My Santa Cruz Nomad mountain bike is about to wrap up its 3rd year of trail riding under my butt. I got the bike back in Calgary and immediately took a long road trip down to Moab & Sedona. I setup the bike nicely for fast chunky desert riding and left it like that for a while since that suited the smoother, but equally fast riding around Calgary pretty well.
When I got to Victoria I struggled to make my XL sized bike work in the tight twisty steep techy forest trails. For a while I just suffered. Then I started working on the skills I required to make the most of my bike in these conditions. What I was slow to do is to accept that I needed to alter my bike [as much as is practical] for riding on Vancouver Island.
A big part of that hesitation was due to my lack of Jedi MTB adjustment skills. Modern full suspension bikes are complicated and it’s a bit daunting to mess with them. Once I got over my initial concern and started tweaking things I realized it’s not too bad as long as you only change 1 thing per ride. That way you know what you did to get the effect you experience and if you didn’t like it you can always move back to the previous settings. It takes quite a bit of time to make progress 1 tweak at a time, but at least you know you are making progress and what it was you did that got you there.
So far I have changed my stem/bar position, my saddle height and fore/aft positioning, my rear shock pressure and tire pressure. Some of these adjustments took a couple iterations until I got a positive result, others were great right off the bat and one resulted in a positive, but unexpected change in how my bike rides. Beyond the instant gratification of having a bike that performs better for me on my local trails I’m slowly, but surely learning how my Nomad works so that when I head to some new trails I can adjust the bike to suit those conditions betters.
Another benefit is that I’m paying more attention to what is happening with my bike which has allowed me to alter how I am riding it to help my adjustments along. Front wheel not digging in on a corner?…a little body shift forward to add weight to the tire’s knobs lets them bite in better. Rear tire spinning out wet roots?…a bit of a lunge when my tire touches the root gives me enough momentum to roll over it. Combine some tweaking with some riding skill improvements and you can really amp up your riding.
So far it’s been a viciously positive cycle as I have more fun on my MTB I want to ride it more which lets me learn my local trails better which makes me want to ride them more and so on. It doesn’t hurt that winter MTBing on the South Shore of Vancouver Island rocks so much. Mild weather. Limited rain. Trails that soak up any precipitation that does fall and stay rideable all year round. And some good friends that like to ride. Simply awesome!
Sure I’m still a little jealous of folks who live in Sedona that commute to work on red desert singletrack, but at the same time I’m pretty stoked to be living in a mountain biking mecca as well. South Shore Style baby – that’s how we roll…=-)~
As I prepare for my Baja kiteboarding get away I’m trying to fit in as many rides as I can before I leave. Flying high over the Sea of Cortez and slashing the swell on my surfboard will be super fun, but I will miss the dark, moist South Shore forests and their deviously cunning trails.
At least I can rest easy knowing the South Shore Noctural Missions Crew will be Shredding The Gnar while I am gone. Keeping the animals wondering what all the bright lights and whooping/hollering in the forest is all about…=-)