Fun, challenging, sometimes scary! Time to step it up a notch- at least for me as a beginner rider.
SALA, Sweden. June 2021.
Variation demands you practice what you've learned
My MTB journey needs to improve, I thought. Its one thing to read, watch videos, listen to pods about MTB, and another thing to actually get out there and do it! The will to do it is alive and kicking, but some insecurities still kept me from fun trails. Speaking of which, we got a new trail in town, but unfortunately there's just no flow there. I was looking forward to cycling there, but it proved to be too har to cycle for me, despite it being marked as a "blue" trail. There's just no relief there, and it proved to be nothing for this beginner rider. I like variation, specially if there is flow involved, yes, long parts of it :) Well, you know, we all like to imitate our YouTube heroes from time to time, at least "believe" we're doing that. So, I made a list with places I want to visit for me and for the blog, and the first one is called Knektleden in Sala. It is a trail they have made through a former silver mine. Time to practice what I've learned! Variation is fun, but it is also challenging!
Start, flow at once, I love it! Then came a little uphill and after, oh my, flow again! Then there came a world of rocks and roots, sharp turns to keep one awake, and then...you guessed right: more flow!
I gathered all information I could about the place, read in a magazine about it and it said the trail was good for beginners! Time too download the GPX file from trailforks, they've did a great job with this thing and its proven useful even here in Sweden! The only drawback was that I then realised it was a red marked trail. I've tried to avoid these kind of trails thinking it would be too much for me as a novice and very heavy diabetic rider. Så, hello anxiety my old friend, I've come to talk with you again...But, this time you're not paralysing me. I'm going in! I'm gonna do this! Got my best metal playlist going on, bike on top of the car, and off to the short drive to Sala.
Start, flow at once, I love it! Then came a little uphill and after, oh my, flow again! Then there came a world of rocks and roots, sharp turns to keep one awake, and then...You've guessed right: more flow! I have no dropper saddle post on my bike, and it is a hardtail XC bike more keen on gravel roads than real trails. It must be so much fun to ride a proper trail bike on this type of terrain, but while I wait for one for the blog I've gotta use what's at hand! So, break, gas again, decide over the bike, ride the bike don't let it take you for a ride, find the sweet spot for placing your weight while riding, here comes a drop, heels down, weight backwards, climb...walk a bit, and find that flow again! Sweat, lactic acid and a heck of a bunch of darn mosquitos all over you anytime you stop! A perfect summer day despite that fact that the sun was enjoying a game of hide and seek way too much!
A beautiful MTB smörgåsbord
Here I go with another food analogy, I know, but I love food! Its neither good nor bad, it's just one of those things of life that just is what it is - no need to demonise it. The Knektleden is an MTB smörgåsbord, a buffet of tasty bits in which everyone can find what they like, from beginners to more experienced riders! It was hard to cycle without stopping to take pictures, film, be amazed at the different sites, enjoy beautiful birdsongs and, if you're lucky, see a deer or two. When I came to the raw rock garden I could swear I was in a old Star Trek show (You know, the real deal with Nimoy as Spock). I just had to throw the back on my back and go explore the surroundings!
All in all this was a great experience that proved to me I shouldn't be scared of trying new trails even if they're marked red! I also became more confident in my riding skills (Thanks Youtube, Seth's Bike Hacks, PinkBike) and hydration/nutrition strategies, after all I'm also a diabetic. For the record, I ride with a hydration pack by Osprey and carry Dextrosol and Swedish bread sandwiches in it no matter what distance I'm riding.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this post and feel encouraged to get out there and hit some of your local trails. If you visit the site vastmanland.se you will find many other exciting locations to visit. Please name us if you leave a comment or ask questions there. Thank you! Ebbe Silva. Your rookie fat MTB rider. XL Biking