Can't believe it's 2012 already. Two years have gone by.
After a busy day at the Chinese Speech Contest last Saturday, I decided to go for a ride instead of going to a party.
The time was 6:46 p.m. I've never ridden this late. The sun was setting and it was starting to get windy and dark.
I didn't care a bit.
It was an amazing ride. Other than the regular cardinals and bunnies on the trail, a nighthawk flew just a few feet infront of me, leading my way. It handsomely flapped its expansive wings and glided effortlessly in the air. Almost like a scene from the Harry Potter movies. Magical.
Got home at a quarter after eight. I took a long, hot bath and finished a bowl of French vanilla ice cream while watching The Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish film).
My last rides of the year (Nov. 22, 23). I started early in the morning; it was in the twenties, chilly and cold. Part of the trail was covered in light snow. I could hear the ice breaking underneath my wheels.
It was so cold that I wanted to ask myself: "why am I here", my feet were freezing and the wind cut like a sharp knife. At the end of the 60-minute ride, even my legs were complaining.
But I couldn't think of a better place I'd rather be.
The end of autumn felt crisp and crunchy. I could smell the sweetness of apple cider and donuts from the cidermill nearby.
The beginning of winter was clear as a champagne flute. The chilly blue sky felt like a sheet of paper-thin glass that could crumble in my hands.
I haven't been to the Paint Creek trail for ages (it was my first trail). And since I've been riding the hardtail lately, I decided to try it again. The weather is ideal, sunny and breezy, but it also means the trail gets crowded.
Fortunately, my favorite spot is quiet. I was the only one there. It was nice to spend a few minutes by the tranquil pond.
I tried the Bald Mountain Orange loop a year ago, when I first started mountain biking. It was also my first single track.
An unforgetable experience.
Although I was so green at that time, I could still taste the thrill of finishing a single track. The focus, the sense of achievement and the adventure.
This year, the Stoney Creek Black loop is my first single track of the season, so it's about time to try something different: the Bald Mountain White loop.
It's not as long as Stoney and is much wider. The trail is challenging but not hair-raising like the black loop. I couldn't make some hills, but felt much more secure and confident over all. Thankfully I was able to finish it without adding another crash to my list.
This is probably a better trail for my skill level, but it's a long drive from my house. The season is almost over, maybe I'll visit it again.
Sometimes you just don't want to get on a bike. I know. It happened on my birthday.
I went to bed past midnight on Friday, but decided to have an early morning ride. The result of getting up at a little over 6:00 a.m.? Sheer exhaustion. However, I got out of the door as planned. I had the route planned the night before, looking forward to trying something new- the black loop at Stoney Creek. It would be a good way to celebrate the day, and hopefully I would have extra luck on the trail.
When I arrived at the trail entrance, I didn't want to get out of the car. No desire to ride, no butterflies in my stomach, no anticipation or sense of adventure. I sat in the car for a while, feeling depressed. Maybe I should go to the bookstore and do some reading in a comfy sofa; maybe I should go to the farmer's market and enjoy the nice morning; maybe I should go to the car wash...
But I got out the car anyway, very very slowly. I knew if I quit now, I'd regret the way I spent the day and feel worse afterwards. I put the map in my jersey pocket and started pedaling.
The black loop is the most difficult part of the Stoney Creek trails. I've never ridden it. As a matter of fact, I've been hesitant to try it, for fear of a bad crash and get stranded all by myself. However, the blue and green loops are getting boring, so this is only the next step.
(the entrance looks rather harmless)
About three minutes into the single track, I realized that I hadn't ridden single tracks for ages and I had never done it alone. It definitely showed. My body was as tense as a rock. There were things that I should be able to do, but couldn't. My eyes were fixed on the roots infront of my wheels, against my better judgement. I forgot to breath; the hills were killing me. Yes, I sucked, big time. It was very frustrating, and I had to take a break.
After #25, it was time to roll downhill. I got very very scared. The speed and turns caught me off guard. My hands wouldn't let go of the break levers (and almost endo'd at one point, but I guess my birthday luck saved me). There were times I wanted to bail out to the blue loop, because I wasn't sure I could finish this in one piece. A voice told me "just hang in there a little longer, don't quit yet, you're just too nervous". So I carried on. Finally, at the last 1/3 of the trail, I began to relax and focus on the moment. I let go of the death grasp on the brakes and put the trust back to myself and my bike. It immediately showed. We floated through the trail and I truely enjoyed what I was doing. For a few minutes, nothing else existed except the dirt underneath my wheels.
At the end of the ride, I was very glad I finished it, although the overall feel was like the scary ferris wheel ride I did two weeks ago. On my way home, I stopped at the farmer's market to catch my breath.
Next time, it will be better, I told myself. Looking forward to the next time.
Yes, it's my baby and it deserves its own entry. My brand new Giant Trance X1!
Back in May, I started my search for a new full suspension bike. Although I loved the Giant Warp DS1, it's too large and heavy for me. However, it showed me how a different bike can make the same trail feel differently. I loved its grippy tires and full suspension. Although it's heavy, it made me climb better because of the tires. The full suspension gave me a better control over obstacles.
I did my research and went to the bike shop. As soon as I opened the door, 3 beautiful bikes greeted me. They were displayed almost perpendicularly to the door, so they caught my attention immediately. They were the Giant Trance X0, X1 and X2. The anodized finish is eye catching. The simple clean look makes them stand out from other bikes. Originally I had my eyes set on the Santa Cruz Juliana and Specialized Safire, but my curiosity was peeked by the X1 (the prettiest among the bunch).
After talking to the staff at the bike shop, I was disappointed to learn that the Juliana wouldn't be available unless I pay a deposit for them to order it. The deposit is not refundable if I changed my mind. They're the only Santa Cruz dealer within 30 miles, so I had to cross the Juliana off my list. The Safire was not in stock either.
Therefore, I turned my attention to the Trance X. They let me try the silver X0 first. As I was test riding it in the back empty parking lot (which has lots of bumpy spots and holes), I said to myself "So, this is what a $3,400 bike feels like..." Everything was very responsive, the bike felt light and plush.
Luckily, they had an X2 demo bike that I could take to the trail for a day. Here it was at Stoney Creek.
The black X2 was such a joy. It climbed like a goat and the Maestro suspension was great. It felt very stable during decends. I also made the long steep hill that had been killing me since last year! In the Pines (single track), I had a little difficulty handling the bike, because the handle bar is very wide on the Trance X models and the bike was a size medium, which was too big for me. Although they switched the stem to the shortest one in store, the bike still felt big. Other than that, I had so much fun with the X2 that day and didn't want to end the ride!
While I looooved the X2, I wanted to be sure before making the final decision. Therefore, I demo'd the Specialized Epic.
It was almost as sweet as the X2. I was able to make the hills without any difficulties. It was more nimble in the Pines, because of the narrower handlebar and it was the right size for me (small). However, I liked the overall feel of the X2. It just seemed to be a better match. With the right size, I'm sure it'll be as good as the Epic on sigle tracks.
When they handed me the X1 at the bike shop, I couldn't believe it was really mine. I've dreamed about it, read about it and finally it was in my hands. The shop did a good job fitting the bike for me. We shortened the handlebar and stem and put on a new saddle. It looked so good that I wanted to sleep with it.
After hitting the trail with the X1, I was so happy to find out that it did outperform the Epic after the adjustments. It's very stable, handles like a dream, climbs with ease and very cushy to ride. It enables me to ride better and faster. Since I ride alone, it also makes me feel safer.
The only thing I can say is: I love love love this bike!!!