Papa’s Got a Brand New Bike

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bike

I’m not one to concern myself too much with the opinions of others but there comes a point when enough people point out that your bike’s front fork only appears to have 2 of the 4 inches of travel that it’s supposed to have, that it probably makes sense to take a look at it.

This tipping point was reached in January and I set about trying to service my front fork, it’s worth pointing out that despite having owned this fork for about 7 years and it serving on two different bikes it had never been serviced. It should have come as no surprise that it did not want to be serviced. Like a grumpy old man who refuses to bathe it put up quite a fight. After a couple of hours wrestling with the brute Jim and I gave up and got drunk.

After Googling this issue all the advice was “hit harder with a hammer”, this approach also works for smelly, defiant old men. I was rewarded with limited success. By repeatedly whacking rebound adjuster the tubes eventually released the stanchions, however the process crushed a thread making reassembly impossible. Time for a new fork.

In search of a new fork I inadvertently happened upon the dream bike frame sitting on ebay for very little money. It was 7 years old but still a lot of bike. Figuring that I could harvest most of the bits off the old bike and seeing as I had to buy a new fork anyway I decided it might make sense to start a new project.

For the most part this has been a good plan. Aside from a few incompatible parts having to be returned the build has been successful and I now have a Santa Cruz Tall Boy LT. I did have to borrow a seat post off competitive Jim as my dropper post was 0.5mm too big for the new frame.

It’s first outing was last Thursday and it was not the bike that let me down but my light. Despite the battery being on charge all day the light did not come on when I tested it before departure. It being the 11th hour and with fellow bikers waiting for me I decided to head off and hope someone could lend me a light.

Pete lent me a very decent light but it had to be bar mounted. “So what?” I hear you cry. The problem with this is that your bike is not always pointing where you want or need to see. A bar mounted light moves as you react to the terrain where as a helmet mounted light can remain pointing ahead to reveal the trail regardless what your bike is doing.

The result of this is that you have to take snap shots of what’s coming up as the light on your bars follows the wheels and swings wildly across the path ahead of you. It’s tantamount to using the force.

I gingerly picked my way down the first descent, The Flowhouse, using a combination of strobe effect lighting and memory. I had a slow motion over the bars moment half way down when memory failed me but there was no harm done.

Our second descent was The Devil’s Elbow, a fast rocky path that I’d not done for years. A couple of times I thought I was done for as the wheel straightened out and revealed the boulders and drops ahead too late to do much about avoiding them. It was with a tangible sense of wonder and relief that I reached the bottom unscathed.

Having expected to stumble out of the woods carrying nout but a handle bar and spitting out undergrowth; to find myself at the bottom with my homemade bike in one piece was quite a bonus. It bodes well for next week’s adventure – Bike Park Wales!

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Mark

About Mark

I ride with a group blokes that I know from various areas of my life, some I see weekly, for others it is every couple of months for a weekend of descents. Mountain biking addresses my need to go fast, down something steep and dangerous. It is accompanied by the highs of achievement, the pain of failure, camaraderie and real ale. Google +

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