Although New York City was recently voted the best city in America for biking, it’s still not the easiest city for mountain biking. With a little bit of effort, though, and a short train or car ride, the trails of Long Island, New Jersey, and upstate New York are easier to get to than you think.
After a spring of road riding, Soho employee Kristen just completed her first mountain bike race of the season: Rumble in the Jungle, in West Milford, New Jersey, coming in 4th in the Pro/Cat 1 Women’s field.
So many things… At the beginning of every season, I have to re-learn the things I’ve conveniently forgotten. Like that racing is harder than I remember. That casually riding trails and racing are not the same thing. That course knowledge (or lack thereof) can be a defining factor. Things like nutrition and how I set up my equipment carry over more seamlessly from year to year. The main thing I learned from this race is that I need to get out on trails more, which is the real challenge living in Brooklyn.
What are you going to do to prepare for your next race?
Right now I’m focusing on building my fitness, because it’s still early season for me. I don’t do a lot of training through the winter — just enough to have a base come springtime. These days racing is something I do entirely for fun, so I’m not too rigid with my schedule. I do training rides 4-5 days a week and do things like yoga and strength training the rest of the time. I try to stay laid back about it, but when it comes time to do the work I’m very focused. I know how to get my head in it, so I feel like it’s quality over quantity these days.
What do you do in the city that helps you ride better on the trails?
In the city, training on the road is the obvious choice. So that’s what I do during the week. My schedule is a combination of structured intervals, group rides, and recovery rides, usually in Prospect and Central Park. Riding the road really helps fitness and endurance, so at least come race day my legs are ready. Then when I do get out on trails, I try to push the pace so I learn how my bike handles at speed. I’m lucky because my husband is my training partner and he takes really clean lines, so if I can follow him I’m having a good day.
What advice do you have for New Yorkers looking to spend more time on the trails?
I will say that even though it takes a little extra effort to get out to trails living in NYC, it’s totally worth it. We have such good riding within an hour or two of the city, and a lot of it is accessible by train. The local races are also really fun, so it’s actually a great place to be a mountain biker. If anyone has questions about local trails or races, I’m always happy to meet other mountain bikers, and they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.