We received this great photo from Patrick in Tennessee. It’s his Sola 27.5 in Swimming Pool Blue with Red decals on the Ridgeline trail in the DuPont State Forest just outside of Brevard, North Carolina.
I love my bike! It’s the best handling bike I’ve ever ridden. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and can’t say enough good things about it! So much fun!!!
I hope you and the rest of the crew are doing well and having a great summer!
One of the best compliments we get about our bikes is that they look clean, which is not to say “not dirty” but that their lines are clean and true and simple. The recent release of SRAM’s eTap components suggests builds are going to get even cleaner. Check out these two very different builds from our friends at Cascade Bicycle Studio, the first an Axiom SL, a straight-ahead road bike with a little bit of Chris King bling to set off the single-color paint job.
The second one is a refined 650b Airheart SL travel bike. Matching Brooks leather saddle and bar tape are classy finishing touches, and the travel readiness only begins with the S&S couplers. Check out the split, hammered fender, too. This is a high example of the intersection of form and function. eTap only makes this one easier to pack.
It isn’t summer yet, just April’s end, but there are buds on the trees, the sun rises higher in the sky every day, and we can begin to see all the riding options summer will give us. Our New England trails are drying out. The sunrise is early enough to get out on the road on a Saturday before the cars have woken up. The options are nice to have, though they sometimes necessitate more than one bike.
Flat bars or drop? Skinny tires or fat? One seat or two? In summer, it almost doesn’t matter what you choose.
The log that crosses the service road, moments from the start, had stopped my progress each of the four previous rides. As had the challenge of the first hill. I could make it to the top, but was panting and wheezing so heavily at the peak that I couldn’t partake in the jump that came soon after. Everyone else made that jump look awesome.
The final hurdle, before crossing the street into Rock Meadow, is a line of jagged rocks that runs right through the trail and looks imposing.
I gave only a halfhearted effort before putting a foot down. So scared I was. Throughout each of those rides, there were a number of obstacles that gave me trouble, slowed me down, or stopped me altogether.
I learned, or rather relearned, little things, important things, every thing, basic stuff like when you ride over rocks and roots, even small ones, your butt gets bucked off the saddle, so it’s best to hover even if you’re tired. You have to lean over the front wheel on steep climbs to avoid the wheel lifting off the ground. If there is a rider in front of you, give them time and space to clear technical sections. On really steep downhills, it helps to get way off the back of the bike, behind your saddle, for extra control. Pull up on the bars when you ride over a drop. No matter how thirsty you are, your water bottle is useless until you are stopped. Trees are everywhere and have surprisingly little give.
Around every corner was another reminder of a lesson I once knew.
Five rides in, however, and there have been improvements. I made it over the log. There was enough left in the tank to get an inch or two of air off the jump.
Brimming with confidence, I gave a wholehearted effort, and made it over the line of rocks. They didn’t seem so jagged this time. In Rock Meadow, I continued to do better, and took a huge step forward. I started relaxing on the bike. The difference is amazing. My grip on the bar loosened. I squeezed the brake levers less, which opened me up to a little rhythm through the twists and turns.
Best of all, I could stop focusing on myself, and start paying attention to the sites and sounds of the ride, and joking with my friends. I still have a ways to go, and endless areas to improve upon, but it’s great to be on the trail to once again considering myself a mountain biker.