[formerly: 'Bouncin' on a Big Bike']
My rides have been few and far between this year, but last Saturday I got to head up the the SMBA trails in Saratoga Springs for their annual 'Mix-Up the Dirt' (aka 'MUD') festival, where beers, burgers, and bikes were in abundance. It was really a great event, with well over a hundred people there, two or three different shops, representatives from the Luna Chix team, a couple of guys from the White Face downhill park, Sigma Systems accessories, plus the Trek/Gary Fisher demo truck. I'm not sure how much schwag the different groups handed out, but there was a ton, including tires, pumps, lights, and even a complete bike. Not bad at all.
The SMBA trails are tight, rocky, technical masterworks of trailbuilding, and the lingering moisture from the rain the night before had everything covered with a thin slime. I don't know where beginners -- and even intermediates -- go to ride around the area, but they don't go here: SMBA serves up the beatdowns for anyone not on their game.
Before I hit the trail I wandered over to the Trek tent and pick me up a big helping of bounce: a full-XTR Trek Remedy with 6 inches of travel front and rear. Even with this generous helping of rubble-eating goodness the bike with still under 30 pounds, and while that didn't make it Hollywood-approved, it still weighed a reasonable amount.
This is a lot of bike. I haven't ridden with gears in quite some time, and I've never owned a full-suspension bike, so this thing took some getting used to, and I'm not sure that I ever got it. Don't get me wrong, this is a great bike for someone, I'm just not sure that I'm that person. I felt more like I was guiding a couch through the woods than mountain biking, and there was nothing about the thing that you could call 'flickable,' but it would be great fun on a wide-open, fast trail with lots of drops and rubble. On the tight, slow trails of SMBA it didn't exactly shine, for while it liked to eat up the rocks, it wasn't nearly as nimble as I would have liked. SMBA has a lot of little-ring plodding through rock fields and quick changes of direction, and the Remedy would much rather have been eating up the high speed descents in Fruita than guiding me deeper into the forests of the Northeast.
That said, gears are nice. Suspension is nice. After returning the Remedy I got to spend some time on a Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er, a XC full-suspension rig. Me likey. Me likey a lot. I don't know when my finances will allow me to have that kind of ride in my stable, but it was sure nice to be able to down shift when climbs got steep, or sit down through moderate rock gardens rather than stand and pump through.
Feeding the desire for a new ride was the bike weighing contest hosted by EMS. The idea was to guess the weight of your bike, and
while I was pretty close on the ol' Ferrous, I was disappointed to find out that she tips the scale at well over 27 pounds: 27 pounds and 9 ounces, to be exact. That was only an ounce less than a friend's new Stumpy, and even more than this kid's rad Astana-approved trike. (Kidz these days, what with their trikes and their casts, I tells ya...)The Stumpy seems like an ideal platform for the area, by the way, as it manages to balance significant travel (5 inches front and rear) with light weight and trail bike geometry. (Well, it least the freewheelin' Gary didn't have any trouble flogging it around the trail.)
All-n-all not a bad day, truth be told. I determined that a) bikes are fun, b) I like to mountain bike, c) I am out of shape, d) my bike is heavy, e) hot dogs taste good, even when burnt, f) trees hurt when you hit them, no matter how much suspension you have, g) rocks are hard, h) I need to stop making lists. As I cruised back to Albany the skies opened up and the rest of the weekend was spent dodging rain, but this allowed me to lick my wounds and cruise the internet for the light parts that I now 'need.'
Finally, a take-away shot from the trails to give you an idea of what they're like. Bob was happy to be rolling around on a long-travel Ellsworth. The pic, isn't great, as I caught him just after he landed the drop, but hopefully it'll give you some flava.