Friday, October 20, 2006

In the Jose

Tuesday brought an early trip to el aeropuerto. Susan and I woke the kids, threw 'em in the car with some chocolate milk and rolled out.

This was a trip with the kids from SRAM to check out some new Rock Shox product. They flew my monkey-ass out to San Jose to hook up with the kids at Trail Head Cyclery. My buddy Lars runs that place and he's a good rider. He knows his stuff and that shop is THE PLACE to go if you live in the Bay Area and like to ride big bikes, really fast. I learned a lot working for Lars at Trail Head back in 1997 and we've managed to cobble together a friendship over the past 10 years.

Tuesday evening was spent in the shop with the boys of Trail Head and SRAM going over some of the new product from Rock Shox. Big Ed and Mike ReisenReisen (heh) brought a few forks to bolt on plus a few demo bikes. We had a few beers, talked shop (sorry for the pun) and talked trash, always a shop favorite.

Wednesday morning started early. Big Ed was our designated shuttle driver, Lars had a new Lyric hanging off the front of his Enduro and I was provided a Santa Cruz Nomad with a new Lyric on the front, a two-step, no less. We got some Peet's and headed over to the shop to meet up with Lars and we cruised off to Rattlesnake in the Santa Cruz mtns, right near Loma Prieta off of Summit Rd. It's a few mile descent worth a few thousand feet on a super-fast fire road with drop options and some killer 15' wall rides and 3-4' waterbars with nice off-camber landings. It's pretty loose at the bottom and generally loose all over the place. It drops down to the entrance/exit of Soquel Demo Forest (of Demo 8/7 fame).

We managed three runs on Rattlesnake then shuttled most of the way to the top of Soquel Demo but we rode singletrack most of the way to the top and down into Braille, one of my most favoritest trails on the planet. It's really fast the whole way down and it's relentless. Fast, swoopy, loose, rocky turns with the occasional log-ride to 4 footer options, all at speed. It used to be called 'Not a Trail,' like most of the historically cool trails in NorCal, but the locals managed to save it when the rangers found it. It was built back in day when everybody (us) were riding singlespeeds, hardtails, vee brakes... Now, it's big-bike time in NorCal and a lot of lines have opened and closed to allow for more speed and more drops.

The day ended back at Trail Head. We got the staff together and hit all-you-can-eat Sushi not too far from the shop. They didn't make any money on us, let me tell you. 11 of us ate and ate and ate. I should have taken pics of THAT! It was an epic feast, especially when you consider that I didn't eat all day, with the exception of that huge coffee at Peet's. Peet's is good, if you've never had it.

Ok, so the fork... The new Lyric is pretty sweet. You get coil with Uturn or 2-step with a travel adjust or the solo air, which is just 160mm. It's a 20mm thru with Maxle and comes in 1 1/8" AND 1.5" steer versions. It's got low-speed and high-speed compression damping, rebound damping and a gate setting, much like other RockShox forks. It's 35mm stanchions did a good job of keeping everything pointing in the right direction. The adjustments were intuitive (for me) and I managed to get the fork pretty dialed after our first run. I continued to mess with it most of the day (especially for the climbs, using the 2step travel reducer) and had a good time with it. It was the best part of the ride for me. My confidence was not at it's peak all day but I did manage to ride all of the stuff that I aimed at.

While I'm not a Santa Cruz bikes fan, this Nomad thing made it worse for me. You can keep your 1997 VPP technology and I'll keep to the 1991 FSR stuff. Not only that, but the Conti tires on that bad boy ruined me. Not a fan before... not a fan now.

Enough negativity, eh? I need to throw out a huge thanks to Ed and Mike at SRAM for making this all happen. And I need to thank Lars, Shawn, Ford and the rest of the crew for putting up with all of us in the shop. We tried to make up for it good feedback and lots o beer.

For pics we have a couple o Yetis and a couple o forks from Trail Head's lineup in the shop. Not shown are the 1/2 dozen Fox 40s, the Marz 888s and the Maverick DUCs. Next comes the King showcase, Mike jumping out of the truck with Lars and the fleet, Big Ed in the wee morning hours, the view down to Big Sur from the top of Rattlesnake looking South and the end-of-day wrap-up after climbing out of the Demo Forest. Poor us...

So, the future is looking like a Diablo for me with a Cane Creek double-barrel shock and a Totem fork. We'll see how that plays out. I'd like to get to a few DH races next year but my main concern is injuries. Maybe I'll sit out the SM100 next year... Maybe not...

And finally, the 07 Jamis site is up so go check it out. Did I mention that already?


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