After writing about my love for returning rigid every once in a while just to hone in the skills, I accidentally rode Laurel Mountain with my suspension locked out, and it really hurt.

I was clattering along getting the crap beaten out of me, not even realizing that I had left it locked out from the last ride in which I finished with a long road climb. Usually my bike is left in the squishy mode, so I thought that I was just really sucking that badly. I bumped along, rattling my porcelain crowns, wondering why this was so exhausting.

It was after most of the climb was done that I finally noticed why my shoulders were throbbing and my neck was wrecked. A simple twist of the valve fixed my suspension and, of course, my attitude. Suddenly I was able to float a few rocks and jump a log or two without being rudely interrupted by the saddle in my bum.

Maybe it’s better to ride rigid when you actually know that your bike is in rigid mode. Gearing up to compress and sail over something offers much more air-time when the bike is actually loading first. I’m here to say that the landing is far different when the expectations are for a gentle bounce, but the reality is being catapulted from the exposed root that has now rearranged your inner ear due to sudden impact.

I was also sore the next day. Speaking of sore, it’s not a good idea to “ride it out” after a particularly hard workout involving the core and upper body. A recent Parkour class had me so sore that I was unable to engage my core during a ride two days later. My shoulders were sore also, which prevented me from wanting to experience the burn they exhibited every time I needed to maneuver the bike over anything. In my mind, a good cardiovascular flush would rid my muscles of the lactic acid forming pools of misery.

Maybe a massage would have been better than a ride. I was sloppy, lazy and whiney. But maybe I was also a lot stronger after that. After all, when the opportunity to ride arises, it’s silly to ignore it. There’s no telling when it will happen again.

There’s also something to be said about riding even when you don’t want to just due to the Fun Factor. Flying through the woods with a giddy smile on the lips and rolls of laughter bubbling from the belly cannot be compared to having a rest day, no matter how sore and tired you are. The trick is to get the bike and gear into the back of the truck early in the day before too many thoughts can impede good decisions!