Monday, May 24, 2010

DirtRag Dirtfest and the Niner Carbon Air 9

Yes, I'm still alive--just been in recovery mode as far as the blog goes. I spent the last four days down in PA at DirtRag's Dirtfest with Mike, Mark, Dave F. and Rich. We got off to a very early start Thursday morning. I was up at 4:20 which probabaly would not have been so bad, except I didn't get to bed until 3:15. Mike picked me up and we were off to Raystown Lake, PA --about a six-hour drive--you know how much I hate to drive, so I was most excited to find out that Mike seems to live for coffee as much as I do. Our first stop was Starbucks in Scranton which is about two hours away.

The bikes were looking like a blur through the sun roof in the blue morning light.
We arrived a touch ahead of schedule at 11 am--not bad considering we stopped and got a bit lost in State College. The first thing I saw when we arrived at the campsite was Rich's espresso machine--SWEET!--I had heard rumors that he might bring it. Between Dave's camper and Rich's machine, this was hardly "camping." I should also mention that the weather was absolutely perfect--70 and not a cloud in the sky.

The fruits of my 3 am labor--my Niner Carbon fork arrived at 5:30 pm Wednesday. I had been hoping it would get here as I really wanted to test out the bike as it will be set up for the Blackfly +/- the wheels--powertap or not?

Pretty slick and about 2 lbs. lighter--I was exceptionally impressed with how it rode all weekend. The trails were a perfect testing ground as they were no bumpier than the roads up at the Blackfly. The fork is very smooth and responsive, so needless to say I'm very happy with it. It should be perfect for the Iceman as well--can't wait.

I'm guessing there is something like 40-50 miles of trails in the park. My understanding is that they were done by IMBA and what a great job they did. 95% of the trails are rippin' single track--the rest had a touch of rocks and roots here and there--nothing really technical.

Mike coming up Ray's Revenge--I think this was our favorite. The view from the top was spectacular. I believe I read somewhere that this trail had the most climbing which was in the neighborhood of 750 ft. None of the trails seemed to hit very hard when climbing--of course I would have preferred a bit more punch going up.

A little hot dogging at the top of Ray's Revenge. We rode about 30 miles a day and only missed one trail (Loco-Motion) by the time we left.

We finally made over to the festival to check out the vendors. At sign-in they were giving away the mini Stan's sealants. It became somewhat of a competition as to who could accumulate the most--the winner had 18.

I'm guessing there were about a dozen bike manufacturers there--I stopped by Stan's to see if I could get my badly beaten rear wheel trued--it was beyond repair so it's got to go back to their shop this week. I've got to send both the front and back wheels back--I hit something on the last day--I think it was the rock garden and now the front rim is more out of whack than the back.

Before we headed back out to ride the rain came and it got a bit chilly--some hot coffee from the Standing Stone Coffee shop hit the spot.

So is this what you want to know about? I was fortunate enough to demo the new Carbon Air Niner--Wow!! In person, it is much beefier than it looks in pictures.

I was not sure what to expect as the bike was not mine nor was it set up especially for me. It was set up as a single speed--I'd spent the past 3 days on gears. For starters, it weighed in at just about 19 lbs. but it sure felt a lot lighter that that. I got about 45 mins. on it and all I can say is that it is sick--it climbs like crazy and it's so responsive going up the hills it felt like I was on my road bike. I was a little tentative going downhill as it was starting to get wet and slippery (not to mention that this is a bike you cannot buy yet). I could not believe how rock solid it was going down and through the corners it accelerated and went exactly where I pointed it. As you would expect, the carbon dampens the vibrations which is really nice--it's stiff and light--pretty much perfect for a bike but I still have my concerns about the durability of carbon for a mountain bike if you crash or it gets hit. Time will tell. The coolest thing about the bike is what Niner calls the CYA botton bracket system which allows you to run the bike either as a SS or geared.
The frame is designed to hide the derailleur cables a small detail which I absolutely love--it is such a clean look. Will I get one? What do you think?

While I was on my dream ride, Mike was demoing a beautiful Atomic Blue ONE 9--which he absolutely loved. I think he is torn as to which one he wants--he loved the carbon but the One 9 was so nice he may not be able to wait.

After our Niner detour, we were about 4 hours into our day--neither of us had counted on being out that long and we were running short on calories. Sitting pretty next to the Stan's sealant was a box of Reeses--no competition on those but they saved the day. I think I ate four of them and was good to go.

You can't really tell from the photo but we were covered with mud--it pretty much had been raining for two hours now and didn't stop until the next morning. Other than being a bit slippery (the Stan's Crow on the back did not help), the mud was actually a blast--the fine watery stuff which was a nice departure from the thick stuff I ride up here.

As it had been the previous two nights, dinner was fantastic, although the rain brought the party inside. I managed to doze off shortly after taking this photo at 10 pm--have not gone to bed that early in a long time. We woke to rain and ultimately called it quits, heading home without riding on Sunday--a bummer, I chalked it up as a rest day--could not wait to see the possums.

We had a great weekend-fantastic food, ride, rest, ride, more food and lots of sleep--oh and did I mention Rich's espresso machine. I think we are going to plan a trip back in the Fall.

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