Ferdinand S24O

It's cheating a bit to call this a S24O, but we left town at 6.00pm and were back at the house at 2.00pm, well under '24' status. PJ has had many life responsibilities, but we finally scheduled a weekend camp/ride to knock off the cobwebs. I had the further motivation of giving the new Jones a thorough introduction. As read, Ferdinand SF has more of an old-school mtbike feel to it, so I knew that a little water would be much less of a problem than on the local groomed options.

If we had left on time, we would have caught the sunset at camp, or maybe even missed it through the trees. As such, we were entertained with great views for the majority of the trip up I-64.

FSF is rather remote. I expected the warm weather- 50's in February!- to bring out a few campers, but we were the only ones in the campground. I suspect we were in the exact same spot as last time, near water and the facilities. A team effort of wood from my backyard stack and PJ's fire skills had us toasty over a fire and cooking a supper of several things, pad thai noodles with chicken for me and I believe some salt bomb for him. The beef hotdogs over the fire set the scene, as did the bottle of grape juice. Refined, we are! Refined!

With my limited camera skills, or at least limited set-up, this was the best I got of the nice, yellow moon that greeted us late evening. Not only was it warm, but we had a very starry sky to admire. And warm temps! 

I've yet to solve the camp sleep thing. My pad lost air, as usual, and I tossed and turned all night. At one point I was semi-awake at 3.00am listening to the dogs and coyotes try to outnoise each other.  I finally got up to, you know, visit nature, and decided to use my silk bag in addition to the Mountain Hardware 45. I don't know what the evening temps were, but that combo got me some extra hours until 7.

 Camp coffee, yes. I used a the Soto Helix dripper again to good effect. I think PJ went with the Starsux Via standby. Not a bad choice either in times of need.

I think I did a better job setting up the Nemo last time out. I had a corner popping up for some reason and had to use stakes. The wind picked up with the evening, so by bed time I had all 4 corners staked and two ends guyed down to keep out the drafts. 

 Jones ready for a first real ride. What would await?

 This was a noisy critter up there. I think the best chance is a Downy WP, but really I have no clue. This pic doesn't have enough detail to help, at least without some CSI image cleanup.

The plan was to do some mtbike trails in the park in combination with a 20-mile gravel loop in the area to give us a nice, mixed morning. We decided to start with the trails, driving to a close-by trailhead. It's sort of hard to describe FSF trails. We found a mix, a real mix, of somewhat untechnical trails with lots of speedy downhills, lots of punishing uphills, and enough stream crossings, leaves, ruts, and "stuff" to keep things interesting. I liked Fox Hollow Trail for its interesting textures. We made an early stop to shed a layer. I pushed the Jones early on to get a feel for its capabilities.

 Something pretty common in FSF, a singletrack feeding into a wide forest road. It's seems to be half/half. The roads aren't particularly easy, as several had sizable climbs.

Perhaps I pushed the Jones too much. I decided via Jeff Jones to have the rear wheel as a tubeless setup, as all the cool kids are doing that. Problem was, as we crossed the entry road and began the second trail- SouthRidge- I noticed the rear wheel going soft. Drat! In what was one of the worst tire changes ever, I ended up mounting an extra tube, all the while burning through 2 CO2 cartridges, and using PJ's pump to top things off. My theory is a leak at the valve stem. My lack of skill was very apparent and I suspect this little "situation" cut into some of our later riding. Yes, it took that long.

One of my favorite sections was SouthRidge along the lake. The trail leveled out a bit to allow for nice views.

 A leveling out became a fierce, quick climb with some switchbacks to climb away from the lake. This was the first section where I really, really redlined. Foreshadowing.

At the end of SouthRidge the trail dumps you across this creek and into a picnic area, where we picked up Fossil Lake trail with its steep little opening. More redline. 

As some point at the crux of Fossil Lake I thought we followed signs for the Twin Lakes trail, which would take us up the eastern side of the forest. Not terribly long after that it dumped us out on the road where we started, somehow missing Twin Lakes. I'm still confused where we missed the the turn. After a couple toasty, tough sections I asked to use the gravel roll to collect myself, and we would push on to see what might happen.

At the northern end we decided to do the Kyana trail and found a couple miles of really soupy, gravelly, messy fun. It wasn't "mtbiking" per se, but it was off-roading and a ton of fun to slop through. At some point PJ stopped for a chain issue and I chugged up the climb, at the top of which we found a really nice pine grove before diving back into singletrack. Nice section.

After an exhilarating descent  we followed along bottom land, including the crossing bridge, before beginning the climb to the fire tower. Where are fire towers located? Yes, at the high point. This climb was a walk-n-ride-walk to the top, a *hard* walk. I was pretty cooked at this point, and we both had some time pressure. After the fire tower we decided to head back via a bit more gravel, giving us 2 hard hours of riding and close to 3 total.

Jones thoughts:

  • Fun
  • Handles as good as advertised. It's sharp, precise, and confident. 
  • The combo of front fat, truss fork, and Ti made for lots of front suspension without the compression of a suspension fork. It worked *really* well. And my upper body feels great even though the trails dealt out some punishment.
  • The rather far back position helped with muddy traction, but I still lost purchase sometimes.
  • My lower back is really sore. I don't know if that is a function of the geometry, a poor night's sleep on the ground, or just being fat and old.
  • Fun
  • The position is like none other. You sit very in the middle of the bike instead of being splayed out forward. Jeff said I might climb more out of the saddle and I understand why, although I didn't much b/c of wet conditions. Again, you're in the middle of the bike, firmly planting both wheels.
  • The Jones fork bag is alright but I need to work on positioning more. It held my jacket when I took that layer off. The weight wasn't a problem, but it rubbed the tire a few times. I can see using it for trips but not for day-in-day-out singletrack riding.


Pondero said…
Happy to see you enjoying the Jones, and wasting no time getting it dirty. What a nice looking bike! I hope we can see more photos of this one in action.

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