Monday, April 11

Well... ummm... hmmm...

Pisgah.  The final testing frontier for the plusser/mid-fat tires.  Also a pretty place to be on the last weekend before the seasonal trails shut down for the year.  A ride with Billy Nye and Nick "Dip 'n Spray" Barlow that ended up being a ride will Bill Nye and Bike Law Ann... because, I assume, beer and bad decisions the night before on Nick's part.

Start with a climb from the fish hatchery.  Something I was concerned about with the lower pressures (13front/17 rear), bigger contact patch, and slightly smaller diameter was speed (or lack thereof) on gravel climbs.  I could feel the front tire squish about when standing as I went up 475b, but other than that, not much different.  Maybe, just maybe, I sensed that the 32X20 (my normal Pisgah gear) was a tad smaller on the 27.5+ tires.  It's not that hard of a climb, so who really knows?  Not to mention, I've been riding these wheels/tires exclusively for over a month now.  Familiarity, breeding, contempt and all that.

When we finally started going down some stuff... yeah.  I noticed a difference.  When things got chunky, the smaller wheels fell into the "holes" between the rocks and roots worse than my 29 X 2.4.  As marginal as the difference in diameter is, I swear it's noticeable.  Well, that or it's just been too long since I've been rigid in the mountains (five or six months?).

Anyways, there's not a whole lot of carving turns or "flow" on the average Pisgah ride.  Chunky, straight down gnar that occasionally either subtly or abruptly changes direction.

One place where the bike did shine?  Super chunk tech climbing.

This section of Daniel's Ridge.  I haven't cleaned it on a single speed... ever?  I don't know.  If I ever have, it was a very long time ago and many years of erosion since.  I did clean it on a geared ROS9 last winter.  Steep pitches, very few sections that allow for recovery, loose rocks, shelf-like roots, and powder dirt.  There's just so much traction available with 2.8" of rubber on the ground at low pressure.  I even came to a dead stop, got in a track stand, unclipped by accident, kept my foot on the pedal, and got everything going again.  Absolutely not one moment of hippity hoppity trials stuff to get to the top (not saying that doesn't take huge talent, just saying I rode/pedaled the whole way).

So, what to do now?

I need to get back up to the mountains with the 29" wheels to see if I'm still knocking winter's rust off or if indeed the difference in roll over is that appreciable.  I have no doubt that if you put 27.5+ wheels on a full suspension bike, it would kill.  I saw Greg Schisla out there on the trail riding a rental 27.5+ Santa Cruz Hightower, and he certainly wasn't complaining, unless his face was hurting from smiling all day long.  The combination of all that traction paired with some quality suspension?  It would be insane. I can see why the "industry" insider media douchebags are raving over the concept.  They're not just trying to ram new product down your throat. 

But full rigid?  The bike really does carve and is incredibly playful where the terrain suits it.  The climbing traction is nuts.  As long as the impediments in front of me are only occasional roots, rocks... maybe some braking bump chatter, I can let it go.  Crazy fast.  When the shit gets hairball tho?  Eeeegads.  I felt like I was back on my 26" wheeled rigid single speed.  I could see where this bike would be incredible out West on some of those pea gravel trails where they dream of the occasional rain to provide a day of hero dirt.  Every day would be hero dirt.

I still need to try the wheels on the Stickel as well.  Add 120mm of suspension to the equation and my opinion might very well drastically change.  Obviously, the rear end doesn't move, but will it be a deal breaker?  Dunno.

BTW:  Ann had borrowed Bill Nye's Devinci with a dropper post (instead of riding her hardtail), and despite this only being her second (I think) ride in the proper mountains... she kinda crushed it.

Bill Nye rode his single speed and grumbled the whole time.  Better than not riding at all, but not a fan of the hardtail in Pisgah.

Still dropping me like a hot potato every time it got chunky tho.  I could hold his wheel as long as it was fast and all about keeping off the brakes, but once the obstacles starting getting in the way... sads.  I couldn't believe how quickly he was gone.

Hmmmm... now what?  I've got two bikes, three sets of wheels, and less than a month before PMBAR.

It's probably worth mentioning that while we didn't ride the absolute rowdiest trails, there was still plenty of technical garbage all over the place.  Also, when did all those cheater lines down lower Daniel's (below Farlow) pop up?   It's one of my favorite (albeit short) descents in Pisgah.  Rocks... like everywhere.  And now all these lines around them?  Meh.

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