Professor Von Stumpy had his first trip over Cannock Chase today. I decided that there was no better way to break him in than a full bost around Follow the Dog. I’ve done the trail so many times on my Trek, I was intrigued to see how it would feel on the Stumpy.
The answer…very good! 😀
It was a relief to confirm that I was as comfortable with it on the trail as I was on the pootle. I found myself capable of building and maintaining speed a lot easier, darting up climbs, and cornering more confidently. I don’t know how much of it was down to the suspension, or the geometry, or the fact it’s a fair few pounds lighter than my Trek, and quite frankly, I don’t care. All I know is I now have a bike that I can grow into in terms of my ability level – and definitely no hardware excuses any more!
I set off on Follow the Dog. As I approached the section with the log skinny, I paused. Mr Toast pulled up behind me, a slightly pained grin on his face. He turned his bike over, and spun the back wheel – or at least tried to. It did about half a rotation before stopping abruptly. After listening to his bitter cursing about XT wheels, I left him to it.
I did most of the trail, although I’ll admit I bottled it on the boardwalk, telling myself that it’s best that I get fully familar with the handling of my new bike. Although that’s partly true, I think I’ve done the boardwalk so few times this year, I’m again mentally building it into something that it’s not. You see, the boardwalk on FtD looks like this:
Now, from a cold, logical point of view, I can see it for what it is. A reasonably wide, fairly flat bit of northshore, which I’ve done many, many, many times before (pretty much on a weekly basis for a good chunk of last year). I’ve never fallen off it before – never even come close to falling off it. Yet somehow, in my mind, it’s somehow evolved into this:
Silly? Yeah, fairly. I’ll get there eventually (maybe next week), but for today, it was the chicken run. Fortunately for my nice white Stumpy, the chaps at Chase Trails have done some serious upgrading to the chicken run, turning it from a boggy pit that actually made the boardwalk look like the more pleasant option, to a well surfaced path. It was even signposted with a rather fetching ‘Blue’ marker, the first I’ve even seen across the Chase.
I decided to play with the travel on the fork on the fireroad hill, setting it to 100mm, and switching Pro-Pedal on the rear shock. I did find climbing easier, but again, I don’t know how much of that was down to the gadgetry, and how much was down to riding a better fitting bike.
As I approached section 12, I checked my mobile. Mr Toast was not a happy bunny. His back wheel was still stuffed, and he didn’t have the tools in the car (a cone spanner, a cassette tool). I decided to do 12 and 13, and to head back to my unfortunate husband.
Section 13 was fantastic on the Stumpy. Again, I played with the travel, this time dialling it up 140mm. I went down feeling fast and confident, and exited the section with a huge grin on my face.
When I met up with Mr Toast, he was distinctly lacking in huge grins. Not only had he been stuck outside Swinnertons for an hour or so, completely unable to ride around the woods, but he sat on a particularly itchy piece of grass. It took him some time to realise he was sitting on a baby nettle.
So, we got home, me grinning, him grumbling, and commenting on how he’d achieved the remarkable feat of knackering/partially knackering three different set of wheels. I’d offer to swap him the Bontragers off the Trekadee, but I don’t think he’d be overly impressed…
Ride: Cannock Chase
Trail: All of FtD up to and including section 13
Highlights: The Stumpy!
Bad bits: Mr Toast’s rear wheel dying
Post ride food snaffled:Had a mid-ride Oatie
Good dogs seen: Two schnauzers, one minature, one regular. Also, two Westies yapping at each other – it was like watching a pair of clouds having an argument.