Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ride x(3+4/3y) = Make up your damn mind already

Damn, my mind leans which ever way the wind is blowing... and my opinions change as quickly as the new england weather!

Took the Scott Scale 29er out yesterday for a little two hour jaunt in Arcadia w/ Freddie and a buddy of his.  Pace was easy, very easy! Got to ride the 666 time trial course in the "right" direction at a fair pace though.  I think I prefer the "wrong" counter clock wise direction.  Arcadia in general is fairly rocky and rooty and the 666 course can get quite technical.  Some sections are completely unrideable to me, but I know some of "those guys" can clear it.  Impressive really...

Somehow, I felt really good and at home on Scott.  The bike floated easily over rocks and was a pleasure to handle and throw around on the trails.  The climbing grip is really amazing.  I did endo once but that was my fault.

So what was so different from the last time I rode the bike and hated it????

I think it all boils down to being able to take it easy.  If I am not trying to push the bike too hard, I have the time to unweight the front and then the rear, and can then roll through the techy stuff while remaining in control.  This would be in contrast to me trying to slam through it at race pace and being bounced all over the place, and eventually off the trail.  So the lesson I have to take from this is that my skills on a hardtail need to really increase and the way for me to do that, is to go out and ride technical trails at an easy pace.

I know that sounds stupid (since it is!) and should be easy to do, but since I tend to ride w/ guys that set a slamming pace and whose tech skills are much more advanced than mine, it is actually very difficult to "take it easy".  If I do take it easy, I end up being that guy every one has to stop and wait for.  I thought I was done being that guy and don't want to turn back into him!  This is also why I am having such a hard time letting go of my full squishy bike.  My rear suspension has allowed to me slam ineptly through stuff to keep up.

So to transition to a hardtail, I need to be able to develop my riding skills, and for that to happen I need to slow down.  Guess that is what the off season is for...  Maybe I'll have to start riding w/ the slower group...  Sitting behind a desk writing this, it's actually doesn't sound like a bad idea for me to go w/ the slower group during the off season.  If I can plan it well, I can do the hard rides the day before on my own and then use the group rides rides as my recovery/ skill development rides.  Of course, knowing myself, when I show up on at the group rides, my ego is going to push me to go w/ the faster group.  We'll see...

What was also nice about this Monday Am ride, other than riding on Mondays and the perfect sunny 45 degree crisp light and air, was ridding behind Freddie.  He rides the same bike (a little nicer version: the Scott Pro) and has some good techy skills. He would pic lines I would not have thought of trying on my own but watching him clear it, would motivate me to try as well.

So for now, I am back to riding the 29er....

Since it's important to have a picture of some sort, I'll post my new dreamy bike:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ride x+1

Some obvious thoughts about the 29er vs 26er:

I was riding w/ my brother in Cape Cod at the Otis Airforce base. I know the area fairly well.  Lots of crisscrossing trails which can be somewhat confusing but they mostly have the same feel: sweepy turns w/ punchy climbs in a well drained pine forest.  I was again somewhat struggling w/ my Scott, especially in the turns and in the one rock garden that is present there.  Just could not get the center of gravity for the bike quite right.  Then, just for fun, I switched bikes w/ my brother who rides a Niner Air 9. We set the bikes up right and took a 3 mile spin.  I was and felt noticeably faster on the Niner, and had my brother dropped pretty quickly.  The steering was much more crisp and fast and the bike did not feel like the front end wanted to wash and wonder off.  Even in the punchy climbs the bike felt like it had more grip and needed to be weighted down less. After the ride, my brother also commented he felt the front end of the Scott felt vague and that the bike had "truck" like feel to it. So my struggles w/ getting used to a 29er might not, obviously in hindsight, be w/ the 29er per say, but rather w/ the slack angle of the Scott at 69% and how the bike is balanced out.  I have wondered why Nino Schurter was not racing the scott scale 29er but that is most likely the reason why.   It's just not a racy bike!

I also took my Specialized Epic 26er out for a night ride.  It took a couple of miles to get back into the handling of it but it came back pretty quickly.  Specialized really nailed the suspension w/ their development of the "brain".  It is such a fun bike and I was quickly trying to find the lines over everything instead of around, like I have been on the 29er.  I struggled a little w/ the real narrow bars I have on the bike and did wish for some slightly wider bars even at the end of the ride.   Also I could certainly feel the loss of traction on the steep uphills and spun out once where I normally make it up w/ the 29er.  But overall, the bike felt much more right than the Scott.

This leaves me w/ a Scott Scale I really want to like, but sadly just don't. So I will have to most likely ebay it!  I have been looking at the Air 9 but since my shop doesn't carry it, I 'll have to shell out full retail for it, which is going to hurt!  Also I would need to make sure I scoop up a Scandium frame before they are gone:  A nice Vana white frame w/ a red Chris King headset and red seat colar, a white Sid XX and white AM xc wheelset...full X.O drive train, white & red marta sl brakes, and ec 70/90 post/stem/handle bars... yum....

Addendum:  This post seems to be the most read post on my Scott Scale experience, so I wanted to post the link to the follow up on the bike: