It’s July 5th. After a night of celebrating our freedom to BBQ and blowing stuff up it rained. In Utah a bit of light late night rain means get on the trail as fast as possible before the sun bakes the dirt back into moon dust.
I want to give the Ripmo another chance.
This time I’m expecting the heavy front end and I deal with that. I tell myself that I just need to apply more balanced force to get the bike to track straight. Sometimes that strategy succeeds, sometimes it fails. With the Ripley I could always pick a very precise path through the rocks and over the tree roots. The Ripmo was better this ride but I still found myself slamming into more obstacles than usual. However, with the slacker head angle and longer front for the Ripmo was always like “no worries, I got this.” We’d roll over whatever was in our way and on we went.
On the way up I saw a couple of hikers. It’s a well used trail and it’s not uncommon to encounter fellow humans. I try not to be a jerk so I quickly decelerated to let them pass. Much to my surprise and theirs my Garmin and phone started howling. My Apple watch had decided that I was in trouble and set off the incident alert. Unfortunately I’m not smart and couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. Checked and it didn’t look like it had called 911. I rode another 20 minutes and my brother called to see if I was OK.
With a little more time in the Ripmo under my belt and a mutual understanding of the need for more speed I was stoked to start the descent. With additional speed and greater confidence in the corners the Ripmo and I were starting to understand each other. On the last ride there were A couple of large random rocks in the trail. Last time I dodged them. On this round I decided to be a good citizen and I slammed on the brakes to stop and kick them off the trail. Once again my watch triggered the incident alert, thinking I was hurt. This time I was ready and fumbled through the menu system on my Garmin to cancel it. That’s when I realized the cause of the alert. The larger brakes and the aggressive Assegai tires combine provide some serious stopping power – enough stopping power to set off the fall alert on your device. I was pretty thrilled about this new found ability. Previously I would have to carefully pump the brakes to prevent my rear wheel from skidding and scaring hikers who would then angrily go home and change their shorts. I expect happier campers during future deceleration encounters.
On the way out of the canyon there is a point where you can choose the legit trail with switchbacks and or the illegal shortcut with a steep, treacherous rock garden. I’m a conservative rider and have always played it safe and legal but I decided that just like my first jump off the rock table at the top was inspired by a Ripmo V1, my foray into illegal trail traversal would be motivated by the Ripmo V2. In a split second I chose and down over the steep rock I went.
Down I went with the Ripmo screaming “more, more, yes, yes.” Meanwhile my heart raced as adrenaline coursed through my veins. The last section before rejoining the main trail boasts two sections of almost vertical rock that terminate in either a sharp turn (good) or a boulder and cracked helmet (bad). The Ripmo pushed for more, “ hehe, here we go!!!” I hit the brakes and screamed, “get thee behind me Satan!” as I prepared to vomit. I could envision my body in a pile at the bottom of the pile of rocks with a Ripmo sitting on my lifeless body. I got off and gingerly climbed down the rock. Even on foot this bit was treacherous. The Ripmo was not pleased and taunted, “wimp” as I lifted it down the rocks. This is one of the sections where the heavily slacked out front end makes a huge difference. Maybe someday my skills will rise to the capability of the bike.
These first few rides left me in touch with my cowboy roots. Coming to an accord with this bike feels like breaking in a wild pony. Even though our first few rides haven’t been perfect for either of us, we’re learning to get along. Whether I get used to the heavy front end and loss of precision is yet to be seen.