Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wild Turkey

Tuesday, March 25 marks my return to riding since taking almost two weeks off the bike due to being sick. My previous ride on March 11 was my first this season up Flagstaff Mountain. It was an incredible ride. I felt strong, the view astounded; it was invigorating. A few miles in another rider passed me and called out "Allez, Allez!". A minute or two later I was back on his wheel and ended up passing him on the hill just before Lost Gulch Overlook. He was clearly a stronger rider (as his pace up to this point would confirm). He grumbled and passed me again right before he turned off at the parking lot. I kept going since I wanted the summit. It began to get much colder and there were vestiges of snow on the shoulders and sand over the road. The wall loomed as it always does, but even though my slog up it was slow it was at least bearable. I've done worse. This time I could at least find some sort of rhythm.

Last week I had the Niner cables trimmed back, the crushed cone replaced on the front wheel and the bars and steer tube cut. For whatever reason these improvements have made a big difference in the way the bike looks and my excitement for riding it. Expect a photo later on in which this can be seen.

Today I managed a 3 1/2 hour effort from home to Heil Valley Ranch and the new Wild Turkey trail. I was surprised to arrive at the mouth of Lefthand canyon in 45 minutes, my usual time when riding the road bike. I definitely paid the price for this pace with slowness on the trail though. Wild Turkey however does not disappoint. Being a new trail and not totally broken in I think it still offers some of the best terrain near Longmont. At almost 2 1/2 miles it has enough variety to be interesting and works well as an out and back should one choose to ride it like that. I think I was on trails for around an hour and 50 minutes, taking Wapiti to Wild Turkey (out and back), Ponderosa ccw and a return on Wapiti. I was in bad form out there regarding my fitness (at least in terms of speed. I think I was riding technically proficient). I'm sure I could blame some of it on my time away and on illness. This was the third real mountain ride on the Niner and by far my best experience on this bike so far. With such rocky terrain I hoped this ride would demonstrate something of the capabilities of 29" wheels. They definitely rolled over the scrabble and smoothed out both climbs and the descents. The fork is a big improvement over the SID as well and that helped manage the rocks. I was surprised at how fast I could go on the rolling terrain and the downhills. On rides at Heil in the past my hands got so numb I could hardly grab the brakes. On this bike I always felt in control and I could push it over things I would have slowed for previously. The thought did cross my mind that 29er riders warn of this heightened confidence and the ultimate crashing betrayal, so I kept it within reason, but the differences between the 26" and the 29er are definite. Once again a decent ride puts so much of life in perspective. The adrenaline boost is fantastic, and despite and maybe because of nagging soreness in my legs I'm ecstatic about the day.

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