This was supposed to be an early ride at 7 AM. I like saturday mornings easy and slow but had agreed to meet some friends. Well I did not get there until 7:40 and it was still cold! Rode around at an easy pace warming up and found my friends. One of them was pretty fast, though he was riding his full stiffy single speed since was in the process of building up his new Scott Scale 29er Pro. So the pace was sustainable. They had to leave pretty quickly though (that getting to work on time thing) and I found myself trying to decide which loop I wanted to do. Since I had not been in that area since my first ride on this bike, I decide to retrace the same loop as ride #1 to compare.
I found my way to "Dead People" pretty quickly. I needed to try that step up and see if I would go OTB again. I found the trail leading to that rock very manageable and noticed I was much more comfortable on the bike. My pace was good but I was not trying to kill it. I got to the step up and though lifting my front wheels was still not easy, I did clear the rock and rode over the rock w/out feeling like I was a newby at this stuff. I almost cleared the rest of the trail w/ out dabbing, like I know I normally can. I did get hung up on another step up but noticed that the reason I did was because I was trying to ride around it instead of riding right over it like I normally do. I decided at that point that my issues w/ this bike had been mostly psychological and that I was ridding like I was not trusting the bike (let me say like it is: I was ridding like a pussy!). I needed to start ridding w/ much greater confidence and not try to ride around stuff I know I can normally ride over. To get in with this bike I needed to start having some fun and try to get over stuff and getting it a little air born.
On the "Elephant" trail, I cleared w/out issues the corner w/ the big log I had tripped over last time. The rocky climb to the top was comfortable, including a tight left turn I occasionally washed out on my 26er. On "Allen's Ave" I focused on taking the most challenging line and started to notice I was really just focusing on the 10 inches in front of my wheel instead of looking down the trail like I should. Again a sign of my lack of trust/ comfort with the bike. I tried to make the adjustment but caught myself again looking at my front wheel. Allen's Ave has a very challenging large boulder section with two section I would get hung up on on my 26er. The first time I rode it w/ this bike, I got hung up a dozen times. This ride, I got hung up on both sections I have yet to clear to date and just one other section. Clearly an improvement from the first time. The other place I did not clear was tight turn w/ a steep step up. Again struggling w/ getting the front end up high! I crossed Cardy's road, took the drop down "the wall" and climbed the slight hill to the parking lot on Hopkins Hills. I followed it w/ bombing down the rooty downhill where Steve broke his bike, and though it felt a little out of control, I could tell I was getting much more comfortable w/ the bike. Since I was out of water, I decided to skip "Shoot the Moon" and just took the connector trail back, a fast swoopy trail. I greatly enjoyed the great traction of the bike through those turns. No need to slow down at all for any of those turns. When I got to the car, I was smiling!
There are certainly some things I will need to continue to work on and left the ride w/ some clear thoughts (see post ride 5.1 for those). I'll post those tomorrow since I need to hurry up and get home to hop on the...no, not already...the...urgh...trainer... :-p