A Short Long Ride & Mama Thoughts
Today was just "one of those days/rides". From the get go the a.m. was just mentally "off". I made the best of it, and planned a trip up the mountain for a few hours of dirt. Today I wanted to take the Big Mamma. I hadn't been on the Big Mama since the Bakers Dozen and knew I was hitting some good amounts of single track today. I figured the Big Mama would be a good choice for some East coast mountain single track. The plan was to hit most of what I rode on Wednesday, but add in some additional trails and roads. I hoped for up to 5 hours of saddle time. That never really materialized.
Problem #1: Like I said I hadn't been on the Big Mama since Leesburg. So I had both the front and rear shock pretty much set up for smoother single track riding. Not rocky and rooty single track. It was too stiff, and I had no shock pump with me. Oh well, I'll make do.
Problem #2: My position on the Dos Niners has gotten much better. And I guess now MUCH different from the Big Mama. I noticed it right away and felt all out of sorts, even down to my grips.
Problem #3: My bike computer was f*cked. Stupid Cat Eye wireless P.O.S.. If a chipmunk farts it looses it's signal. I can go without a computer for rides I know, but I'm trying to organize a big ass loop and keeping track of time and mileage is important to me. So the computer not working really chapped my ass.
Despite problems 1 thru 3 I kept rolling along the forest roads, heading towards 7 Springs for some single track. The single track was fun of course, but I was just mentally out of sorts and the bike's issues (PSI/position, etc.,) were getting on my nerves. I knew the ride was not long for this world.
I finished my loop at the springs and hopped on some service roads that took me back to Fire Tower Road and eventually my car. I still got over 2 hours of riding in, but it was far from the 5 plus hours I wanted. What-are-ya-gonna-do? All of these things could have been avoided and were sort of my own fault.
I should have remembered to adjust the air pressure of the Big Mama. I should have updated that P.O.S. computer, and I should have compared my new (better) fit on the Dos Niner to the Big Mama and made the adustments. Shoulda, would have, blah, blah, blah- Didn't!
But a ride is a ride. Better than not riding at all.
This was the first time I used the Big Mama up on the mountain, so it was like Part II of a review/test. It was also the first time I rode a full suspension up there in 3 years, and I've never ridden 29er FS up there. In hindsight I should have taken the Dos Niner. The Big Mama was sort of the wrong tool for the job today. She excelled at Leesburg when it was undulating, on the gas single track, but up on the mountain I found myself wanting my Dos Niner or a hard tail. I know that sounds a bit ephed up. I mean the Big Mama is MADE to soak up rocks and roots and the mountain single track has PLENTY of those!
The problem was with the climbing. I felt sluggish. This could have been my legs, it could have been the wheels (I had my heavier Bontrager/Hope wheels on), or it could just be my riding style. But I felt like I was using a lot of power to get the Big Mama up to speed on the climbs and in no way felt like I could move the bike around like I can the Dos Niner or my old Mamasita. Some folks would have no problem with the sit and spin right over stuff approach that worked today. To me it just made me feel slow. God knows I'm not the fastest, so if I feel slow, I'm feel sllllow.
The Big Mama is an incredible all day ride bike. That was proved to me at Leesburg, but for THIS style of all day riding- big forest road climbs, double track, single track (think NUE Hundie type riding) I will stick with the Dos Niner (at least until I get the Big Mama re-sorted out) and save the BM for single track with less big climbs.
There were some spots today in the single track that I indeed felt like I was cheating! I mean she was rolling over anything in here path! Rocks be damned! It was just when those same trails went up and I wanted to flick the bike around a bit more that I wasn't thrilled.
I was also thinking more about 29er FS bikes in general. I've heard some folks talk that maybe a FS bike is best left to 26" wheels or more interestingly to me- 650b wheels. Not sure I could ever go back to 26" wheels and I'm not 100% sure that the mountain bike world needs yet another wheel size.
There was some 26"/29"/650b talk from Bike Radar editor Steve Worland about the various wheels that I thought was interesting:
"There's a long term test feature on 26" vs 650B vs 29er waiting in the wings," Worland said. "The main part of my conclusion was 'from a purely personal point of view, I’ll happily admit that I would like to have been convinced that a classy 650B build is the best of both worlds. But I wasn’t. There just didn’t seem to be enough real world advantages over 26-inch wheels'.
"The Pacenti tamed the bumps very slightly better than a 26er, but quite noticeably better when I slotted in a 29-inch wheel up front," he added. "And when I slotted a 26-inch wheel with a 2.55-inch tyre in the back it felt better than with a 650B wheel with a 2-inch tyre. A big tyred 26er would be a far cheaper and more choice-happy solution too.
"At the end of the test, and after a lot of conversation, we were left thinking that a 650B bike is a great choice for riders who are too short to fully benefit from a full blown 29er… in other words sub 5ft 11in riders who like the idea of the rolling advantages of a 29er but find them a bit gawky to ride, or look at."I agree with him. Part of me wishes there was some happy middle ground that the 650B wheel could help attain, but it just doesn't seem like it offers enough. Anyway, I wanted to jot down these thoughts while they were fresh in my head. I need to make some adjustments and then try again I suppose. I had a lot on my mind today and I hope that that didn't play too much into my observations today. Don't think I'm all hattin' on my Big Mama. I love the bike. She just wasn't the right choice today's ride.