Today was the first day I've really have had a chance to take my new 29er out for a proper ride in the dirt. I went with a guy who knows the trails well and where they all are.
We stated out easy enough with a quick 5 miles on the road to the trail head. This trail was pretty flat and wide. Being a rookie Ted thought this would be a good way to get to know the new ride and break into dirt riding. This was an absolute ball with some man made obstacles, trees to cross and just enough moisture in the dirt for good bite. I enjoyed this 5 miles of back woods a lot.
The next 15 miles was anything but easy. Lot of granny gear steep climbs, lots of rocks, lot of roots and big trees and tight steep downhill turns. This section was hard, slow, fast and rugged. I tried to ride slow on the downhill's as much as I could but still found trouble.
Crash number one happen on a tight turn heading back up hill. I was in a low gear and hit a root which caused my back wheel to bounce causing my forward motion to stop and over I went. Crash number two was three feet later as I was trying to get going again spinning out on the wet rocks. That drew a bit of blood when I bounced off the big rock. I didn't feel too bad because a guy who had entered the trail right in front of us there and was having the same problem. Crash number three was trying to cross a stair step over a tree. Not going very fast at all but just wasn't square and the bike slid off the side of the tree and on my butt I landed with a nice Cat 5 tattoo to add insult.
Crash number four was on a rough downhill and I'm trying to go easy but clipped a tree with the left end of the handlebar. That spill tossed me down a small embankment with mud covering my right leg just for good measure. How I didn't get hurt in that one is small miracle.
All this abuse to me and the new bike never even so much as suffered a scratch that I can tell. That might change as I wash all of the mud off it later. But quick inspections on the trails after each get off didn't show any damage. It still rode and shifted just fine which is more than I can say about the rider. I've got a hunch tomorrow morning is going to feel like the first day of high school football practice.
All in all 20 miles of mud, rocks, roots, trees, hills and water crossings and I had an absolute blast. But man was it hard riding. 50 miles on my road bike is much easier!