We've all heard about the guy who runs out and buys the bright red sports car to compensate for his fading manhood. As for me, I bought a mountain bike. Like, with about 15 minutes of forethought.
I was gonna test ride it -- really, seriously! But this mysterious other buyer was circling around, and my friend selling the bike said I might want to move fast. I figured, what the hey! So I have almost no idea what to do with it. I want to learn more about single-track riding. It's a gorgeous bike. I'll grow into it.
I was wrong.
I rode that stunning beauty four times, and never once had a really good time. It was like being on someone else's bike. The 700c wheels -- my norm -- felt huge with those fat tires sitting on them. I couldn't really get over very much that I couldn't get over with the much narrower tires on my beloved, fully rigid Vaya. Between all that air in the tires and the suspension fork, I just couldn't feel the surface of the trails or roads, which led to worse handling, not better.
Maybe it's just too advanced a bike for me, or maybe I need a 26er; my friends who race say that smaller wheels allow them to pick their way through the rocks, roots, and tight turns of New England more nimbly. Or maybe I just wasn't built for mountain bikes.
Saturday, after another frustrating ride, I called the shop and asked my pal if he'd take the Mariachi back as a straight trade for the Vaya I had swapped. He was very understanding, and to my great relief, said simply, "Sure!"
I grew up a road rider, and perhaps I'll always be defined by that provenance. But that doesn't mean I don't like to get dirty. Salsa's Web site says of the Vaya, "Designed to take on any surface that someone might consider a road." In the end, that might neatly describe yours truly, as well.