Allamuchy is always a challenging place to ride. When we meet up at “Tranquility Base” we are faced with a solid mile of climbing, at a minimum, just to get to the main set of trails. After that, we have everything from fast, flat single track, slick rock, fast climbs, loose climbs, bombing descents and insane rock gardens. In short, it’s a perfect place to take a new MTB for a proper introduction.
As we wandered around the mountain, I became more and more comfortable with letting the suspension do it’s job, and just keep putting the power into the pedals. We came upon one roll-in drop ab0ut 3 feet high. Tsvi rolled in on his KHS, and I followed him. The rock face was well over 70% grade, and very smooth. I felt the front shock compress and the front wheel rolled forward easily. Piece of cake! I would have NEVER tried this on the Giant.
Later, we were coming up another climb and I sprinted past Tsvi. As I rode past, he said “you know where we are, right?” I push past, turn a corner and am face to face with my nemesis: Moon Rock. I’ve only made it up this monster chunk of granite once. I pop the front wheel up onto the slope, and easily scramble up onto the 1st, then 2nd sections and pop over the top. I was totally stoked!!
Toward the end of the ride, we were on a section of the 24hr course from a few years back. It’s a twisty, technical rock garden, mostly flat, but a couple of up-and-down sections. Most of the time I would walk this section, because the Giant’s limited suspension made it too hard to control the bike. I was third in line (of the 5 riders). Bob (on his Salsa hard tail) and Tsvi (on his KHS softtail) got bounced out of their saddles. I swung around them, and just railed the whole section like it was smooth pavement. Again, totally stoked about how well the bike worked.
The last section of our ride found us climbing a big honkin’ hill from the last 24hr race I attended. It’s a full mile of steep-to-silly-steep climbs. Log falls, loose rock, narrow trail, and big rocks litter the climb. I’ve only done this whole climb when I was relatively fresh. Today, I had 11.5 miles in my legs at the bottom of the hill. I dropped into the granny gear, fell in behind Tsvi, and slowly made my way up the hill. 10 minutes of 160+ HR later, we were at the top. I was pretty tired, but not as bad as I’ve felt in the past on the Giant. Again, an amazing Mojo revelation.
Finally, we were on Sue’s trail, the big 2 mile downhill back to the cars. I go off the front, make a small prayer and point the Mojo down the trail. As we begin to pick up speed, the bike’s handling really begins to shine. The DW Link suspension keeps the wheels stuck to the trail, the shocks absorb the punishment of the rocks, roots and drop-offs and the Blue-Groove shod 819’s grip or slide at my command. After a short bit I ease off on the brakes and just let the bike go. It reacts like a racehorse on the home stretch. Any course correction I need the bike seemingly anticipated like a living thing. I begin to just tilt the bike one way or the other, letting weight and speed carve the descent.
I finally blow out the bottom of the trail, back at the cars and have to wait a bit until Tsvi catches me. This has NEVER happened. Normally I’m the one at the back of the pack, carefully picking my way down the trail. Tsvi said he was barely able to keep me in sight. I looked down and saw that I had hit 21.5 mph on that descent! WOW… that was an E-ticket ride for sure!
I was totally pumped the whole drive home, until I got to Bedminster. At that point, the ride caught up with me and I began to have serious leg cramps. I pulled over to get gas and stretch, but when I tried to get out of the car I had massive cramps in both hamstrings, and my right hip flexor. I was sitting in the car with both legs sticking straight out the door, grimacing in pain. Fortunately, the gas station attendant is a soccer player, and was very familiar with these kinds of cramps. He helped me out of the car and let me walk off my cramps, even after the car was filled and ready to move on.
All in all it was a banner day for my MTB skills. I learned a TON about how the Mojo handles a lot of different terrain, and slayed several of my trail demons in the process. Only a small lack-of-concentration fall marred a perfect ride, and I’ve now got some nifty chain-ring bite marks on my ankle as a reward!
2hrs 25min and 14.7 miles later, I can say that I definitely have the right bike.