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?).
One place where the bike did shine? Super chunk tech climbing.
So, what to do now?
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.
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.