For Better or Worse
After a busy morning of laundry and replacing an outlet that got fried during the wind storm/power outage last week, I caved to lust and took the Big Mama out on the trails of Boyce Park. I swore I would NOT let myself get layered up for another so/so ride in the snow with frozen bottles and numb fingers, but that's JUST what I did this a.m.
This would be my first ride on the Big Mama. I wish the ride conditions would have been better so as to really get a feel for what she has to offer, but it was still nice to get her out on some single track.
I did make some observations during the ride- The first thing I noticed was how "centered" and "neutral" my position felt. I am WAY more stretched out on the Dos Niner (which will be changing soon as I plan to shorten my stem). The trails were not great for testing out suspension for the first time due to the layer of snow, ice, permafrost, leaves, and downed sticks and leaves. At times I had no idea where the trail was and whether it was the suspension that was working, or sinking in the mud and permafrost.
I love(d) my hard tail Mamasita and I love my Dos Niner. I love them for how they make me feel more connected to the trail and how much giddy up they have after coming off an obstacle (say a log pile). I love hard tails for their simplicity and light weight. BUTTTTTT! Having said all that, it took only 10 minute of single track on the Big Mama to realize that while my brain might dig a hard tail, my 37 year old body was LOVING four inches of suspension under my ass!
I am by NO means using today's ride as a judgement on the Big Mama, or the bike's suspension. The conditions where just not good enough and the ride not long enough to do that. I only rode for about 1:20 or 1:30, so that is in NO way enough to judge the bike.
There were a few nice stretches of trail that only had a dusting of snow, and were littered with roots. I've done this trail a million time and it calls for pedaling and hovering above the saddle letting the big wheels and front suspension eat it up. NOT today!! Today I went a gear higher, sat my ass down and pedaled easily over the roots, it was SWEET! On a few stretches I also tried to replicate how my handling gets when it's late in the race and my skills slack off, you know when the rear wheel is just NOT making it over a log or obstacle the way it did earlier in the race... And Big Mama was there to pick up the slack for me. A bail out for poor skills! Just what I need!
It's been a few years since I rode a FS bike (my 2006 El Santo), and the BIG Mama's feel was so much better than I remember it. It handled better and rode better than I ever thought a 28 lb., 4" travel 29er could. Like I said, my only regret is the conditions. They just were not that great.
The one time I didn't like it was when I jumped out to the saddle to do service rode climb. It was bob-tastic. BUT not from the rear suspension as much as from my Fox fork. I sat back down, threw on the lock out and all was right. Then for shits I put on the Pro Pedal on the rear shock and the bike took off like a hard tail. I can count on two fingers the times I got up out of the saddle like that during a Solo. If I'm up out of the saddle and standing, It's probably because my back is hurting. With the Big Mama's suspension and fit, I don't see that being an issue.
I only got 1:20 of riding in. The conditions where just not fun. There was a lot of downed trees from last week's wind storm, a lot of frozen ruts, and I was freaking COLD. Not sure it was worth the time and effort to do a single track ride today. Part of me thinks I may have been better off just doing an 1:20 on the trainer. Who knows? In the end it was a relief to ride my new bike and see what she's gonna have in store for me this season. I can' t wait for better conditions, and more time to really see what the Big Mama can do. THINK SPRING!!
I was also pretty geeked with what the scale told me today- It said that my weight loss total since December is up to about 13.5 pounds. SWEET! I should easily be back to my "normal" race weight in a month or so.
Not sure what I have planned for tomorrow. Pro Bikes is having a HUGE sale, I need some shit, and on top of that I need to do some training and some house stuff ANDI think we're supposed to get more snow