Thursday, October 19, 2006

Drunken Monkey Takes Little Blue Pills

No actual monkeys were harmed in this test.

What do you do when all of your little suspension components are kaput?

Feed the Drunken Monkey some little blue pills and watch him magically grow a rigid fork. That’s right, last night was my first attempt (in a very long time) to ride my SS with no suspension fork.

I had it in my mind all day that I was going to do this if my suspension fork couldn’t be fixed at the shop. However, I thought that I was going to just do a urban/dirt ride. Once I got the fork on the bike, I heard the call of the woods and decided to go trail riding instead. Wait a tic, let’s go back to the shop visit.

I walk into the shop where I left my suspension fork yesterday and say

“were you able to get some oil in the fork for me?”
Response: “No, we are going to send it off.”
Jonathon: “WHAT? I don’t think so, why can’t you just put oil in it here?”
(I must interject here. Last time I let them “send a fork off,” well let’s just say it was a fiasco)
Response: “Well (insert shop owner’s name), doesn’t want us to do it because we don’t have the manual.”
Jonathon: “Please just give me the fork back and could you shorten this steer tube on my rigid fork and put a star nut in for me?”

Thank the lord he realized my frustration and quickly worked on the rigid fork for me so I could swap it out once I got home. So we can return back to the ride now.

Let me fist say, our trails at Paris ROCK! It has rained and rained and rained this week. I saw a little sunshine yesterday and still there was no standing water or mud puddles on the trails. Incredible!

Driving out to the trails, I told myself just to take it easy and try not to have any “off the bike experiences.” Well, I didn’t have any off the bike experiences and I didn’t take it easy.

I parked at the bottom of the mountain (yes it can really be called a mountain) as usual and proceeded on my normal warm-up route up Sulphur Springs. The steering with the new fork was much quicker and it took me a mile or two to figure that out but once I did it was all gravy. Going up was cool. The bike was lighter, the handling worked out well and I was getting in the groove.

I didn’t have much time so I really had to ponder what trail to do after Sulphur to make my “test” worthwhile. I figured there was no better way to test the fork then to take it down my favorite downhill Brissy Ridge. How bad could it be right?

Let me explain this downhill. It starts off with a little drop and then you have some big root clusters. The trail shoots down into a gully and back up. Then it is just fast with lots of roots and one drop at the end and you’re done. It is relatively short.

How would I describe riding down this with the rigid fork? The only thing that comes to mind I don’t want to type here. It shakes the frickin crap out of you. I had to pause for a second on the downhill to make sure I could still hold onto the bars. I didn’t really check my speed that much and I paid for it.

I took the road back to the top of the mountain and got set for my favorite trail. I flew up the road! How do I know? It was the first time I have sat down and spun all the way up. Normally I have to stand in spots.

Sulphur Springs back down the mountain to my car. This time I stopped and let out some air in the front tire. That made things a little softer and I had a blast like normal coming down.

I did make some observations:

The Surly fork is stiff, super stiff. I would like to try a custom fork and see if the dampening helps any.

I also noticed that the little things make a big difference now. If I rode like this all the time, I would need new grips. It was humid and considering the bars were jumping around like a bunny rabbit trying to get away from a fox, they were hard to hold onto.

All in all, I observed that in most spots I went the same speed. Downhills would have to be slower for safety reasons and the fact that I don’t have Popeye arms.

I could probably cancel my gym membership if I decided to stay this way.

Going up is most definitely faster.

It was a great day in the woods once again.

See you this weekend! We have six people committed so far. . .

3 comments:

Arleigh said...

what kind of fork is it and what's going wrong with the darn thing?

allan said...

Still thinking about razorback? It's definitely a fun place and Gone Riding usually puts on a good event. Least, I remember them doing so.been a while since I raced one and even then it was only a few regular xc races about 5 or 6 yrs ago.

ExtrmTao said...

Arleigh,

The one on the Monkey is an old old Marzoochi. I accidentaly let some oil out, so I just need to fill it back up.

Allan,

Yes, I am still thinking about Razorback. I have to check the dates as I will be on vacation in Feb as well.