Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Clown Hoops

One last weekend to enjoy beautiful Cali' warm sunshine before I feck off overseas for a couple of weeks and the Autumn chill kicks in. Alas, the Nomad was having brake issues (read - I tried to "adjust" them which of course lead to an immediate trip to the bike shop.) So with my main steed out of action and a potential weekend of no riding, I had the bright idea of renting a bike from Sports Basement. My intention was to get a 6 inch travel all mountain bike and crack on, but then I saw a nice looking Yeti SB95 and decided to give it a spin instead. If I was to ride a different bike, might as well make it something completely different.

The SB95 is Yeti's 29er version of the SB66 (a ride that Chris owns and lights the trails up with each week.) I'd always had a slightly dim view of 29ers. I'm not sure why. To me, they always felt one step away from road bikes.... The guys who ride them are usually lanky, insanely fit and lycra clad and the bikes always looked so stiff and ungainly. Not agile and bombproof like 26er all mountain rigs. I wanted to be proved wrong as the Yeti did look sweet and poised.

Trails of choice were China Camp. I wanted somewhere with some tech, but lots of flow. So me and Eric set out for what ended up being a near four hour epic. We decided to extend the ride a little and take the fireroad out to Hummingbird trail. Along the way we met some sprightly old dudes still shredding well into their 60's. They knew China Camp like the backs of their gnarled hands and took us down the Q trails and Cross Over trail. Narrow, steep, twisty and full of tight switchbacks, these new trails were fun, if not fast. But they tested my skills on the new bike and it felt good to be challenged.

The SB95 felt, for the most part, not a lot unlike a regular full susser 26 XC bike. Easy to boost and only slightly harder to coax into the corners. The ride felt smooth and supple. On steep, techy, slow descents the bike (or at least I) suffered. Adding precise steering into the mixture of big wheels and lots of braking force led to the front wheel becoming skittish very quickly. Bigger knobblies on the rubber would've helped, but I still felt the bane of the wheel's size whenever we hit the steep, narrow dirt. But on the open trails, the thing would FLY like nothing I've ever experienced. A few short cranks would get those big gyros up to speed and the bike would pull like a train. Such a great feeling! But, after a long, dusty afternoon in the saddle, I was happy to give the Yeti back to the fellas at Sports Basement. I missed my Nomad, which is exactly what I hoped would happen.