Pinky be leakin

Posted by SuperClydesdale on March 14, 2011 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I did the Salmon Falls Trail again.    Today’s ride included a hairy little single-track option in the middle called “Mickey Mouse.”   I figured anything called Mickey Mouse couldn’t be all that bad, could it?

I rode my full-suspension 26er – the Stumpumper FSR Comp —  the one I’ve decided to sell.  After my last ride on Salmon Falls, my back (and its ruptured disc) was killing me, so I decided that I’d try it on the 26er to see what a difference a full suspension would make on the downhills.  Salmon Falls has such sharp rocks littered throughout, that the hard tail 29er was just beating me up.   I thought I’d see what a plush ride might be like.

One of the reasons why people go to Flagstaff Mountain are the great views of Folsom Lake, and the Sacramento Valley. This is a shot half-way down Mickey Mouse.

One of the reasons I am going to sell the full-suspension 26er is that I don’t ride it anymore.  This is my first ride on it since buying the 29er.   I have become so accustomed to the 29er that the first several miles felt very strange.  I’ve put wider handlebars on the 29er as well, and the narrow bars of the 26er left me feeling out of control.  I remember reading about the benefit of wider bars, and adopted them at the recommendation of a friend of mine who does quite a bit of racing.  I can now personally attest to the benefit of longer bars.  The sensation of trying to steer the bike down a narrow trail was… bizarre.  Wider bars means less “twitchiness” – it takes more movement of the bars to have an effect.   I was oversteering constantly, and just felt out of control.  I was tempted to go back home and grab the 29er, but thought “what the hell?  I’ll muscle through this.”

Big mistake.   I didn’t know enough about Mickey Mouse.

Salmon Falls is a great, easy ride, with a number of narrow little technical spots to spice things up.  It’s all pretty tame single track and fire roads.   My newest addition adds some narrow country roads with significant climb.  These paved roads take you to another part of the trail, and presents some new options.   When you get to the highest point on the ride,  which goes up a fire road to the top of hill/mountain called “Flagstaff Mountain,” you have two choices.  You can turn around and go back down the fire road, which might be called “the smart option,” or you can find a little break in the brush that becomes the “Mickey Mouse” trail.

Mid-way down Mickey Mouse, there's the remains of a cabin (or something). You ride up the 2x10, then down a 4x8 on the other side. It's a little trickier than it looks. There's narrow slot between two rocks that you have to hit just before the 2x10. On my first attempt, I fell off into the rocks on the left. Second attempt, I stepped off onto the rocks. Third attempt -- success!

The top part of Mickey Mouse is cut into the Manzanita bush, and is about half a bike wide.  If you’ve been around Manzanita, you know that its an extremely hard wood, and forms a pretty dense cover about 8-10 feet high.  It’s got plenty of sharp little branches sticking out.  Pedaling through this part of the trail was probably not a good idea.   I’m covered in scrapes.

The rest of the trail opens up considerably.  It’s about 3/4ths  of a bike wide.  Nothing but blind corners.   Luckily, its so damn steep there was zero chance of another rider coming up the other side.  I don’t think it would be physically possible to ride up the trail I was going down.

Everything about Mickey Mouse is steep.  The downhills are such that I was mostly in a controlled slide.   Ok, “controlled” is a bit of a stretch — but, I did manage to stay on the bike for extended stretches.   I tried to do some manual “anti-lock braking” to keep the back wheel turning, while making sure that the front wheel was always turning.   I knew that if the front wheel started sliding, I was going to lose all control.   It’s a strange sensation to descend this way.   I felt like I was developing a new level of skill, not to mention the fact that I was becoming more manly, facing up to this nasty hill where I’m sure others would get off and walk the bike.  I think I grew a third testical.   Perhaps my new nickname will be “tres pelota”?

The 26er has Kenda Small Block Eight tires on it, which is the absolute wrong tire for Mickey.   There was very little grip, and it made the descents an absolute crap shoot.  Like in real craps, I lost a lot.  I went down more times on this ride than any ride in my life.  Into brush.  Into rocks.  Into poison oak.   If it didn’t hurt so much, it would have been hilarious.  Pinky be leakin.

Following very steep single-track descents were some very steep single track climbs.  Again, so narrow that I could barely stay on the course.  Add to that the lack of control I was experiencing on the 26er, and I found myself forced to un-clip at many spots along the way where I would have been easily able to get through on my 29er.

The ride was an hours-long reminder of why I am never going to ride the 26er again.   The worst part of the experience is that I am trying to sell the bike, and now it has a bunch of new scrapes and dings that it didn’t have when I left.   Stupid idea.

My massive weight on the full suspension also means that my pedals are lower on the 26er than the 29er.   I was constantly banging pedals on rocks that I easily clear on the 29er.  One of these was at pretty high speed on some flats (about 20mph), and I had a major wipeout  as a result.  I landed on a stretch of dirt rather than on rocks – just total luck on that — or I might have had some pretty serious injuries.  I was totally laid out.  I’ll bet that one looked spectacular.

From that crash on, I just kind of cruised back to the car, a broken man.   If anyone had wanted a free Stumpjumper FSR Comp at that time, they would have gotten it.    If it wasn’t such a long ride back to the car, I’d have taken the bike and thrown in into the lake.

The loop I did – and the crashing – took a lot out of me.  I will likely never be able to go to Disneyland ever again.   If I do, I’m going to find Mickey Mouse and kick his ass.

Summary of the ride:

  • One broken chain
  • About 3 actual crashes at speed
  • Approx 10 “fallovers” – low speed crashes that don’t cause (much) bleeding
  • 20 pedal strikes
  • several chain ring strikes
  • Tried to count the number of scrapes and cuts, but it became pointless after a while.  It’s a lot.

Pinky be leakin, indeed.  Pinky need an ambulamps.

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