As a semi-professional bike blogger, I take my semi-vocation semi-seriously, and part of that involves subjecting bicycles to semi-rigorous testing. For example, last week I rode the Marin Pine Mountain 1 in the woods for a few hours. Then I drank beer.
A lesser blogger might have left it at that, but I'm ever so slightly better then they are. I'm also perfectly comfortable ignoring emails with subject lines like "WE NEED THE BIKE BACK NOW," and so yesterday I resumed the testing by riding it again:
Somebody has to do it.
Even though I have the use of a luxurious motor vehicle with both a bike rack and a bank lien on it, I prefer to ride to the trail, which is pretty convenient from my little corner of the city. There are a few ways to go about this depending on whether or not you want to ride on some dirt along the way, but the fastest route is maybe eight or nine miles, mostly on a paved multi-use path:
Now if you'll forgive me for a moment, I'm going to share a real estate tip, so if you're not a New Yorker you might want to skip this paragraph as it won't mean anything to you. However, if you love to ride bikes recreationally yet you insist on living in New York City for whatever reason, the Northwest Bronx is probably the best spot you could possibly choose. You can hit pretty much any type of riding you want inside of an hour, and if you're into that (apparently) oh-so-trendy multimodal thing you've got easy access to the Metro North. Plus, unlike Brooklyn and increasingly Queens (not to mention the suburbs), you can probably still afford to live here.
Now you know.
Anyway, given my proclivity towards riding to the ride, I like mountain bikes that aren't too onerous on the road. Before taking delivery of the Marin I was worried that the "plus"-sized tires might suck in this capacity. And while yes, it does suck to ride 3.0 tires or whatever they are on pavement for multiple miles, it sucks no more than it does on any of my other mountain bikes, so if you have similar concerns then you don't need to avoid the "plus"-size tire thing on that basis.
The trails I usually ride sit on a ridge, which you've first got to climb:
The multi-use path takes you near the trails but not directly to them, which means you've got to put in a final mile or two of road time--and yes I'm riding on the sidewalk, because drivers treat this road like a highway, and you're about as likely to encounter a zebra here as you are a pedestrian, which means you're not bothering anybody.
So fuck that.
Once you're at the top, all that lies between you and the trails is a chainlink fence:
It's tough to see, but there were a bunch of wild turkeys running around in there:
They were about to be joined by one more.
Opening the gate, I let myself in, and then promptly "marked my territory" if you know what I mean:
If you don't know what I mean, what I'm saying is I urinated.
Gotta let those turkeys know who wears the "jorts" around here.
And yes, I was totally wearing jorts:
With almost ten miles of sluggish spinning in my pallid, stubbly legs I was ready to tear up the trails like a city employee tears up a parking ticket:
Then I realized I'm a giant "woosie" on the wrong side of 40, and so instead I rode sensibly and within my modest abilities.
As I mentioned, this part sits on a ridge. In fact, the geography of the entire area is defined by ridges, which means there are lots of roots and rocky outcroppings, as well as plenty of short, steep climbs:
The reason I wanted to try the Pine Mountain 1 is that I figured a rigid bike with wide gearing and wider tires would work well for this sort of terrain, and of course I was exactly right, because I'm awesome. It climbs very well, it's got great traction on leaves (of which, as you can see, there are many right now), and and it also rolls right over this sort of thing very easily:
"So what? I'm an awesome mountain biker who lives in [insert cultural backwater near wilderness area here]. I could ride that on my road bike."
Good for you. You're good at mountain biking, I live in a city that will eat you alive. If the contest is life then I'm still winning.
As far as the plus-sized tires, I'm obviously new to them, so on my last ride I kept gradually lowering the pressure until I figured out where it needed to be:
Therefore, on this ride I had it more or less exactly right from the beginning, and thus freed from the distraction of the stop-and-futz I was better able to appreciate them:
When I ride a mountain bike that shifts it's this one:
I appreciate the suspension fork until it begins to annoy me, which it invariably does after awhile, because while I appreciate smoothness I am at heart a rigid bike person. It suits my uptight personality. So I end up going back and forth between rigid and bouncy by switching the fork from time to time:
It's like when you're in an unheated swimming pool and it feels really good, but then you jump into the hot tub and you're like "Aaahhh...!," but then it's too hot after awhile so you jump back into that cold pool and it's delightfully bracing, but that makes you crave the hot tub again, and so you keep going back and forth until you either pass out or become infertile.
If that makes any sense to you (which if you're sane it almost certainly doesn't) then you know how I feel about suspension forks.
Anyway, it's only been two rides on the Marin so far, but I suspect the plus-sized tire thing may be the perfect alternative to this "problem," since it smooths things out considerably while still riding like a rigid bike. In other words, I think I like it better than my hardtail.
By the way, if you want me to be more critical of this bike, deal with it:
I've got seventeen (17) kids, limited time, and a basement full of bikes that need to be ridden, so if I thought the bike would suck I wouldn't have bothered with it. But I didn't, and it doesn't.
Yes, at this point in my cycling life I'm as unflappable as a Yonkers deer:
I always thought deer were supposed to be timid, but these deer display no fear of humans whatsoever:
Anyway, after I'd "shredded" (cut carefully with safety scissors is more like it), I took a little rest:
(Pallid Fredly sat on a wall, Pallid Fredly had a great fall...)
And headed back to the gate, which is a portal into a magical world of unbridled consumerism:
Not only is it already Christmas here:
But it has been for like weeks now.
There was even Christmas music playing over the PA.
Part of me finds it disgusting, but part of me wants to move into the Shrek Holiday Hut and take all my meals at the Cheesecake Factory:
But instead I went to a popular overpriced supermarket chain:
You'd think they'd enhance their smug corporate image with some bike racks, but this is Yonkers so I guess they figured "fuck that:"
Anyway, it's hard to imagine too many people climbing up here in the first place, semi-pro bike bloggers excluded.
Once inside, I purchased baby formula and broccoli, as well as treated myself to an artisanally corporate taco repast:
It's important to buy the fancy baby formula because the other stuff's made from ground-up cat bones.
Hey, the kid's got me as a father, he doesn't need any more strikes against him.
Sadly I'd brought my tiniest backpack, which meant I had to purchase a bag in which to "portage" the formula, meaning the total bill came to around $246:
Though it was worth it for the gratification of explaining to the checker that no, I did NOT need my parking validated, for I did not come here in a car thankyouverymuch:
("Yeah, but you still have one, so...")
Once I'd lunched, getting home was merely a matter of spinning along this for awhile:
Until I reached the New York City line, where the paved path simply ends and you're on your own:
Abandon hope all ye etc. etc.