Monday, March 8, 2010
Going into the weekend, I had high hopes of taking the newly built up Superfly to the Cape for a first date. Even though the snow was gone locally, there is still much frost in the ground here. The local trails won't drain until the frost is gone. This will take at least a month in shady or north facing areas. It is bad etiquette to ride muddy trails, and I don't enjoy it anyway. It trashes the bike.
The Cape, on the other hand, stays warm enough to not develop frost in the ground. The sandy soil base drains extremely well. Mud rarely exists on the trails I'm familiar with. I knew parts of the Cape had gotten some snow last week. I thought surely it would have melted on Saturday when temps rose into the 50's. So when I got up to check webcams and the NEMBA forum, I was crushed to still see snow from the Bourne Rotary webcam and see reports from Otis that there was 4" of hike-a-bike snow on north facing slopes. One way or another, I was riding my new bike, but not in snow and not in mud.
Poking around a bit more in the NEMBA forum, a rider reported the "Exit 7" trails were fine. This was much further east on the Cape than Otis. I hadn't ridden there before, but my desire to break in the new bike overruled the extra 20 minutes or so to drive there.
Just like at Rangeley the day before, a fine spring day was expected everywhere Sunday morning. I loaded up the xD and split early. As I approached the Sagamore Bridge, I was dismayed by how much snow was still on the ground on north facing slopes. I thought surely I'd be riding in some snow, as Exit 7 of Rt 6 was not that far away. I pass the Trail of Tears Exit 5 with plenty of snow in shady spots. My attitude was turning pretty sour. But in two more exits, the snow diminished. Not disappear, but close to it. Optimism returned.
It was already quite warm heading out, maybe 40's. With bright sun, just knee warmers would have been adequate. It took me a bit to find the trail entrance. There is no designated parking area, no signs. I headed in along Rt 6, noting many singletrack spurs to my left. When I reached the far end of the property, I started following a narrow singletrack loop that had been raked or blown free off all organic material. In fact, about 90% of the trails here had been cleaned. I have mixed feelings on this. The organic material, oak leaves and pine needles, can help control erosion. On the other hand, cleaned trails lets you rail singletrack. And rail I did. This stuff was boat loads of fun. Steeply rolling in many areas with G-out drops. Cleaned trails meant you didn't have to scrub any speed into turns. In fact, most of the turns were gently bermed so you could really lean the bike over.
So how did the bike work? In a word, flawless. I did not have to make even one adjustment. It was 100% dialed, right out of the box so to speak. I did dawdle in my neighborhood a few days prior to get fit adjusted right. But everything else worked perfectly on the trail. Most notable was how stiff this bike is. Everything from wheels through frame. There is zero bottom bracket flex, something that bothered me when I test road a Specilized S-works 29er. The Superfly is 100% purebred racing machine, not an all-day New England rocks and roots epic machine. The bike handled as nimbly as my Dean 26" hardtail. It climbed extremely well, better than my Dean I'd say. I suspect longer contact patch on rooty and rocky surfaces help smooth out some of the choppiness that tends to spin out the rear tire while climbing.
I rode over 15 miles of singletrack before popping out on the road in search for other bits of trail. I found some singletrack in Dennis Pond Conservation Area, then headed south towards Hyannis to ride a bit long the coast on pavement. The Hutchinson Toro tires I have on the Superfly right now are not particularly fast on pavement, but they did hook up well on buff singletrack. For the morning, I rode about 32 miles in 2.9hrs with temps climbing into the 50's.
This is my best new bike build yet. I'd say it surpasses my experience when I first road my Dean Ti hardtail over 9 years ago. Having three opportunities to ride big wheels last year, I pretty much knew what to expect regarding how they roll over stuff better. What exceeded my expectation is how efficient the Superfly feels. Sure, it is my lightest hardtail, but the stiff frame and wheels make for lightning quick power transfer. I have a feeling this one will be a keeper.