|Me and Ollie|
This was the first time I'd tried a 29" wheel bike, and also the first time I'd ever ridden a bike with rear suspension. Both of these features were very new and exciting to try out on a tough trail. The 29" wheels made for a lot of stability - I felt very comfortable and stable rolling over big rocks that would have freaked me out on my usual Gary Fisher hardtail bike. The wheels are mostly to thank for that. The other major win was the hydraulic disc brakes... the same kind as I used on the Kona Blast I rode on in Seattle last month. The extremely sharp brake sensitivity (and very new and clean tires, I should add) also really added to my comfort and stability on a really tough and sometimes steep and kinda gnarly terrain. I REALLY loved the brakes.
|Oh, you sexy beast|
The rear suspension was also a brand new experience for me. At first I didn't really notice it, which I think is intended. The Specialized has a very interesting piece of technology called a "Brain" which measures the amount of bump you are getting on the bike and engages the rear suspension only when required - this was pretty cool. So it stayed almost like a hardtail until I hit any sort of bumps at all, and then the rear shock would engage itself and respond to the terrain. I found myself "lifting" off my bike seat still a bit on very rocky/bumpy downhill as you would expect to do. But on lighter stuff or terrain that I would have had to lift off on my hardtail, I just zoomed right over it without concern. That was pretty sweet.
|This is the most Northern California photo of all time|
So that was my big ride at Tamarancho, and also my first day out on this sweet rental. I got my phone to GPS the whole thing, check out the results here on Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/54971208
Today I waited for the crowds from the Bay To Breakers race in San Francisco to disperse a bit so I wasn't going to need to weave through a bazillion people, and in the afternoon I took the bike out again for another hour to Golden Gate Park for a couple of the usual random runs here and there and random little side trails that can be fun and are less strenuous than Tamarancho. (My legs needed a bit of a rest, but I really wanted to make good use out of this 2 day rental). It was a great test of the bike today too, and I didn't notice the rear shocks as much today (though they did seem to be engaging a lot when I looked at them), but what I really noticed today was the speed that you get with 29" wheels. Man that thing goes fast. On the Polo Field at Golden Gate Park, I was spinning around the track at lightning pace compared to my usual run on my hardtail bike... and this is all in Gear #4 or 5 on the back, 1 on the front! Pretty crazy stuff.
I didn't take a GoPro this time, but this guy posted a cool video of him testing out this bike on some trails in Colorado that look quite a bit like the kinds of terrain we did at Tamarancho.