Monday, April 16, 2007


Date: April 16 Mon
Mileage: 20 (C'dale)
April mileage: 101
Year to date: 712

I had my title in mind before reading Jim's '90s reference on his entry today. My refers to two items, a helmet and shoes, which I'll discuss later. I had the good fortune to give a Cannondale Caffeine 29 "29er" today. Don't ask why please. Just know that it's all legal and above board. I haven't done any "real" mountain biking since I sold my last C'dale and bought the Surly Crosscheck what is now 6 or so years ago (I estimate that; I really don't remember). I mountain biked a fair amount in the '90s back when I was a young pup. Once the falls and scrapes starting hurting for longer than a few days, and once I got run over and almost broke my hand, I slowed down and then stopped. Cyclocrossing seemed a good compromise, given the ability to get off-road, but without the need to bounce over too many scary rocks and drop-offs.

Well, as stated, I received an opportunity to give C'dale's 29er a spin. Apparently, among others Surly with its Karate Monkey helped kick off the 29er revolution. What you have is a mountain bike with moreorless 700C rims. As my road bike wheels shrank from 700C to 650B, many mountain bike wheels are increasing from 26" to 29". The advantages are (supposedly) better rolling resistance- or less as it were-, smoother rolls over rocks and such with the larger diameter, and the ability to climb better due to the circumference. What is important to note is that I have no real clue about these various factors, but an opportunity is just that, so I took it. This bike has mega-tires. They're probably 2.35" or something like that. It also has disc brakes, something I've never experienced, but I do know that many mtbikes are going to disc, and some 'cross bikes are doing the same, although discs are illegal in UCI competitions.

First of all, I took an almost 2-hour ride that completely kicked my ass. Although I haven't been on the dirt too much, it's been a long time since I did a super aggresive full-on trail ride, roots rocks and all. I did pretty much all the trails in Cherokee and Seneca both coming and going, up and downhill. What I forgot about mountain biking is the brute force needed to clear so many obstacles. On the road you can really hit a hill hard or put it in a granny gear and toodle up. Yes, a mtbike offers the granny, but if you don't maintain a certain pace you'll fall sideways, down or in the bushes. Our trails are full of tree roots especially, and if I didn't ride them with a certain pace, I would've never cleared them. I only had to push the bike twice, something I'm really pleased with. That's the first impression of the C'dale 29er. With its big-ass tires and big-ass "Lefty" shock it rolls over just about anything. I rode as or more aggressively today than I every had in the past. The combo of all the element, including brakes much stronger than original V-brakes made for a package that really worked well for me. I can imagine some of these guys with the $3000 carbon dual-suspended bikes on the trails. Mierda, they don't even think about riding over obstacles. The biggest difficulty with the bike was figuring out the "english", as the low bottom bracket made in challenging to keep the pedals where they need to be to get over logs. Funnily enough it reminds me of the BB discussions and pedal strike complaints with the Bleriot. Doesn't bother me, but I guess if you're a mtbike connoisseur.

The biggest challenge today was one of fitness. I tried to climb everything I could and a couple times I went much more into the red zone than I have any time recently on the road. Of late, with nothing to prove, I just don't ride hard on hills. Yes, I should in order to build "FITNESS!!", but I just ride. Today, though, I worked like I haven't in a long time. It felt good, but boy and I tired and sore in spots I haven't been in a while. Oh, and the 2nd biggest was crashing of course. I stopped mtbiking b/c crashing hurt. Today towards the end of my ride when the tiredness was setting in I banged into a tree with put me down on me right knee. Ouch! It sort of stunned me. Shortly thereafter I was descending a shadowed trail avoiding some roots when WHAP!, my helmet hit a damn tree again!! Right on my head. If I hadn't been helmeted I would've been in trouble. Double Ouch!! It made my neck hurt too. Really, paralysis flashed before my eyes. THAT is why I stopped mtbiking.

Oh, the 1991 reference. I was riding a new, svelte modern mountain bike with the latest disc brakes and suspension fork, but on my head a 1991 Giro Lemond-era helmet. I should retire it, but it's junk and i keep throwing it on. And on my feet 1991 Shimano mtbike shoes. These were the first "real" mtbike shoes marketed via none other than Julie Furtado. Remember her? They're old, tired and a bit too small, but I installed the new cleats on them last night and away I went today. 1991 was a long time ago in mtbike terms. I got a black-with-pink-highlights C'dale for undergrad graduation in '91, on which I later installed an early RockShox and Scott funky-ass bar. Even then I was thinking of the functional aspects of the bike when I put on Avocet CrossKs, a rack and small panniers for riding to college (graduate level).

An interesting day. It's be more interesting to see how sore I am tomorrow. At least I got on the damn thing today.

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