Building Poli Chapter Six: The First Brief Kiss
Well, that was... Different.
Do you know that feeling you get when you meet someone and she irks you in a way that you haven't experienced before and it leaves you kind of vexed, a bit offended and yet you still want more?
My first ride on an enduro-style singletrack on Poli was, in a nutshell, just like that. In bicycle terms, it was bumpy, and I'm looking forward to the next ride.
We sought out one of the longest, most challenging downhill segments in my home town Larvik, Norway. There aren't that many to choose from, but Larvik does have some fun trails.
In this case, "we" were a duo, the sidekick being my father, designated photographer. The first ride in rocky terrain must be documented, potential faceplant and all. We hadn't contemplated camera shutdown, which was what happened.
The designated trail is about 500 meters, starting with a passage made up of rocks scattere on a quite a wide trail. Then the trail narrows and the descent flattens so that the ones chasing record times can pedal to make up time. Further along, the trail narrows into a gorge becoming ever deeper due to rainwater having made this part its path. Finally, the path turns into a beautiful flow trail.
I used to be King of the Mountain here. Strava connoisseurs will understand. But unbeknownst to me, and to my utter disbelief, some young local punk has bereaved me of that honor, beating me with one oh so bitter second.
There will be time to grieve my loss of entitlements later. Currently, I have a bike to test. So off we go.
I pedal out, gaining speed before the rock garden. Hitting the rocks, I am thrown away like a ball in a tombola machine. The stiff tail makes sure I feel every rock up my back, spine and finally my head. I have to break. Yet in the middle of it all I can't help suspecting that it's not really the lack of a back suspension that makes this challenging, but rather lack of technical skills. In my defense, it's the first rock garden I've been through in roughly nine months.
Out of the rock garden and into the flatter parts. The bike gains speed, every push on the pedals making itself felt on the surface. Into the gorge, the water - it rained heavily just the day before - making it difficult to get a clear view. Then into the rock garden. Wait, what rock garden?! I had forgotten about this part, and this is so much worse. Mud, rocks and water everywhere. No bike could save me from this as I slide sideways down the hill, cursing myself for not bringing knee pads because it would just be a casual ride in familiar terrain. Some more desperate clutches on the brakes, steadying the machine and then I'm out on the flowy part. Again the bike finds itself on a surface on which it thrives. Then is over. Job done.
Exhausting. Exhilarating. Let's do it again!
The bike has completely won me over. On the second test, the first proper ride, I took her to some of my favorite trails in Oslo. And oh she flies! The aggressive geometry makes me feel so secure descending, and the lack of back suspension doesn't take away anything from my riding style. I suspect a full suspension frame will be available on sale soon.