Saturday, June 25, 2011

SS Climbing Nirvana

First, let me lay a bit of groundwork…I got into mountain biking back in the late 80’s as a senior in college. Bought a Cannondale mtb which was great although the wheelbase was long and it felt like driving a yacht..a very stiff yacht. Then in the mid 90’s, I found a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp used from a kid at ASU that did nothing with it except ride it to school…major deal. Wow, what a difference; short wheelbase, steeper head tube angle...twitchy in comparison. However, after some getting used to it, it was great…did some races and had some fun. Then….took a long hiatus from riding. Fast forward to 2008, I was on a business trip back in Ohio, when a friend at the client I was visiting invited me to come riding. I figured why not? Then I caught the bug again…a couple months later and I was the proud owner of a 2008 Specialized Stumpjumper Elite…man, that bike was sweet. Living fairly near the McDowell Mountains, I frequented those trails. I routinely suffered up Windgate and Bell. My goal was to do the Quad Bypass in 2010…done.
Then, like all of us bike owners, we get the itch…simply because we spend our spare hours surfing the bike porn as my wife calls it. I kept thinking that the whole SS thing might be for me. However, I was worried that I wouldn’t ride my favorite trails in McDowells…Could I still do Windgate? Would I be stuck with SSing the flatter stuff only? Would I still ride the SJ?
I probably spent 8 months trying to decide what bike to build…steel? Low dollar or high dollar frame? Then in a moment of weakness, I decided to buy the Lynskey Ridgeline…I figured worst case, I’d put gears on it and at least I’d join the 29er world.
Spent most of the summer weekends of 2010 riding it up in Flagstaff. Geared it at 32x21 so the steeper stuff wasn’t too bad. Then it happened…the epiphany…the moment when I decided it was right…. I was riding up Mt. Elden Rd…simply standing on each turn of the pedal…no excessive pulling on the upstroke…a nice steady HR of about 150bpm… it just seemed so right to climb like that...The perfect combination of grade, gear, and guts (by guts I mean fitness) that seems to make everything else go away, even if just for that climb. People say when you ride an SS, you’re always in the wrong gear… In this case, nirvana happens, it is the right gear.

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