 2 of my finger tips, I decided full finger gloves might be a good idea. Over last year, I got used to them and actually came to prefer them. They seem to fit a bit nicer and don’t move around as much. That being said, I rode with my fingerless gloves again and after going back and forth, the heat dissipation is so much nicer on the fingerless gloves that I will probably switch back to fingerless for racing and hot weather.
I seem to struggle with hydration in the past and would cramp up really bad. I had started taking a Calcium supplement the last few months, along with using Himalayan salt on my eggs in the morning and my body seems to be absorbing fluids much better. Cramping has just about disappeared completely. I bring this up, because it was fairly hot the one day that I put in around 35 miles and I didn’t need to drink nearly as much water during that ride as I have in the past and never really felt like I was getting dehydrated at all.
This is really good, because during the Lutsen 99er last year, I went through three of my 100 oz Camelbak water bladders, plus a water bottle. I think I can get away with much less water during the Lutsen this year. Also, I am sure that the weather will be hot for the Maah Daah Hey and having a well hydrated body going into the race will be massive benefits over what I am used to.
I usually struggle with recovery because I have a hard time holding back sometimes on a ride. I’ll end up overtraining and just tearing down instead of getting stronger and then have to take a couple days off. Now that my kids can handle the single track, I can get out on a recovery ride and pace myself behind them. It’s just enough to keep the muscles moving, but not working hard. It is only a matter of time though, before they make me work for it to hang with them… That being said, riding with them on the trails is teaching me how to lay back, have fun and just cruise through the trails.
Cuyuna is an extremely fun place to ride for all levels of riders. There is a paved path, some beginner trails and some good technical stuff for Cross Country riders. I spend a lot of time on my Road Bike since I can ride from the house and don’t always get the fun of just getting out on the trails. Spending a few days camped trail side really added some fun back into the sport for me and the family since we didn’t have to pack up and drive 45 minutes to a trail. We had a great time and will definitely plan future trips back to Cuyuna for a few days of riding.