For the past couple of years, I've been an MTBNJ forum member (my username, shockingly, is 1speed ...) I joined up there after being a regular user of the Dirt Rag forums for a couple of years. That forum kind of died after a controversy led to a couple of regular posters being banned. They had a "politics" section and that led to some pretty passionate arguments where people sometimes crossed the line on acceptable behavior. I pretty much stayed away from that topic when I was there (never quite understood its place in a mountaibiking forum) but the result of the "bannings" seemed to be that a lot of the other users reacted negatively to what they felt was censorship and left of their own accord. And eventually, the number of posts dropped quite a bit and I guess the magazine made up their minds to discontinue it altogether. I hadn't used it in a year or so when that happened, so I can't say for sure exactly what led to that decision but I have to believe it had to do with a lack of interest.
Anyway, when I used that forum, it was usually to find out about places to ride, scheduled events, that sort of thing. So when it started to wane, I looked elsewhere and stumbled across MTBNJ. I grew up in central Jersey (Monmouth County) so it seemed like a good fit. And it's been all good so far -- I've met a bunch of great folks over there, ridden and raced with many of them, and learned a lot about different races to try, places to ride, training ideas, and even different beers to try (!)
Recently, after being off the bike and more or less a useless lump on the couch for a few weeks and facing a rough time in my first race that's coming up, I was kind of feeling at a loss as to how to get myself going. I knew I needed to get out and ride more and harder, but (being a jackass) I always do better when I a carrot is dangled in front of me.
Enter MTBNJ -- on Thursday, I got that carrot in the form of a month-long online race. And that was just what I needed.
Every winter, the folks over there crowd-source their motivation for off-season training by hosting an online race where they award points for number of rides, length of rides, etc. The site's official team also sponsors an early-season short-track series, but they were forced to cancel the series this season because of venue access (actually, it seems they've worked out venues for a few of the races now so it turns out the entire series won't be cancelled after all - definitely worth checking out if you want some early season challenges.) As a consolation, one of the regular users set up a mini-online race for the month of March. I don't usually participate in the winter-long race (and couldn't have this winter since I didn't have a Garmin between August and February) but this was a perfect way to ensure I'd make every effort to get out and ride as often as possible, so I signed up! And to make it a real challenge, I even signed up in the pro category, which means the number of miles I'll have to ride will be substantial just to stay in it. (And now that I have the new Garmin 510, I'm even able to prove I rode, too!)
The rules for the contest are pretty straightforward. Honestly, I could care less how it turns out. I have no idea if I can be competitive, but that's not the point anyway. Just being in the contest gives me motivation to push my training a little harder, and ride for a little longer more often this month. I've been out each of the last two days, and I'm really curious to see how many days I can ride this month.
|Riding along Route 76 in Belmont ... apparently near Roosevelt Blvd.|
|Falls Bridge connect Wissahickon to Belmont|
|The trail was in pretty good shape today ... that's not something you can expect from every trail right now|