Saturday, January 28, 2012

First of the year

Today I was up and at 'em early. Well, not up that early, but I did get out of the house for a mountain bike ride at quarter after 8. I call this a "break of day" ride. The light was just starting to arrive as Marshall and I walked down the road from home over to where the trail starts. My breath was visible in the wee hours. I didn't really expect to find what I did, maybe it was just wishful thinking.

I bought my Marin East Peak used in April 2011. It was traded in at the local bike shop in Cumberland and it had many upgrades from stock. I was thrilled, and on a little bit of an impulse, I dropped the cash and brought it home.(read about it here)

After riding it last spring and summer, something just wasn't quite right. The rear brake was constantly giving me problems. I replaced the pad and rotor. When I would engage the brake it would squeel and squawk and not stop with any kind of certainty. It began shifting crappy as well as changing gears when I least expected it. That always seemed to happen while ascending a hill. I would lose all momentum and stop. Beyond that issue with climbing hills, there was something else just not right. I couldn't roll over roots, rocks and other debris smoothly and the bike wanted to stall. I was very frustrated by the whole thing, feeling like I bought a junk bike and I was ready to sell it.

Two weeks ago, aware that the days are flying by and getting closer to spring, I brought the ride into Trail Bikes, in Courtenay. It was the right choice. I have dealt with most other local shops for various bikey things, but never with Trail. I wanted a small shop that was not as busy and more personal to help me trouble shoot the problems. I explained the symptoms and the mechanic was able to go over it and fixed the problems that I was having. Again, new rear brake pads, bleed the brake line, new cassette, new chain, cleaned and lubed, plus added more air to the shock. I had a feeling that the reason the bike was stalling was because the shock was compressing and not having enough pressure to rebound, thus all the energy from the cranks was absorbed into it. Upon filling the shock it was discovered that it would lose air. It was decided to send it off for service and make it like new again.

Today was the first chance I had to mount the newly repaired steed. Unfortunatly, the roads and trails were covered with snow and ice. This made for quite a challenge. If you have ridden in these conditions you will know what I mean. The ruts will toss your front wheel around and the snow will give under the power of the rear wheel. Very tricky indeed. I was laughing and shouting "Whoa" while trying to gain altitude up to the trail head. The grin was not leaving my face today. Marshall was running beside me having a ball, slipping as well. I finally did some "hike a bike" to climb the one big rise and got over to Lower Crafty. A icy trail welcomed me and the bike and I slipped and slided along. Too much fun. This was the first time in five months that I had been on a bike. I was rusty and that was magnified with the abhorrent conditions. As I approached Space Nugget, which meanders in the forest, I was thrilled to see that it was clear of the white stuff. I was able to feel the suspension and what a difference. Roots that would have stalled me last season were rolled over with ease. The new cassette has a lower bottom gear and was able to easily spin up hills that would have brought me to a stand still previously. I am unsure if the rear brake is really up to my standards of how it should perform, but will give it a few more rides to break in the new pads before I go in for more service.

I nearly hit a couple trees in my un-practiced state, narrowly avoiding what would have been an epic crash. Just so much joy that this bike finally worked almost perfectly for me today, I didn't care how sloppy I was. Soon enough the days will be long enough that riding in the evening after work will be possible. Great time to "Find Adventure" on my mountain bike.

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