Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Yeti Dealer Camp

In October myself, Peter and Sean were invited to demo ride the 2017 Yeti Offering in Hood River. The weather called for the worst storm the North West had seen in years so steady away we picked our way up to Hood River in the shop Sprinter van.

After a full nights rest and a hearty breakfast we were the first dealer on the scene and found both inside and outside Yeti vans on station with some of the demo bikes hung up literally brand new and never been ridden!

For the first lap on the hill Sean picked the SB5, while Peter and I took the brand new from the ground up for 2017 SB5+.

We met at the Syncline trail head to ride on the Washington Side of Hood River. We climbed a steady incline of around 650ft in two miles called the Jeep Trail. It’s a steady climb with gorgeous views of the Columbia River as you increase in elevation. I ride a plus bike half of the time at the shop, so the big tires weren’t out of my element as I tried to wake my legs up and test the 5+ on the climb. It seemed to do OK and up we went.

Arriving at the trail head for the Little Maui trail we grabbed the required group shot.

The stoke was high as we got ready to drop in. Now coming riding in Southern Oregon the conditions were not what we are used to. After dropping into Little Maui you’ve got fun narrow single track and just as you’re gaining speed you’re faced with a rock garden with a three foot incline. Basically a slippy, rocky, unmade staircase, which I failed to clean any of the four times we rode it. From there the trail carved its way down the hillside with some fast, off the brakes sections followed by some rocky sections. Some tight, unsupported corners and some that inspired you to lean on them and carry speed. There was also a wide, off camber rock face that we rode down, which had me super concerned the first lap even on wide, sticky plus tires. We made it to the bottom, below is the evidence to prove it, and pedaled the old highway back to base to swap out and take a new bike for lap 2.

For lap 2 I decided to take an SB5, to contrast relatively skinny tires back to back with the plus tires. Sean, to do the same contrast test, took the SB5+ for the second lap. Peter was talking sizing and decided to take the SB5+ again but in a large this time, he’d ridden the medium on the previous lap. As we climbed I had a feeling that the SB5 was climbing better than it’s over sized tire’d counterpart. It could have been simply that my legs and body were warm, I had the expectation of the climb set in my head, or the coffee had kicked in.

 We were eager to get as many laps on as many bikes as we could for the day. We’d also all decided that we wanted to try out the SB6 together for the last lap of the day. Deciding we had a couple more in us, we swapped out for another round of bikes.

For lap 3 I took Peter’s advice and tried a larger frame size. At 6’ tall I would usually ride a large frame, I set up and took out the XL SB5.5, what a great decision! After talking to the Yeti Demo Truck driver about the Switch Infinity Link I climbed the 5.5 without using any of the shock lock out, or pedal platform. I was very impressed with how well it climbed with everything wide open. Now, when we got to the drop in this is where this bike clearly comes into its own. I was so excited to get the 5.5 pointed down hill it appears that I missed the trail head picture for the this lap. I therefore have no idea what Peter and Sean were riding this lap, but back to the action! The 5.5 dropped in and the first thing you notice about this bike is it’s just fast. When you get off the brakes the bike accelerates regardless of anything it may encounter in its path. The second thing, after tackling some obstacles and coming away unscathed, was the overwhelming feeling of being unstoppable on this bike. We’d ridden the same trail on bike after bike and while the trail is becoming more familiar throughout the day I’m becoming more fatigued. This run down the trail felt the fastest of the day, but with ease. It made the rider feel there was nothing this bike couldn’t handle! What a weapon.

Now we’d arrived at the bottom it was SB6 time. I was feeling pretty weary after giving the SB5.5 a thorough test on the last lap, however at that point the local Yeti Dealer, Hood River Cycles, offered a shuttle a little further up the hill and we jumped at the opportunity.

Sean went with the group, being a faster rider and Peter, being a Shop Ranger, didn’t leave me behind. So Peter and picked our way down the hill from a higher starting point. When you let the SB6 go and point it down the trail it feels fast! It picks up speed quickly and gobbles up obstacles. The difference between it and it’s larger wheeled, shorter traveled cousin from the last ride was it just didn’t feel as lively. Now I’ve ridden big bikes and while they seem to ride fast and take on all the trail has to slow you down, they feel they need to be ridden with a point down the hill and let the bike do the work attitude. The SB6 felt by no means as dead as a long travel DH bike would, but as it was the last bike of the day and everything else had been so responsive, it did feel a little more that way. I enjoyed the last run of the day on the “big” bike, it was completely different from what I’m used to riding and different from everything I’d ridden that day, but it was great to have that comparison and knowledge that riding them all back to back had given me.

At the end of the day we sat with the other dealers, the Yeti staff and each other for much needed food and beer. The chatter around the different tables had the stoke level high. The discussion in the Unreal Camp before the trip had us all feeling that the long travel 29er would be the bike for us. After riding them all this was absolutely the answer. For climbing or descending, technical or flat out, there wasn’t a situation we felt that over all the SB5.5 was not the bike for the job.

So there you have it. If you’re looking for the go everywhere and do anything you throw at it bike the Yeti SB5.5c is the bike you’re looking for.

The Yeti demo truck is potentially coming through the Rogue Valley in November. If you’re interested in trying some of these models out head to our polls page and help us nail down the format for the day. Click Here. If you’re interested in talking spec, price and sizing beforehand stop in the shop, we’ve got SB5 and SB5.5 available to touch and feel, with the SB5.5 Large available for demo any time.

Get out and ride!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Interior British Columbia Van-cation: Favorite Trails

There are a lot of topics I could cover about a no-frills extended mountain bike trip… Like, how to live in a teeny-tiny van for 3-weeks without killing your partner; or, personal hygiene and how to successfully poach showers; or, how about favorite trails of the trip? Although the first two topics make for good stories, the later might be most useful – so I’ll start there. 

The Itinerary 

Northern Idaho: Coeur D’Alene and Kellogg 

British Columbia: Fernie, Nelson, Rossland, Vernon, Revelstoke, New Denver

The Idaho Favorite: 

No doubt about it, Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg is super fun and well worth checking out – especially if you don't like standing in lines or dealing with other people on the trails, period. You can make your way down the mountain mixing a number of beginner thru advanced trails, “tech” or “flow” – with 3,400’ vertical drop per run. Not kidding.  A beefier all-mtn/trail bike seemed to be the perfect choice here for maximum fun times. There wasn't really one trail that I liked best at Silver Mountain. Honestly, all the blue's and black's were pretty fun. As far as Coeur d'Alene goes, Trail 257 on Mt. Coeur d'Alene was a good time. Very Oakridge-y, mild and playful with smooth, dark dirt.

The BC Favorites

Canadian Trail Ratings: 

I can’t talk about the BC trails without first mentioning the level  of difficulty ratings system. I think a coffee analogy explains it best…  In the US we have the “Americano” which is hot water and two shots of espresso. In Canada, the equivalent is the “Canadiano” which is two shots of espresso added to drip coffee.  Get it? Yes, ratings varied from town to town, but overall certainly more caffeinated than our general Yankee standards.

Fernie Favorite: 

My first run down Project 9 changed my life – it was that f*#ck’n fun. Essentially, you haul ass through a somewhat tight forest, flying over roots and rocks. Small drops give you a little air time and a stretch of multiple big dips/g-out formations make you hang on and giggle. There is a climb in the middle, however, but whatever – this trail still kicks mega ass.  Other fun ones: HyperExtension, Swine Flu, Slunt. Note: the climbs here will give you the quads of a T-Rex (aka: horribly steep and painful).

Nelson Favorite: Feeling G-forces in massive fishbowl berms is addicting. Hands down, the new Turnstyles trail on Morning Mountain is like no other jump trail I’ve ever experienced – except maybe A-Line in Whistler. The use of gravity is perfect (fast!), massive berms, fun jumps, cool berm to berm transitions, fun step-ups, and it’s in pristine condition – not one hole or brake bump. The ultimate trail bike jump trail.  Beyond Turnstyles and most (but not all!) of Morning Mountain, I should mention that Nelson took the difficult rating to another level, in my opinion. So, if you like old skool super steep rooty/rocky nastiness  that will make you pee yourself a little – this is your spot. 

Rossland Favorite: WHHHHISKY!!!!! Honestly, after riding in Nelson, I felt like I could do anything – which made these two trails super, super fun. Whiskey on the Rocks is a bit challenging and connects into Whiskey which is faster mix of flow and tech. Whiskey on the Rocks is made up of multiple rock outcroppings that you ride up, over, and down – some more steep and techy than others. And Whiskey is where you pick up speed and fly over small jumps, around berms, and down rock faces. It’s an absolute blast. Another favorite: Seven Summits Trail – It’s an IMBA Epic and rightfully so.

Vernon (Silver Star) Favorite: This bike park is killer. I would go back in a minute and ride Rockstar over and over and over. Again, I felt like a beefy trail bike was more fun than a DH bike, although there were still a few people here riding DH bikes – which I’m sure are choice on some of the double-black runs. Similar to Silver Mountain this bike park had something for everyone but on a much more expansive scale. In other words, you could easily spend more than one day here.

Revelstoke Favorite: Ah Revelstoke. If I could go back to one place, it would be here. Mainly because we got rained out... and the one trail we did get to ride/slide (in the pouring rain) was AWESOME. That was Ultimate Frisby DH, not to be confused with the very popular “Frisby Ridge”.  With 2,000' of descending, which by Revelstoke standards was short, this loamy trail flew you through lush forest with roots and rocks, and had amazing flow but without man-made features. A number of steep loamy, rocky, or rock face sections throughout the lower part of the trail kept things exciting and challenging – with some “I got this” stop and start overs.  Or not....

New Denver Favorite: I'll be honest... The Butter Trails we rode in New Denver were not favorites. It's not that they sucked by any means; it's when you compare them to other trails we rode...well, they just  don't compare.  The loamy-ness was awesome, but the slow nature of the trail due to features spaced too closely made it a bit awkward to ride. Just my trail snob .02. Regardless of the trail, the view was amazing.

In the end, 3-weeks just wasn't long enough to explore Interior and Eastern BC. We had so many other trail and bike park suggestions from so many people that we would need an entire summer to get to them all. Time to start saving up the precious vacation time again. That or quit, sell the house, and live in the van full-time. Anything is possible with some sacrifice, you know. Dream it, do it!