Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Day Ride, 2010

It seemed like a New Years ride was a good idea so I put out a few emails and phone calls. 18 folks showed up for a ride in Simi Valley on a gorgeous day for January. Usually this New Years ride is held on a semi-distant mountain top in the Angeles Natl. Forest, but I was kinda tired of riding in cold temps and, at elevation, it would have been in the high 30s and mid 40s for the normal ride. So not only was the Simi ride a change of venue, it would mean no cold fingers and toes and that appealed to me.

The ride begins among million dollar custom homes and then climbs 3.25 miles up an old wagon road on hard packed clay and sandstone rock. This is one of the rare smooth sections.

Tony I. flexes a calf muscle as he enjoys a January day in So Cal.

We had a big group and, like sometimes happens, there was a big gap between the fast guys and the slow(er) guys. But, it was all good since we were not in a hurry and we were there for everyone to have a good time. 45 minutes or so and we hit the 1st summit.

Pic stolen from JeffJ's camera.

There were are lot of other riding groups out as well. This pack of guys were wearing their colors for the day. According to their jerseys they are only Fast on Fridays. Good thing it was Friday.

It was good to see some faces I had not ridden with in a long time. That is always a sweet thing. Tony I. and I go back 15 years or so.

Tony I. at the summit looking disappointed the climbing is over with for a while. We had to talk him out of riding back down and doing it again. Animal.

Randy Boy was riding his freshly assembled Tangerine 2010 Rip-9. It is so light it wants to float away, so I had to hang on to it. Does his fork look bent to you or is it just me? Pic stolen from Randy Boy's camera.

I chose to ride the Epic Marathon over my Lev just to see how it worked on, what is for my area, very technical and rough riding. The Lev has lower gears and a bit more stability plus a higher BB. Was it a good fit for the day? More on that later.

The ride began on Johnson Mtwy, hit the summit on Rocky Peak fireroad, turned south to Hummingbird trail and dropped down on a section of winding, rocky, chunky, fun singletrack. Really better on a 5" plus travel bike, the Epic handled it fine, actually better in some ways than my Lev: stiffer front end, better balance and brakes, it danced along nicely behind Tony I. on his Titus Moto Lite and Ted on the Giant Trance. Would I have liked an FSR Stumpy version of the bike for this section of trail? Yes, yes I would. No pics...I was hanging on and having fun.

There is a trail in those rocks somewhere...right down through the middle to the bottom on the right.

You never know what you will see when out riding. Here some MUNIs (Mountain Unicycles) get ready to descend Hummingbird Trail. Seriously...that is soooo hard looking.

CA Descender (with camera on head) gives an interview to the MUNI guys.


At the bottom, poor Scott had graciously waited for the slower guys to show us the way to the next trailhead through some construction areas. The building is shut down till the economy improves (ask Obama....any time now...just wait). Unfortunately it meant that Scott's buddies in the front of the pack were home sipping brews by the time we hit the top of the last climb. Sorry Scott. You get a gold star for that one.

The next part of the ride was a climb up Chumash Trail. Mostly smooth, but with a constant grannygear grade, Chumash has some techy stuff near the top that hits you when your legs are the most tired. I was worried about the Epic's SRAM XX 2x10 gearing and the 26x36 low gear but it was actually better than I thought it would be. Still, if I had been really tired, it would have been too tall a gear.

The boys get to the top of Chumash on a section of sandstone that is much steeper than it looks on camera.

At the top of the last climb. By now the clouds had come in and it was getting cool. Still, it beats freezing rain and snow.

The rest was a blast down the checkerboard rock and ruts of Johnson Mtwy till we hit the trucks again. 5 hours of riding and hanging out on a New Years Day. The Epic was very capable all day. I have come to appreciate the 2x10 gearing and I sure see how racers would like it. I still want deeper gearing, but it is almost good enough for me, and if I was a stronger rider, it would be.

I would have liked more travel and a shallower head angle for Hummingbird Trail, but really, the Epic continues to impress me as a very capable and fast climbing, agile, light to mid weight trail bike. I could have done it on the Lev, but I would have been giving up some steering precision and a bit of rear travel in the process.

1 comment:

Randy said...

Great ride you put on New Year's Day Mike. Johnson Mountain Motorway was Chunkalicious, weather couldn't have been better, and the company was fast!

Thanks for doing it!