Monday, November 9, 2009

Dirt ride report - Snowhill

Saturday morning I went out to the Little Big Econ state park over off Snow hill road to meet a co-worker for a little trail riding. Of course, I forgot my gloves. This would turn out to make the last bit of the ride quite unpleasant. I hadn't been out here in a while, but this will be my regular weekend dirt ride, Im sure. Out of the parking lot of Snow hill there is about a mile of fairly sandy and tight singletrack that leads to some nice ups and downs right next to the river. My bike is pictured below leaned over onto a tree with a 20 foot drop into the river just behind.

The riding is pretty nice right there next to the river. There are quite a few short climbs and logpile roll-overs. These big wheels do seem to roll over obstacles very well. The only problem was that the front tire seemed to wash out very easily on the loose stuff. This seems to be the consensus about the small-block 8 tires. A couple of times the bike would just not go where I pointed it in the middle of a quick switchback. The front shock really absorbed all of the roots and ruts easily, and surprisingly the rear didn't jostle me around too much over roots. I could actually remain seated over small stuff without feeling like I was being butt-punched. Im running at 40 psi in both front and rear.

There is a dry swamp area out there that is somewhat rooty, but quite hard-packed with fast sweeping switchbacks. Now that part was super fun. My co-worker, Jim, let me lead for a while. I noticed after a couple of minutes of riding in the 'swamp' area that Jim was wayy behind me... actually out of sight. I stopped and he caught up a minute later.. I thought I was pretty hot stuff, but it turns out he had a little 'incident' running off trail. After riding for about an hour, my hands started to really throb with pain. The grips felt like bricks, and one grip I had to continually smack back into place. These wtbs have got to go. I'm sure one problem with the pain was that I had a bit of a death-grip on the handlebars. I'm not really used to riding in the rough stuff yet, so my fitness level is way above my off-road bike handling confidence right now. So, when really pushing it, I would grab the hell out of the handlebars.

Sunday's ride was much the same, but I had gloves and a lot more confidence - and was able to climb almost every obstacle without dabbing. I think I only had one forced dab in an hour. I was out by myself, and kinda got lost - fun anyway. Hands were sore after 45 minutes, and my lower back started to get a little sore after an hour or so. May need a shorter stem to lessen the stretch to the bars, but probably just need to work on doing a bunch of sit-ups for strengthening my gut-area.

So after my first ride(s) here is what I have to say:

Seat: WTB Rocket V was very comfortable.
Grips: These are crap - even riding with gloves the next day my hands hurt after only 45 minutes.
Tires: Roll really fast through the hard stuff - but feel slick through any sort of sandy or loose terrain.
Drivetrain: Very slick shifting. I was having a few issues with ghost-shifting in certain gears. I will need to figure that out.
Brakes: Grip better than any brake I have ever used. Rear brake is dragging a little. From doing some research, it may be overfilled with fluid.

I have to say that I am really pleased with my purchase. The botched frame sticker bums me out, but the way this thing rides more than makes up for it. The sticker could say 'ButtPuncher' for all I care, the thing rides great.

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