Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Hard Return

I'm sorry for being away. I was on vacation and, though I brought my computer with me, I couldn't bring myself to turn it on. I spend most of my life in front of one, yet I really don't miss it at all when it's gone.

I brought my Synapse out to Oregon (my Vacation spot) with me, and left my mountain bike. (I only had room for one.) I really didn't plan on doing a whole lot of off-roading, though that's two-thirds of the riding I ended up doing. Lucky for me, I could borrow my Dad's Cannondale F4000.

Now, normally, I'd be against the idea of riding a hard-tail. However, this isn't any hardtail. Though it is about 8 years old, it is loaded with top stuff--components that even today are high-end. About the only drawback was the fork's travel--70mm just seems so little to me these days. On the flip side, he's running Spinergy Spox wheels. These have massive carbon hubs and some sort of composite (or, at least, non-metal) spokes. They are super light and ride really well. Loaded up with the biggest tires we could fit so I could run low-pressure (each weighing around 1000 grams), this bike still came in under 25lbs. (When I later rode with his light-weight tires, it was under 23, I'm guessing. And that was with a computer mounted!)

Before I go much further, I want to point out that I know there are lots of amazing trails in Utah. I really know that. I know that not all trails in Utah are nasty rocky messes. That's fine.

However, those closest to my home and the ones I end up riding most often are very rocky. This, also, isn't necessarily bad, though I sometimes tire of it.

The North Umpqua Trail
There is a trail in Oregon that follows the North Umpqua river. This trail is aptly named. It is 77 miles of incredible single track. It is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth. I got to ride this trail on Saturday.

I actually didn't want to ride it. I wanted to do another road ride. The temperature, though, was around 106 and very humid, so we decided riding in the shade of the Umpqua forest would make things nicer. The section that was picked was probably the smoothest section of the whole trail. It was windy. It had many bridges over streams, and smaller streams that weren't bridged. There were rocks. There were roots. Neither of these in extremely large quantities. There was a lot of climbing.

In short, it was the perfect ride for a light-weight hardtail. I was in heaven. Although we ended up doing about 4500' of climbing in 12 miles, I stayed in my middle chainring for about 80% of that. Right then and there, I started trying to work out in my mind how I could 1) obtain this bike and 2) move to Oregon--preferably somewhere near this trail so I could ride it all the time.

Mary's Peak
The other trail I rode was up in the mountains outside of Corvallis. The ride was Mary's Peak. Although the area was breath-taking, I was glad to have the huge tires (mentioned above). This trail was extremely technical. Which, by the way, is a lot of fun when on a hard-tail. Or rather, when on a hard-tail for the first time in years. Once again, riding in Oregon was incredible. I wish Oregon were closer.

Future Plans
I am no longer content to let my fully-rigid commuter remain that way. I think I'll put my Manitou Black 100/120 (which is currently just collecting dust) on it. After that, I might see if I can scrounge up a front-deraileur. I had so much fun on that f4000, I want to capture some of that fun for myself.

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