Riding past horse pastures and state parks in and around Hamilton, MA, last weekend, I found myself daydreaming once more about riding off road. I chuckled to myself remembering the wise old proverb, “if all you have is a mountain bike, everything looks like a trail.” Now I am finally understanding the truth of it. In fact, ever since ordering a Sola SL, I have scoured the countryside for trails, parks, and recreation areas. I stare at the woods and drift off, longing for the day I can roll through those very trees.
A few weekends ago, I was hiking the Ledge Hill Trail at Ravenswood Park. High up on a rocky outcropping, the view of Gloucester Harbor, blanketed in winter colors, was Instagram worthy – but instead of taking a snapshot, I pulled out my phone to search “Ravenswood Mountain Biking.” I had to know if bikes were allowed in the park.
What I learned was nothing short of incredible. Not only were bikes allowed, but Ravenswood was just a small piece of about twenty-five thousand acres of parks, forests, and free trails in Massachusetts managed and maintained by the Trustees of Reservations. Many of these parks welcome mountain biking, and just like that, my mountain biking schedule is set.
The timing couldn’t be working out any better, either. Nearly every component for my new bike has arrived. I’m only waiting on the wheels and brakes. Once it’s built, Spring will be knocking on the door. My restless legs bounce just thinking about it.
Because no one in the office wants to hear me talk about it any more (two years of discussion prior to ordering will do that) and because I’m not done yet, I’ll spell out the details in this forum instead.
I have had a soft spot for the Sola SL, since 2004, so I didn’t think twice about the model choice. I knew that a double-butted tube set would be beneficial for at least two reasons: my frame will be big, and I love the look of over-sized titanium tubes. Without butting those tubes, my lanky build would take a beating during the course of a ride. By thinning the tube walls down, I can have a bike that rides like a dream, and meets my oh-so-discerning aesthetic.
Choosing a wheel size ended up being simple as well. I have only ever ridden 26″ wheels, and I wanted to try one of the larger sizes, 27.5″ or 29″. I knew either one would be fun and new, but beyond that, I couldn’t see any overwhelming evidence to suggest one would be better for me than the other. As luck would have it, the fork I wanted was only available in 27.5″ , so the decision was made.
The only real oddity with my bike, or maybe with me, is that I wanted a 150mm travel fork. Surely a 150mm fork is overkill, especially for the relatively mellow riding I’ll use it for. No downhill, no huge drops, and nothing that could be considered extreme to anyone other than my parents. In fact, it will mostly be a cross country rig, with a huge fork. I proposed the idea to the design team, and while they had questions at first, they started to see my vision, and designed a frame that will accommodate the extra travel without hindering its handling. It is amazing what they can do once your measurements, component spec, and vision are in front of them.
Below is the drawing of my very own Sola SL. I think it’s going to be awesome.
And yes, that is a ton of slope and post exposure, two more style requirements.