Road the Qball Monster on a mix of single and dual track for the first time with the fatties and holy cow, what a nice ride. After riding the Dillinger, constantly, for so long I can now tell the difference between steel and aluminum. The other thing that I figured would appeal to me was riding rigid with gears. Getting into that lower range, regardless of the lack of suspension, allowed me to just cruise right up technical ascents. The only thing that could have made the ride better would have been different bars.
|South Pond Road|
The Salsa Woodchippers are great on dirt roads and dual track where quick checks in speed are not necessary but the positioning for riding singletrack is not ideal. Primarily because to get to the levers you need to be down in the drops and your body forward and while this works for descending it puts you out of position for the typical style of riding on New England Single Track. But hey, this is the first time, and before I try something different, I need to ride some different trails so more to truly find the right feel for them.
Of course, one thing I need to change right away is the stem. Right now I have a 70 degree rise, 135 mm long stem and it feels like I might be too stretched out. I think I shortened the stem, that is going to pull the bars back which will help in getting to the brakes and keep my body more centered on the frame.
I have been toying with putting inline levers on the upper, flat surface of the bars. You see these on my CX bikes today and they look like they would give you an extra measure in caution when you are on trails that don't require a lot of leverage you would need on more technical trails by being down in the drops. For example descending on many of the carriage trails at Huntington.
I rode out of the Upper Dodgingtown lot and down the carriage trail to the single track connector to the Lower Dodgingtown lot and into the Big Burn. There was this guy on a C'dale looking like he was waiting for someone and as I headed into the Big Burn he followed. He passed me on the first climb in while I figuring out what was the best position for climbing and through out the Burn we shadowed one another. Out on the AT&T Cable trail we stopped to introduce ourselves and I offered to ride together.
After the Big Burn we headed up the blue trail and found this blowdown. While it blocks the blue trail there is an easy go around and this would make a great skinny. Just have to work on the Tranny at the start because the root base is kind of in the way. We continued on the blue to the big climb past the mica mine turn off. I began a good run but dropped my chain between a down shift and took a Muligan. This time I called on Granny's help and powered all the way up the hill. Not sure if I ever made this climb on my SSer before.
Then we took the single track connector, which someone rattle canned blazed in yellow which I cannot understand why because even with the leaves down, if you can't see there is a trail there you shouldn't be in the woods! This trail intersects with the trail that heads into the Newtown section of the park but we turned away from that part of the trail and rode the other way back towards the cable trail. Then it was a short hop over to the green trail and descend down Little Vomit, which by the way was really washed out.
From there we rode to the red trail and then took the connector over to the blue trail. The stream on this section of trail was at full capacity but the armoring on the stream crossing was perfect. We climbed up the blue, took a run on the South Pond single track and then climbed up the new gravel connector to South Pond. We parted company at the Rock and Roll trail. I went back to do another loop on the carriage trails. It was a nice 8 mile ride on a beautiful and cold late fall day.
|On the red trail|
I definitely need to get back to Flander's Nature Center on this bike and also check out some of the side trails off the Woodbury Trolley Trail. The lower tire pressure with the fatties make the uneven surfaces much more enjoyable.
For Single Track Drop Bar riding - it looks like you'd do better with a shorter stem with more rise to get the "hooks" more level with your saddle.
Yeah, that is what I am looking for now. What would you recommend?
That looks very similar to what I am seeking for my next Road/Cyclocross/RailTrail/Touring Bike that can be used as a SS 29er as well...
Sweet Ride!!! Nice story to go with it...
your descriptions of the rides mesh nicely with the photos....what would you recommend for an entry level mtn bike?
@Ben. Depends on your budget and your level of commitment. You could go out and spend somewhere between $300 and $500 on an OK hardtail and see if off road riding is your thing. You might even be able to cheaper with Craigslist of Ebay.
On the otherhand, if you know this is right for you, then go full suspension and build up some miles and experience. Then as your skill improves, branch out into something tasty or eclectic like a 29er.
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