By 1600 yesterday all my chores were done and I was ready for a ride. Feeling like playing hard, I went in to grab my supermondodeluxe full suspension when the Ritchey greeted me on the bike stand instead. I stared,thought about it. Not complete I havent even clipped and capped the cables yet. The brakes felt super mushy when riding a simple access road Friday afternoon. She still reeled me in. The anticipation, collecting the parts over the past year, no self control, put it together to ride. The heck with pretty pictures before I get it dirty. Added a few more tools to the riding pack and racked the steed up on the Suburban.
Riding Tiger is a typical old school Washington MTB trail. Three or so miles of constant up hill gravel road, followed by some wonderful gradual rolly singletrack descents. Even on my best day I was never a strong climber and a few decades ago lost all desires to be the first one to the top of the hill. That said, the dirt drop climbed very well and nobody passed me on the way up (someday I will tell you the Unicycle story). Compared to my Supermondodeluxe tanker (or even my TimberComp with bullmoose setup), I felt like I was flying up the hill. Love the drop bars and how they feel.
I had used an old Suntour reference off of Mombats site to set up my roller cams. Not sure why, but it instructed me to gap the pads about 3.5mm away from the rim. Felt way too far away for me. Quick fix before the descent was just to adjust the cables for a pad much closer to the rims. Made all the difference in the world.
Admittedly, by the time I got to the top of the gravel road, I had a bad case of the "Wanna reel in some full suspension full body armor cruisers on the way down this trail" throbbing to the beat of some long forgotten Henry Rollins song going through my veins. I saw about 20 cars in the parking lot and knew they were all somewhere ahead of me mocking my lack of climbing skills. A quick shot of water from the naglene bottle in the pack, (still looking for the right bottle cage) and I was off.
Bliss. Been riding Tiger for a couple of decades and know the trail (and its evolution over time) pretty well.Every root and little drop is like a good friend. Top section is deffinately an E ticket. Roller coaster, followed by a technical rooty section, leading into multiple little 1-2 foot drops section. The roller coaster just pumped me up and got my adrenalin going. Bike felt great. Hit the rooty section way too fast but by then it was too late. "Game On". Beat the crap out of myself ( Thank goodness the RM20's are still true) riding through the rooty section like I had five inches of suspension front and rear. I can't help it, I have no self control.....Hurt like hell, but I was laughing out loud the whole time like a little kid (yes I was alone and yes I laugh and talk to myself sometimes also).
So here I am. Except for being quite a bit older, riding Tiger on a vintage Ritchey the same way I rode the trail 20 years ago. I have recieved many comments over the years about being very fast in the downhill sections but admittedly have not once been told how smooth my riding style is. Never enjoyed the lightweight evolution very much because the stuff just wouldn't last under my lardass weight. At fifty lbs heavier than the heaviest man ever to win the TDF (Indurain at 172lbs), I am a bike parts makers worst nightmare.
Finally through the "roots from hell" section and ito the mini drop offs. After a half dozen or so, I was really getting the hang of the bike and getting smooth consistent air. Things were really cool but I still hadn't reeled in any other riders yet. Then it happened. Not the end of the world, I had landed a jump off of about a 2 foot high root and came short of a rock on the other side. didn't fall but knew as soon as I hit the rock edge straight on what would happen. Snake bite. The immediate hissing from the front tire brought back all sorts of memories from past rides. No biggie, The Ground Controls are easy tires to take on and off the rm20's (no tools required even for these old hands). Replaced the tube and got pissed off at the piece of crap had pump I brought along. Seemed to be pulling out air from the presta tube with every back stroke on the pump. Never used this pump before, I had picked it up at a bike shop when I couldn't find my old reliable one. After messing around for a while I finally got enough air in the tube to get out of there (I kid you not, I counted 4 sets of 100 pumps and still it felt like 25 lbs of pressure). Good enough if I take it easy.
Well that lasted 5 minutes. Can't help myself. Things were too fun. Got back on the ride and within a few minutes, it was full throttle again. Predictable results, with that low of air pressure, I pinched the front tire again, only this time, no spare tube, I had to patch.
Got through that ok, another four or five sets of 100 screaming at the mini pump from hell and I was ready to go. Throttled way, way back and decided it was time to enjoy the scenery.
Putzing along way too slow, I came to a section of roots I usually can just pop over with a little bit of speed. Half way through doing my best Hans Rey impression, I suddenly felt like I was mimicking a well viewed picture taken at Keyesville of some other rider here on the VRC forum.
Being a long time old school geometry mtb vetran, I have had the slow motion over the handlebar roll mastered for many years. Something caught me funny this time though, and for some reason instead of doing a beautiful shoulder roll, I managed to land directly on my Sub Zero. I loved that helmet and it is sad to see it go. Heck I have used it mtbing since...since......well, since I smashed my sub 6 the same way.......I never have subscribed th the throw it away after three seasons rule and I am here to say, after many years, the sub zeros foam did exactly what it should have compressing and protecting my head (I think).
Picked up the biggest of the foam pieces stuffed em in the pack and continued on my way.....
From here out with no helmet, a funky feeling in my neck, and little to no pride left, I continued out at a slow pace. I walked through sections I have never walked through before. I took a long stop in a recent clear cut to watch a deer feeding on the edge where the trees were saved (this time) from the loggers saw. So serene, I couldn't help but think summer is almost over, and with the end of summer comes hunting season, that dude was ******. My little boo boo didn't feel so bad as I thought about the deer running from one side of the mountain to the other dodging bullets as long as he could to stay alive.
The bike: I tend to want to be different so I went with a campy headset and campy brake levers (campy white hoods). That lead to white tape, saddle, and cables. Doesn't blend in right with the blue frame. A bit too much, time to find some Shimano 600 levers and headset. I should be able to find a black Regal saddle with a little looking. Brakes worked great with the pads adjusted closer to the rim. I had no problem getting the tire on and off the frame to fix flats trailside. The dirt drop setup feels great. I had put together an old Aspen last summer with a retro dirt drop setup and had a good idea what to expect this time around. This frame fits me right on. tme to put those ground controls aside and determine how big a tire I can get inside that triangle and fork for a little more cush.
Made it back to the parking lot and all the cars were gone except two. I never did reel anyone in. But then with all my issues nobody passed me up either. Not nearly enough MTB friendly trails this close to the city, I think it is interesting how so many people can enjoy this trail and still get a little bit of that wilderness feeling.
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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Thread: Ride Report Dirt Drop Ritchey