Yesterday, I got to sneak out of the office early for a meeting in Saint Paul. Thankfully, the meeting went well and my wife encouraged me to go for a ride. OK then. Off to Lebanon Hills I went.
It was a glorious day. The heat and humidity broke. I was riding my El Mariachi with a new White Bros IMV fork. A perfect day for product testing. I couldn't wait. As I prepared my bike and started rolling to the trail, two of my buddies also riding 29" wheeled bikes (a Niner and a Waltworks) were just finishing a lap. Perfect timing. What could be better than an afternoon riding with friends and testing new equipment?
Both Kevin and Tom were riding 29" Singles and I had my El Mariachi set up as a 1x9. These guys are fast...Really fast. As we took off, I thought what the heck, I only have 2 hours to ride today so I'll push it today and do my best to keep up. Kev immediately went off the front and Tom and I rode together and BS'ed for a while. As the pace picked up, I picked a bad line through a rock garden and hit the ground pretty hard. I got a few scrapes, bruised ego and a sore wrist. It was a bummer because I've cleared this section about 100 times already this year with zero dabs.
Other good news today was that a new section of trail was opened. It's nice. It needs to be worked in, but with all the traffic this trail gets, that shouldn't take long. The new section adds some technical difficulty to a pretty simple flowing downhill. This is good news for me as I was able to catch up to Kevin. We finished the lap, talked a bit. They were finished and I headed out for another lap to actually do some product testing.
The new IMV fork is pretty darn cool. This fork is a custom 80mm with thru axle. It's stiff. For bigger folks thinking that the big wheels and the long forks are flexy, this IS the set up. At times, it felt like the first time I rode a Marzocchi QR20 on my old freeride bike. It was immediately obvious how much stiffer this fork felt. Simply awesome. I did some fiddling with the IMV valve. It works really well. I like forks that actually move pretty freely, so I ended up setting it at the lightest setting so the fork remained fully active. I tweaked the air pressure and the rebound as well. I ripped another lap out. Awesome fork. If the reliability has improved from White Bros forks of past, I think that this could be my new favorite fork. I'll update later because a few hours on a fork isn't long enough to really test it right.
One last product note. 1x9 simply works so well. Simple. Light. Functional. I'm using an N-gear jump stop on the inside and a new Salsa Ring Dinger on the outside. I'm trying to get the gearing dialed. I've ridden everything from a 30t to a 36tooth ring in front. Today, I had a 32t and it was really good. Out back I had an 11-34 so I had quite a range. The Ring Dingers are a new product for us and aren't even on our website. They are in stock at QBP. $40 msrp. It is essentially a light outer ring replacement that provides a little tooth protection and also keeps the chain in place so it doesn't go over the outside. If your interested, look at our Crossing Guards on the Salsa website. The Ring Dingers are a scaled down version.
Sorry this got so long. Riding just feels so good. Riding rules. If you can find a way to sneak out of the office early, do it.
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Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.