Thursday, May 9, 2013

Getting ready to shred and flow

Two weeks ago now, Trail Head Cyclery held their annual Dirt Demo day at Santa Teresa County Park.  I'll post more about my experience this year later, but basically THC brings out tons of demo bikes and lets you just rip it up on the rocky trails of STP.  It's not free though.  They've come up with an anti-cheapskate policy that keeps only the serious riders coming out for demos.  The entry fee for the event this year was $40.00 which really is a steal when you consider what you're getting.  For starters your entry allows you to ride as many bikes as you want all day long.  Normally people pay as much as $150.00 a day for a single demo bike.  Then there's the lunch of gourmet sausages they provide.  The stuff was great.  Maybe not the best fuel if you're riding, but is sure was delicious.  The the kicker... your $40.00 entry fee is given back to you as store credit at Trail Head.

TroyLeeDesigns X-Fit Knee guards
Of course I had a blast at the demo day, how could you not.  This post isn't about that though.  This post is about what I did with that store credit and then some.  You see, the weekend of the demo also happened to be my 30th birthday, and as luck would have it, one of my many awesome gifts was more money for Trail Head.  I originally thought about maybe just picking up a new pair of shorts or something, but was quickly talked out of it.  "Lookin to protect yourself before you wreck yourself?" Those words changed my mind immediately.  I was greeted by one of THC's sale guys who had just wrecked the day before and was telling me how his TLD pads saved his bacon.  Of course the thought of buying pads to protect my extremities had crossed my mind before, but I'd never really committed to the idea.  Having my wife next to me as the guy described his latest crash sort of sealed the deal, as she always hates hearing about some new gash or bruise I've suffered as a result of my riding.  I started test fitting the different models available and finally settled on the Troy Lee Designs X-Fit elbow and knee/shin pads.  I'll post a full product review when I've had the time to fully test them out, but they fit really nice in the shop.  After fitting and deciding on protection I was about ready to check out when Scott (another THC shop guy) saw me bust out the little red discount coupon from the demo day.  He suggested to me and the guy helping me (really sorry I didn't catch his name) that I look at some parts to really take advantage of the coupon.  After a brief conversation I decided that while my current tires aren't "worn out" they are a bit long in the tooth.

Specialized Butcher 26x2.3 Freeride/DH tire
Tires are a tricky subject.  No matter what application you're talking about there are tires that work well for some and not at all for others.  I happen to be a bit picky myself when it comes to tires.  I've never liked the feeling of having really aggressive tires on both the front and rear of my bikes.  For years now I've run a really aggressive wide tire up front while running a narrower faster tire in the rear.  This led me to look at a couple tires from Specialized.  The Captain for the rear, a faster rolling slightly narrower tire with a tighter knob pattern and the uber aggressive Butcher up front.  I've never ridden the Captain so I'll have to give a review of the tires after some rides on them, but the Butcher was equipped on the Enduro29 I test rode and it just rails.  It's an aggressive tread tire with burly knobs in the center and on the sides.  This tire will mark my first transition into the more advanced tire designs that lack a set of transition knobs.  That means I'll have to really lean the bike into the corners to take full advantage of the traction they can provide.

With the new pads and aggressive tires I think 2013 is going to be a summer of shred.  We're heading up to Tahoe again where the decomposed granite is loose and fast.  New flow sections of Tamarancho are beckoning.  And there are tons of awesome flow trails up in coast towards the Oregon border just begging for San Jose Mtb to explore.  Of course there's also my new found love of UCSC to further explore as well as demo forest and the always awesome Skyline parks.  Something tells me this will be my best year on the bike yet.  I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all.

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