Back on full bounce: Introducing Betty
There's a new girl in town.
It hasn't been that long since I proclaimed my love to Poli, the semi-suspended beauty. However, sometimes love fades and a man must admit the huge mistake he has made. Poli, it turned out, was all looks and theory gone bad. Her sleek, straight steel tubes were great to look at, but in the end she was too much for me to handle. I was stunned by her simple beauty, leading me to ignore her flaws and my limitations to master such a rough-edged equipment.
Sure, Poli was a smooth ride on flow trails, and she's excellent companion when bikepacking. On rough, technical trails, however, she stops being cute and sometimes behaves outright nasty. She throws me around and punches me in the underbelly. I will finish shaken, my eyes aching after being thrown around in my head like the numbered balls in a tombola machine. There is no control and I'm at the mercy of what would have been characterized as a being with a capricious temperament, had she actually been a being.
It took two snakebites on a one kilometer stretch to start doubting that it would be Poli 4ever. I was constantly left to eat dust by my riding buddies, bouncing over rocks like an octogenarian kangaroo with impaired motor skills, and it finally dawned on me. I don't *heart* the bike anymore. Technically, I I just didn't have the skills for a hardtail, and I'm not talented enough to gain the necessary skill level required. I realized I wanted a companion on two wheels that accepts me as I am, without having to compromise.
Enter Betty Buenaventura.
Superlong, slender and straight lines, she caught my attention at once. It wasn't love at first sight, but the price tag certainly help. And just like a mail order bride, it only took a couple of clicks and payment of shipping before she appeared on my doorstep.
Betty has the 90-60-90 expected from a modern bike. Perfect body rarely translates to interesting and understanding mind. In the case of this bike, though, curves actually corresponds directly to behaviour. Betty performs like the perfect lady, and she forgives all my mistakes. She makes me feel like king of the mountain despite what Strava says. I feel fast, I feel fearless. In other words, the bike makes me feel confident, my at best average technical skills notwithstanding.
Her superlong geometry may make her less playful than other bikes, but for someone like me, who started serious mountain biking on the tail end of (arguably) the age in which I can learn something new, long is perfect. You just point her where you want to go and she will take you where you want to go, without any hassle. You throw something at her, and she still goes straight at it and through it, carefree while the man in the saddle is so happy he cries.
She probably will have more issues handling corners, but as I'm trying to say, it doesn't really matter for someone with my skillset. I never mastered the art of cornering, and it's not necessarily something I miss in my backyard.
My passion for riding is back. I don't feel like a leaf in an autumn storm while descending those technical trails. Rather, I feel like I'm on top of my own personal game while bombing down rock gardens and over the roots belonging to those infamous Norway spruce.
She climbs well, too. For a bike that clearly is designed for taking you as fast as possible from A to B - A being the uppermost point and B being the lowermost one - she is never unwilling in the ascent. In fact, she climbs better than the other mountain bikes I've had.
So what's not to like? Because surely I can't be naïve and proclaim my love all over, having already done it once prematurely. Well, the bike is modestly equipped, and some parts will probably have to be replaced at some point. First up will probably be the tires, although the sloppy style on slippery surface may be due to lack of acquaintance. After all, Betty and I have only danced together for so long. Furthermore, the dropper post is cheap, and it feels cheap. Longer term, it will be interesting to see how the suspension system will hold up. Hopefully Betty will continue to show me the tender care in a year as she does now.
So far, it wouldn't be an understatement to say as the English: She's quite the bird.
Tl; dr: Long and slack makes me all giggly.