Monday, August 22, 2011

A Fling Forgiven

Well, when you're pushing 50, these things happen.

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!"

It's good to have that bike back in the stable where it belongs. I plan to lay slightly fatter rubber on it, maybe 40 or 43 mm, so I can reel in those those nasty gravel and washed-out fire roads a bit more handily. But nothing like the 2.2" tires on the Mariachi. Beasts, they were.

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.


Juancho said...

Whoa! I'm dizzy from the whiplash. It doesn't really matter what you ride as long as you ride the shit out of it.

Velosopher said...

I've already been on two more rides on the Vaya and enjoyed them immensely.