I rode off road today to finish of a lazy week. I wanted my legs to recover. I soon found that all my road riding has had a cost to it. Whilst my power on the flat is good; my climbing and technical riding were pants. I struggled up the climbs and when we hit the woods the front wheel seemed to have a mind of its own popping off root after root. With each hit I lost another degree of confidence so once we started the descent in the woods over Steyning my nerves were in tatters. I rode like a novice.
I was fortunate on the climb back up in that I had a series of riders to pass, always motivating. My riding partners announced that they had had enough so I decided to head back to the woods to look for my Mojo. I took the same route as before this time less frightened by the terrain. Back down to the bottom and up again to look for the downhill track that I had heard about. I’d let some air out of the tyres and the forks and my confidence began to return. No problems despite the steepness and drops. Three trips down and three climbs back up helped with my technical riding and climbing. Use it or lose it!
I had wanted to ride the Scott Scale 29er Pro but, last minute on Saturday, some one asked to borrow it so I took out an old favourite. The Marin Riftzone is the best suspension bike that I have ridden and just right for our South Downs. It is not the lightest bike and it doesn’t have that much travel but, for me, it is the perfect bike for round here. Why? It climbs faultlessly, on technical sections it has incredible grip, goes exactly where you want it too and will leave any other bike behind. Slippery, technical climbs are effortless; nothing to do with my legs – the bike simply works! The reason why I like it so much is that, despite the limited 100mm travel, the bike inspires confidence. I rode some of the really steep sections, saddle up high, and no thought of crashing and burning. The relaxed head angle, long top tube (I was using a 70mm stem) and super active suspension is what makes this bike so good. For many the 100mm will not be enough, but if you can already ride a bike it is just enough to get you out of trouble. The suspension is very active but works with pure efficiency. Some riders will find the active ride unusual but after a few long climbs you’ll be so confident that the bike is efficient that you’ll be happy that the shock is doing its thing. The ability to react on the flatter sections means that you can enjoy an almost perfect pedal stroke whatever the condition of the trail. And that means faster and faster is better.
Crank Bros new Candy 3 pedals. I have never used Crank Bros pedals before despite the fact that they can claim to be the one pedal to be a genuine alternative to Shimano. However, nothing to report, a pedal is a pedal, they are easier to clip in to and clip out of than Shimano so having no spring adjustment is not an issue. As my shoes have a carbon sole the Candy cage seemed unnecessary but I’ll have to try some Egg Beaters to know. I can thoroughly recommend them but as I have 4 bikes with Shimano plus a fleet of demo bikes I may not be changing over yet and I am still waiting for some new XTR XC pedals.
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