Been Riding in the Mountains Lately

I had this thought while mountain biking recently…

I’m gonna push, click, and shift every knob and lever hanging off this ridiculously wide, flat bar.

At times, that meant I wasn't in the right gear at all, and my seat was dropped too low or high. Remember when, and it wasn't that long ago, mountain biking was like this?

A Manitou suspension was the game changer, back then, in 1994

If you’re a roadie, interested in the dirt again, companies like Scott are offering a whole new equation of fun with significant advances since front suspension was all shiny and new.

So much has changed in 20 years, and the bikes are totally different than the second-generation, production mountain bike I was riding in ‘94. Slack geometry for aggressive trail riding means your body position is forward with elbows out and arms up. Apparently having not used my T-Rex-style, cyclist-adapted arms for anything but steering and steadying myself on a road bike for decades, they hurt worse than my legs after 3 days of lift riding in Park City.

Where the trails merge in Deer Valley.

After the Genius LT, I rode a Scott Gambler and caught some air with it, about the width of a credit card. It maybe the most appropriately named bike since the Tarmac. On it, I broke even.

Compared to levers and switches hanging off the wide-as-a-church-door bar on the Genius, the fewer controls on this bike can be summed up as muscle memory.

A few less controls on this one

With legs like sticks, so tired from standing on the pedals, the only thing occasionally pedaling were my hips. The Gambler took me down the mountain like a Clydesdale that knew its way back to the barn.

What’s interesting about well-executed big-hit bikes is the way they change riding, how you can simply point and shoot; there’s no need to pick up the front wheel or pick a line.

I had this other thought, as I finished up my runs for the day…

There’s a limited amount of time when I can do this and enjoy it. Now is the time to maximize it.

Into mountain biking in ‘94 before switching to road, liking it even more now. Reentering the sport has meant I’m slower, being used to a speed that felt fast then, but the newer technology is way ahead of that.

At first it was simply fun…

Then the aha moment and realization how much better these new bikes are. “Forget about the rear wheel,” Richard from Pinkbike told me. “It’ll follow, just steer the front, focus on the good lines.” Once I let go of all I knew about keeping a cross bike upright in the mud too, it all got easier, like I’d unlocked the next level. On a CX bike, it’s a constant balancing act between the wheels and always pedaling for traction. Leaning into a berm, my mind was only on the next turn, and the distance from A to B.

The riding was the same as the good days, from the rush of clearing a technical section, just faster than I thought possible with a Tange steel frame, and a Manitou elastomer front fork.

It’s ultimately the experience I’m after now, whether on a hard tail, enduro, trail, free ride, or DH bike. And I rode them all in a week.

Issue 15 of Bike Hugger Magazine drops next month like a seatpost on an enduro bike. It’ll include much more dirt and gravel, and ride reports.

Kicked off a week of riding with Scott on this Genius LT Tuned

Cause that’s where the bike is taking us now.