Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tales of the Rigid Part II-The Renunion

My New Old School Mountain Bike. A fully rigid 1993 GT Timberlilne

In case you haven't been following my blog, the title of this article is alluding to a blog post I wrote a while back called Tales of the Rigid, check it out. At around the age of 15 when I started getting into mountain biking, good suspension bikes where still very uncommon among average working class people. There were some affordable suspension bikes back then, but the technology was not nearly as advanced as it is today and good suspension systems like Rockshox, Manitou and Marzocchi were out of our reach. Bottoming out and going over the handlebars was a common occurrence on cheaper suspension systems. Because of this many people decided to forgo suspension all together and ride the trails on rigid mountain bikes.

So what did I use to ride some of the most technical singletrack in Dallas and Fort Worth when I was growing up? You guessed it, I rode on a rigid, twenty six inch wheeled mountain bike with no bells and whistles. I remember what a blast it was to ride trails like Northshore, Horseshoe Trail, L.B Houston and Knob Hills in the late 90's and early 2000's on my rigid Huffy mountain bike. I have recently been longing to get back on a rigid bike, but they are no longer made in the twenty six inch variety and even rigid 29ers are getting hard to come by.

It wasn't until very recently when talking to my boss about old school mountain biking when he offered to sell me his old mountain bike for a song. He had taken great care of the bike and it looked like it had only been ridden a few times. When he sold it to me he had converted it to a cruising commuter. It sported some Schwalbe Fat Frank cruiser tires and and a Brooks leather saddle. The Brooks saddle and the tires were not included in the deal, however my plans for the bike do not require them. My boss was kind enough to throw in a WTB Deep V saddle and brand new knobbies with the purchase of the bike. He's an real awesome guy, and I'm really enjoying my new job at the bike shop.

Yesterday I was finally able to break away to the mountain bike trail to try it out. I rode Rowlett Creek Preserve, a trail known for having some real techincal creek crossings and trail loops. I skipped the really crazy creek crossings and loop 13, a concrete and re-bar laden jungle. As I rode the bike I started to reacquaint myself with using my body, rather than shocks as the suspension. Once I started riding the harder loops the clock started turning back to my early days of mountain biking. It was as if a dormant switch was turned on and reignited in my brain. I was using muscles and maneuvers that I hadn't used in years. I realized that everything I was riding with my full suspension bike could be done on a rigid, perhaps even faster and with less mistakes. Without a heavy suspension system weighing me down I was climbing hills like a billy goat and getting air on bumps I would normally absorb with a suspension bike. On a rigid bike I am in touch with the terrain that is below my feet, and every rock and obstacle could be felt. Even though my new rigid bike is light years better than the one I used to have back in the day, I was able to experience that old feeling from long ago. A rediscovered sense of adventure, a feeling that I haven't seen all there is to see. It took getting home and looking at myself in the mirror to finally realize that I wasn't fifteen anymore. I also realized that I could do almost everything on the trail that I was doing on my full suspension bike on my rigid bike. It was an awesome experience, and I can't wait to do it again.

Flashback to the late 90's. My brother and I on our rigid Huffy mountain bikes. I'm on the right.

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