Sunday, August 02, 2009


I was going to continue to use my hard-tail and take it with me to the ride at Massabesic Watershed outside of Manchester, New Hampshire earlier today. But some glitches with hose length on those new Hydraulic brakes I was all wet over the other day stomped that notion down hard. I had already removed the old Hydraulics and there my bike was, ride-able but not stoppable.

"What was I going to do", I thought anxiously? "I love that Hard-tail. We have come to terms and I know I will hate riding any one of the other umpteen bikes I have kicking around."

I was like some contestant in a game show trying to pick which door to open. Three choices were staring me down. Put the old brakes back on just to remove them next week to put on my new ones. Ride a different bike. Or just don't go. Not going was out of the question. I had not been out to these trails in a couple of years. It was time. All of them were open now that the rain seems to be giving us break.

Miles of awesome single track were waiting for me. I looked over to the front display rack in the shop. There sitting patiently, cleanly, and humming softly with it's pedals up, the Rocky "Slayer" dual suspension tried to get my attention. It seemed to be saying, "What am I? Just some fancy bling to tease customers with? Or am I not an awesome piece of sporting equipment bound to cause you serious grin factor if you can handle me. I have been sitting here dude since April after you face planted into that stream. Dumass. Instead of making some adjustments for the extra 20 pounds you have strapped around your belly over the Winter, you put me up to gather dust. What a maroon! Pshaw! Hard-tail indeed! Hard-tails suck. I'm the real deal."

I swear that's what the Slayer said to me. Just not in so many words. It was a synaptic connection between my brain and the gully wots of the Slayer. Bicycles definitely have souls. Often playfully evil souls, but souls nonetheless. Dual Suspension rides are all so damn cocky. Almost as bad as those low rent trailer trash Single Speeders.

I had my doubts. The Slayer had punished me and my already injured knee not two months ago. Just because I had gotten fat and lazy over the Winter, it decided like some stubborn mule to not go into that stream with me on top of it. It had stopped short and I flew over the bars gracefully and just shy of a pike position to end up totally immersed in a Spring thaw cooled stream running full tilt boogie.

All the while I am checking out the bike, I am turning the worst case scenarios over and over in my mind. The FOMBA trails are chock full of opportunities for the Slayer to decide it wants no part of my hamfisted piloting skills. It could be a very embarrassing and bloody ride. I forged ahead though trying my best to not let the anxiety crest past sane amounts.

I pumped 20 PSI more into the rear shock. I pumped 20 more pounds into the front shock. I dropped the saddle 3/4 of an inch to lower my center of gravity. Ran through the gears, pumped the brakes, aired the tires to 30 PSI in the front tire and 35PSI in the rear. All I had left to do was fill the water bottle and lube the chain. I would do that just before we loaded up to head there. I went home and tried to get a good night's sleep.

I slept, but good is hardly how I would describe it. I woke up in a fog at 5:00 AM. I stumbled and bumbled through my pre-ride morning rituals. Coffee first, double checked that my helmet, gloves, Camelbak, shoes and knee pad were in the truck. Check and double check! I headed down to the shop to hook up with the crew and grab my bike. We left on time and my predicted 1 1/4 hour drive time was only off by a couple of minutes. On the trails by 9:00 AM.

The Lake Massabesic Watershed is a huge expanse of several lakes, forest, streams and rocks that provides drinking water for a sizable chunk of southern New Hampshire. FOMBA is a group of NH cyclists who have managed through hook, crook and hard work to get into the good graces of the powers that run the watershed. While there were miles of multi-use trails in the area, there were no trails designed and built by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We like a trail to have features that would drive other users mad if that is all they had. Bikes like a certain flow with technical glitches like logs, rocks and trees close together to take out the occasional pinkie finger. If it is a pain the ass for a hiker, a mountain biker is probably in heaven. Hikers generally seem to like to go from point A to Point B in a fairly direct manner while taking in the sights, sounds and smells at a leisurely pace. Off road riders love switchbacks and using every bit of terrain there is. And getting from Point A to Point B is less important then the journey in between. FOMBA folks set up trails with this in mind.

It seems the Slayer was happy to just be out and having me pay some attention to it. The adjustments I made were spot on for the terrain. I have never ridden those trails better. I cleaned sections that I used to walk. I swooped, dove, and climbed obstacles previously outside my skill set. My bike behaved and I gained confidence with each new section. It was a great day on the trails.

The nine of us played for three hours on these trails. I rode well until I just ran out of steam on "The Long Trail". Hit the wall. Cashed it in. I was done. The last mile was a real struggle. But I left a lot of grins out there today. And that my friend is what fun should be about.

If you want to get a good feel for what I rode today, check out this video. Hats off to "allMTN". He did a good job - Riding and editing.

Happy Trails....................

(1084 / 1936)


BBC said...

Never had 911 when I was a kid, or helmets, it was live or die, and good luck considering that we were all trying to kill ourselves.

Demeur said...

There was a time when I would have jumped at the chance to go on such a treck. Not so much any more.

Randal Graves said...

Given the playfully evil nature of a bicycle's soul, it's a good thing you never put James Bond retractable spycar blades on your wheels.