Friday, July 9, 2010

From Gnarly to Flowy: Friday Flight Crew Update

Bull Mountain
Sunday: Bull Mountain
It was the Fourth of July, and I was determined to go riding!  I met up with an awesome rider from Florida named Steve, and we turned our tires toward Bull Mountain for a seriously fun evening of riding. I've been wanting to get the Zep up there to ride, as the Bull Mountain trail is one of the gnarliest in the area.  It has everything: steep, anaerobic climbs; fast, rocky descents loaded with baby heads; washed out roots-turned drop-offs, a few jumps, berms, flow, gnar... the list goes on and on!  

Altogether, I was impressed with how the Zeppelin performed.  I am definitely going to enjoy riding this bike! It tore through the downhills like nobody's business, and railed corners in fine style!

Two things that I wasn't impressed with:
  1. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the Zep is a porker.  Yeah, it weighs in at right about 35-36 lbs, and on some of the brutally steep climbs, that weight took its toll.  Once pointed downhill, however, it was rock solid through everything I could throw at it.  Really, it felt like a point-and-shoot freeride bike, not a 5" travel trail bike.
  2. It felt like I could point and shoot it, except that I had to baby the fork.  The Tora was so over powered, I was afraid to let my weight get too aggressively forward over the bars, and I felt like I was popping wheelies over everything in order to keep the fork from bottoming out harshly and send me pogoing.  There was one point when I let the front end drop too harshly off of a root drop, and the fork bottomed out harshly, kicking my rear tire up in the air and sending me flying off the trail into a small tree!  (Maybe it was more my fault than the bicycle... hard to tell sometimes). I smashed straight through the shrub/tree, rode the front tire for 4-5 feet before I could drop my rear tire back down.  Steve (the guy from Florida) was riding behind me, and told me that it was a brilliant recovery!  I'd prefer not to have to  recover though, if you know what I mean.
Not my picture. Image from here.
Wednesday: Jack Rabbit Trails
The Zeppelin Elite needed to be tested on something a little different from the rough-and-tumble trails of Bull Mountain.  On Wednesday evening my wife and I traveled up to the Jack Rabbit trails near Hayesville, North Carolina.  These trails are the complete anti-thesis of the trails at Bull Mountain, and the stereotypical North Carolina trails.  Expect an indepth review soon, but if I was to describe the trail system in three words it would be, "Fast, flowy hardpack." 

While I really wanted to be riding a 20 pound hardtail, the Zeppelin Elite loved the flow of those singletrack trails!  I pounded it up the slight rises in style, with very minimal rear end bob.  The Zeppelin dived into and out of the bermed-out turns with grace, and generally railed the entire system. 

The handling was sublime everywhere I turned, including some big whoops and a massive tree-ride feature.  I really couldn't be more pleased!

Sorry about the lack of multimedia content from Jack Rabbit.  Currently having issues with my laptop, and am blogging from the library.  Look for a ton of video footage and several photographs sometime next week.

Big Picture
Altogether I am thoroughly enjoying my time riding my beautiful Airborne bicycle.  From the gnarly trails of Bull Mountain to the smooth cruisers of Jack Rabbit, I've been trying to throw a little bit of everything at this bicycle.  Next up: Stonewall Falls and White Twister in Clayton, Georgia.

Your Turn:  When you are testing out a bicycle or are putting your new ride through its paces, what do you throw at it to see how it responds?  What do you think really tests your bike? Is it rock gardens, cornering ability, climbing ability, how it handles in the air, something different, or a combination?

Please feel free to share your thoughts below, and remember, your comment could win you free gear!


Chrissa July 13, 2010 at 2:27 PM  

I ride a Giant Rincon with the fork set a litte stiff. I had to after bottoming out in a root drop at Chicopee earlier this year and loosing a toe nail, that was right before I started clipping in.

My Rincon is my first mtb, before it I was riding a 10 yr old rigid Huffy. I love flying over roots in my Rincon, still learning how to jump and catch air though, but I think that has more to do with needing more upper body strength.

Jackrabbit is a great place to introduce someone to mtb and to make sure they'll come back for more. Also a great place to take the dog for their 7 mile+ run with plenty of lake for them to drink from and cool off in. Can't wait to get back up there.

Greg Heil July 13, 2010 at 5:21 PM  

Hey Chrissa, thanks for the comment! I actually rode at Chicopee this morning. I love the trails there: fun, well built singletrack! It was my first time up at Jack Rabbit, and I definitely have to say I loved it! More importantly, my wife, who isn't hardcore into mountain biking ALSO loved it. I can see more trips up there in the future ;)

Yeah, I already have that fork set as stiff as it goes, and I'd still like it stiffer. I need to do more fiddling I think.

So yeah, thanks for the comment, and welcome to the amazing sport of mountain biking!!!

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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