Monday, May 12, 2008

High Drive Flowers and Mountain Bike 1st Impressions

This morning, Mr Evil Elf reported on the flowers gracing the High Drive trails. I'd have to say the Elf under-reported this particular event. I tried to capture as much flower as I could with my phone-cam... but the real sensation here is riding through the wonderful fragrance. These are my new favorite flowers. Wow.

I took my newly-built-up mountain bike on the maiden ride today. It was the post-build-shake-down: just a quick loop on the trails. Last time I rode this bike on these trails was about 3 years ago when the bike was built-up as a single speed.

My general impressions on the bike:
  • It sucks a ton of energy out for very little return. Riding up to the trail head where I got on the trails is a mile of pavement. It's a stretch I ride all the time, so I know how it *should* feel. Hauling this turd up there was surprisingly sluggish.
  • Very slow handling. I ride these trails all the time. But I'm always on a road-ish bike. And all of my bikes have low or medium trail, so the handling is quick and responsive. My guess is that this mountain bike, like most mountain bikes, has a trail somewhere in the high 60's or in the 70's. And with the super turd tires. Gawd. What a dog. It's great for crushing down the trail, but it doesn't respond to finesse. You gotta man handle it.
  • It's fun to have a huge bike under you that you don't really have to ride lightly on. One reason I like to ride road-ish bikes on trails is that it's fun to test my skill on different surfaces and technical sections. But part of that "under biking" is protecting the rims and basic integrity of the bike, so you have to "ride light." On the mountain bike, you can just let go. I was swooping a bit more than I do normally and even attempting wee bits of air on the "give-me" bumps.
  • V-brakes make so much sense on these bikes. A monkey could set them up properly and they stop like no body's business.
  • I need to fuss with the bars. I need to put bar-ends for better/more hand positions.
  • Even though the first two bullets are long bitchy snobby observations, I do think I'll enjoy riding this bike.

After I got home, I told Maddie about the flowers over dinner. As soon as we were done with dinner we hit the trails. Maddie is a huge sucker for flowers. She went bonkers, she noted that, "it's like a thousands little sun shines." Indeed.


EvilElf said...

You are right. I did under-report it. My cell phone camera did a lousy job capturing the yellow expanses while I was running the trails. Your pictures, on the other hand, look most excellent! Thanks for snapping these beautiful photos. Isn't it amazing how everything is blooming at once?


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the 90's John! I was wondering if you'd go the V-brake route, the mech discs are even easier to set up. I was on the bluff Saturday and I think this is the best time of the year up there.I love the arrowleaf balsamroot and the indian paintbrush. Ready for Beacon?

Apertome said...

Beautiful shots.

Yes, mountain bikes feel sluggish when you're used to road bikes, but for me it depends on where I'm going to be riding. It's worth the extra weight and slow tires when you're riding on twisty, rocky singletrack. There are a lot of places where road bike tires could easily get stuck between cracks. And some of the multi-use (read: horse) trails around here really call for thick, knobby tires and at least a suspension fork.

Basically if you can somewhat comfortably ride a roadish bike on a trail, it's probably not the best place for a mountain bike.

John Speare said...

Anon: must be Wade. The 90's are something man! I'm ready for Beacon. I just rode up the Highdrive trails from downtown. What a work out man.

Apertome: we'll see how this shakes out. So far handling the bike on the slow technical stuff is just super difficult with such slow turning. But bombing down drops is a ton of fun. It's a trade off I guess. Regardless, I'll be doing some more trail riding over the next few weeks.

John Speare said...

Oh -- and climbing is so easy on this thing. It just digs in and goes straight up. Of course ridiculously low gearing helps.

aaron said...

Why did you choose to rebuild it with gears? Did you need to shift to get the tank up a hill? I was considering turning my old aluminum softride MTB into a single speed, but now that I read you're going back I wonder... will I like it?

Can't wait for the flowers to bloom on the trails here in Wisconsin...

John Speare said...

Aaron: If you've not built up a single speed, I think it's worth trying. The simplicity is nice. I've not had a mountain bike for about 3 years -- so for me this is really about going back to a mountain bike again rather than rebuilding with gears. I still have a fixed road-y bike... in fact, until recently, the fixed road-ish bike was my trail bike.