24 June, 2011

Crash Course in Full-Suspension

Things have been quite a bit hectic lately, at work and home.  On bright spot is that (conveniently) on my 9th wedding anniversary, I brought home a new Superfly 100.  Thanks On Two Wheels!

Need a new license plate next year, maybe "Suprfly"?

I picked the bike up on Wednesday, and came home to start setting things up.  Seat height and position were easy based on my SF-SS.  Unfamiliar tires with tubes will take some trial and error.  I have some Bontrager tubeless strips coming, but just aren't here yet.  Put on some new ESI Chunky grips, but waiting on my Fi'Zik Tundra to arrive.  Setting the sag on the shocks was a bit more tedious.  I started with the recommended values, and ended up dropping the pressures quite a bit to get the recommended sag.  I knew there was only one way to know for sure and suddenly came down with some sort of 24 hour virus.  I don't know if it was something I ate, but it prevented me from working yesterday.

I woke up to another dreary day, but it was not raining.  Things were damp, but the sidewalks were dry, so that was good enough for me.  I had grand plans, a trip to Poto, a loop around Highland, and then a stop by Anderson on my way home.  I loaded up the bike and took off towards Pinckney.

Now, after tooling around the cul-de-sac the evening before, I knew things would be different.  For starters, I was now riding a bike 46% heavier than I was used to.

I got to Poto and the lot was pretty much empty.  Apparently people were concerned with the weather.  I took off up the trail, trying to remember this whole shifting thing.  I threw the front into the big ring and left it there.  Now my shifting chores were 50% easier, just use my right thumb.  I was somewhat used to Shimano shiters, so I kept trying to shift using my thumb and forefinger.  I realized right away things were a lot noisier than the SS.   All the clicking, squishing, and chain bouncing were noticeable.  However, without Chris King behind me, things were a lot quieter coasting.

I thought a lot more "thinking" would be required.  I don't believe that was so much the case, instead of surveying the best lines and positioning, I would just point an shoot, clicking up the gears when I needed to.  The biggest obstacle was not standing up for everything, and letting the suspension do its job.   Same amount of thinking, just different topics.

I made it through Poto well enough.  There were some muddy hike-a-bike areas, but overall conditions were good.  I tipped over once going uphill when my back tire lost traction.  That was the biggest difficulty in climbing, rear traction.  I aired down a bit, and it seemed to help.

Loaded up the (now slightly dirty) bike and headed north to Highland.  The ride over was just long enough to eat a PBJ and dry my socks a bit.

  The lot at Highland was completely empty.  I thew my dirty jersey and (now warm) wet shoes back on, wiped off some sand from the chain and continued my inaugural day of riding.  Besides a big mud hole in the beginning, Highland was in good shape.  There were a couple of slick spots, and I fell once when the rear lost traction on a fast sweeper.  I had planned on doing the Full A-D, but after finishing C, I was feeling a bit spent, dirty, and the rain was starting to come down with some force occasionally, so I passed on D.

I loaded back up, hungry, dirty, tired, and moist.  I started to head home, and Garmin told me of a 5:15 arrival.  My decision to skip 'D' was a good one, as there were some storms soon after I left the park.  Along the way home, I decided I did not want to kill an hour before going to Anderson for the group ride, so my trifecta trail run became a bifecta.

All in all, it was a good day.  Plenty of alone time to do some introspection, try out the new bike, and just pedal.  I had 2 different type courses, one with some fast, rough downhills, and another tight twisty, climbing.
I thoroughly enjoyed my ride(s).  It was different, equally demanding physically, and rewarding just the same.

So in order to compare the 2 rides, consider 2 chairs.  One is a folding metal chair, the other is an overstuffed La-Z-Boy.  The metal chair is good because it is light, you can move it anywhere, but you have to be more conscious of placement (OK, I am grabbing at straws with that last one, but you know what I mean).  The recliner is very comfortable, but not as portable.  Another thing is sometimes, I would forget about the footrest.  Maybe my analogy isn't so great, but you get what you pay for.

I love the SS for its simplicity.  The "Get on and pedal" mentality suits me well.  If there is a climb, you stand up and pedal.  Rough spots, stand up.  It is all about conserving momentum and proper lines.  The 100 is point and shoot, not as much concern about the "where".  You stay seated to reap the benefits of the system.  Sit and spin up the hills, hammer and pound back down them.  It is a yin-and-yang relationship between the two rides.

I was worried that I would pick a favorite ride and have one expensive garage hanger. Now I think I have different bikes for different moods.  Do I want to be quiet and simple, or hammer and squish?  I think the gearing will help my offroad training.  I am not sure what races I will do on which.  Still gonna look for the CPS overall on the SS, but will try to get some race time on the 100.  I will probably do some endurance races on the 100.  Heck, I may bring both bikes and alternate, just to see how it feels.

The children...

Today I am back at work, legs tired from a day spent trying to out-pedal my problems.  2 races on tap for the weekend, now I have to remember how to ride rigid again.  See you on the trails.

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