Off-road I was riding my 20-year-old Stumpjumper which I've kept tuned up as best I can. But it's in desperate need of a whole new drive-train, derailleurs and some front shocks. Lots of missing gear teeth, seized adjusters. Expensive stuff.
This fall Chuck announced he was looking for a new mountain bike. Since he has a couple of old mountain bikes at his disposal and has probably ridden only half a dozen times in the past dozen years, I must have given him a quizzical look. He told me that he wanted a full-suspension (i.e. expensive) bike, because he thought if he had a new, up-to-date bike he would be more likely to go riding.
Oh, okay, I said. (insert eye-roll here)
Well, he bought himself a decent used all-mountain dual-suspension bike and ... okay, I had to take back the eyeroll. I tried his bike. Amazing! Totally different kind of ride. Gears that shift like butter, brakes that engage with a casual flick and pull you to a gravel spraying skid stop with a gentle squeeze.
Okay, fair is fair, I figured: if the guy who thinks he might ride regularly if he had a nice bike gets a nice bike, then the wife who does ride regularly should surely have a nice bike too?
I lucked into the Santa Cruz Nomad. I found it in Nelson, selling used at less than half its original $3000+ price tag. It was my size and it's got some pretty high-end components. It's been ridden hard, but it's been well-maintained.
I've only got about 50 kms on it so far, and it needs a bit of a tune-up, but still, I'm blown away. I can ride up pitches I couldn't dream of doing on my Stumpjumper. I can down-shift while climbing hills (rather than beforehand), I can stop on a dime using a fluid balance between front and back brakes to prevent fishtailing or pitching over handlebars. And downhills ... I can handle steeper, and go faster by far. The suspension prevents most of the jarring over roots and rocks, and that increases stability and safety on the rough trails I tend to ride. It's not a boneshaker like the Stumpjumper, bouncing its way down the slopes in a cacophony of rattles while I stand out of the saddle for the entire descent. Instead there's a sense of fluidity and control.
I'm back to running, but bike rides aren't going to lose their appeal because of that -- now I can do both!