25 July 2008

The First Ride for the third time.

My first ride on this baby was a dream. I picked the bike up on Friday night. I was pretty tired, so I decided to forgo an evening ride and instead opted for an early Saturday morning ride. Instead of making an early night of it though, I went over to a friend's house and ended up not getting home until around midnight. I quickly fell asleep and just about 2am, I was awoken from a dream where I was riding my new bike on some swoopy single track. I was a bit annoyed at the neighbors or their friends who decided to say their goodbyes on the street outside my window and the sound of an expensive sports car igniting, but the I quickly set myself back to sleep so that I could rejoin the bliss of my single track dream. As usual, I awoke around 5:30, but I laid there in bed for a while. I actually tried to get out of bed at 6am, but with the late night and the disturbed sleep, it just wasn't happening for me. A later ride wasn't an option though because I had to be in San Diego by 11:30 to work the Rainbow Cyclists' Bike Corral at San Diego's Gay Pride festival (the Bike Corral is like a coat check for bikes.)

After working and then wandering around the "Pride Festival" until 4pm I headed home. The idea of a ride was in my head, but with the lack of sleep and being in the hot sun for several hours, my body just didn't have enough energy to put everything together.

On top of feeling physically drained, I also didn't really want to ride alone. I wanted my first ride on the bike to be with one of my long time riding buddies. Part exhibitionist, part egoist, part comrade, the act of riding a new bike for the first time raises a host of complex emotions.
It seemed that none of my riding buddies were in town, so a bit disappointed but filled with excitement, I woke up on Sunday morning ready to try my new bike. I loaded the bike on the roof, put the wheel in the back of the vehicle, and was getting my clothes together when I decided to check my phone. One of my buddies had called on Saturday night. I called him back, and found out that he was about 10 minutes away from one of our usual ride spots.

I asked him if he would wait for me which meant about 10 minutes before I would be able to get all my stuff together and another 25 minutes to drive to the trail head. Surprisingly, he agreed. So, I put my ass in high gear, got everything else that I needed loaded into the car and zipped down the freeway.

From the moment I left the house I was giddy. I was finally going to riding my new bike! I was having a hard time containing myself. I had one of those ear-to-ear grins and it was difficult to maintain a gas-saving speed.

I made it to the trail head and found my buddy waiting. I slipped into my shoes, grabbed my hydration pack, started my HRM and said "Let's go!" We jetted up the to the start of the trail head, chatting and discussing the finer parts of our previous week. Our plan was as normal: ride Sycamore Canyon from just off Mast Blvd. in Santee, up to Goodan Ranch in Poway. Do Martha's Grove and then head back. There's lots of curvy single track, some good climbs, and some technical sections that I usually go around.

It's a "lollipop" ride--out and back, with a loop at the far end. I've ridden there a hundred times so it would be a good place to put the bike through its paces without adding any other variables to the mix.

We started down the trail, the bike feeling very natural under me. The medium sized bike was actually much more appropriate for me than the large framed bike I had been riding. It felt more like an extension of me than a tool to move down the trail.

Everything went very smoothly for about the first 5 minutes. Then I hit a bigger bump and the seat moved so that it was tilted nose up. I stopped, grabbed my multi-tool and fixed the seat. About 5 minutes later the same thing happened, so I fixed it again and this time tightened the little sucker down with a bit more force. I haven't had any problems since.

For most of the ride I was right on my buddy's tail (it's a cute one so I'm not complaining). At one spot where we had a fast/furious downhill, so I hit the remote on the Joplin R seat post to drop the seat. With the seat out of the way, I was moving faster than I had ever allowed myself to go on this trail before. Somehow I managed to get myself into a fairly deep rut that had an abrupt curb like end. I figured it was all over. I figured they were going to be wiping me up off the trail. I rode it though, and the suspension on this bike was absolutely amazing. I didn't even feel like I was in the rut, and with a slight manual, the shocks absorbed the exit point like it was candy.

After that experience, I was feeling really confident; maybe in myself, mostly in the bike. I continued down the hill, remarking to myself how much I like the Crank Brothers Joplin R seat post. I can't ever see myself going back to a static seat post after this experience. As I was zipping down the hill, I got to the curve where it's very sandy. I hadn't thought I was going as fast as I actually was, because I hit the sand and had a much more difficult time knifing through it than I ever had before.

When we made it to Martha's Grove I was excited because there is a point on the trail where it gets very technical. When I first started riding this trail, it was one of those hike-a-bike sections for me, even though I saw lots of people do it. It's a rocky rutted steep drop of about 4 feet. It's possible to roll over it, but it always scared me. Not today though. I just rolled down it like it was no more difficult than a stairway.

The rest of the ride was a blast. I still had that ear-to-ear grin on my face and as I drove home I was still excited.

If it's possible for a man to love his mountain bike, then I'm in love.