Twas to be a 'normal' sunday ride with the posse (Steve, Andy, Wayne, Tony, Lance), and i'd finally picked up a Pugsley off Dave from velo-ideale. His personal machine, it was an extra large, in gunmetal grey, and came with Surly Open Bars (like i've got on the commuter), and running singlespeed, but with 2 ratio options, a 35:16 for town, and 30:21 for hill. a very manual shifter, ie, flip bike, loosen hub bolts, shift chain from cog to cog, straighten wheel, tighten chain, tighten bolts.
XL, Phat tyred...
Town gear was good on the flat, i had a bit of a play around my street and tried out different tire pressures. When i got it off him the pressure was pretty low, so low in fact that it didnt register on my floorpump... so, with tires set to 20psi i spun across to Steve's for the 'normal' ride on a very abnormal bike. Once up and rolling it spun along quite nicely, the tires humming away, but not feeling that hard work. Seat was too low, which i adjusted once i was at Steves.
The boys all had to have a quick turn on it, all of them oohing and aahing at the somewhat preposterousness of it, but also at its total coolness. And all expressing surprise at the apparent lack of weight.
Off round Hansons and up Ramahana we went. I managed to stay on top of the town gear to the first corner, where i flipped her over and made the shift. From here up, much nice riding, cleaning everything except a sizeable portion of the very top piece of seal, then the gravelly bit before the second gate. Oh, and a bit of the gravelly bit right up near the top. Steve was feeling crooked so turned back before we even made the dirt.
At the summit i let a little air out of the tires, and off we hooned round the Traverse. Felt pretty good, grip on rocks was spectacular. I overcooked a couple of corners, i think due to the 29r nature of the tiresize more than anything. but soon got the hang of it and enjoyed the trip round the trail, particular enjoying getting a bit of speed up on the nice downhill bit towards the pond. Was probably travelling slightly slower than normal, 2 reasons for this, firstly not wanting to over-cook myself, but also inability to pedal any faster than flat out in such a low gear.
The dipper was cool, cos as i came up the other side the rear tire left the ground, and when it hit the ground again i was travelling slower than it was spinning so it actually gave me a nice wee kick up and over the crest. Rest of the ride round the bike just stuck to the trail, no wash, no slip, and flew into round and into the forest, me really getting the hang of it.
Down Thompsons was a blast, me juuuust making it round the first hairpin. Final section great grip.
Kiwi up road to Nun was okay, sitting for most of it, the 30:21 a great gear, the tires really not that sucky, gasping the last half of Worsley's Rd to the dirt, then clambering up it pretty good.
Does my butt look big in this?
Top of the Nun, rearing to go.
Little bit more air out of the tires and down i went. possibly still too much air, but, and i still wasnt overly confident of my handling skills, so took every bunny route, but it was still really good. flew down, enjoying the traction and boingy-ness. Pulled out half way, as did the others, but Andrew never showed. We could see him waaay up on one of the first straights so waited a bit, then Lance and me took off down the rest of the trail and the pug sang its way down this section. Awesomeness! Then back up to the others and still no Andrew. Eventually we saw him rolling and then we all headed back up to top of Worsley again. Off down the bodybag, a few riders on their way up drove me into a gravelly rut which the big fat tires just boinged me on through.
Tight wee clamber up to the Hidden and this is where Pugsley really found its place. the loose dirt, pine needles and odd rock feature were just eaten up under the high volume tires. Absolutely fantastic. At the bottom we rolled where Nelson and i had days previous, below the tank (through a little muck), only to find someone else has treaded in a line from just after the tank, down to the same line Nelson and I coifferred on Thursday.
At the gate i flipped the Pug on its back again, changed gears to 'town mode' and put some more air back in the tires, then we headed down the road, me taking as much sidetrack as possible, and down thru the nasty long grass down the lower road section then out past Cracroft and home into a blasting easterly gale.
Will i buy a Pugsley? Almost definitely, eventually. It was insanely cool, but probably not this time round. I'd go for a smaller size frame, obviously. The 29r factor would take a little getting used to, and that's where a 24inch based rim with 4inch tires might fill a 26r based niche. But the sheer possibilities of the Pugsley attract me. I can see it being an awesome all season rider in Hanmer, or Craigieburn - anywhere in the hills really. and a fun ride at the beach, off piste Bottle Lake meanderings. I'd love to try it down the Craigieburn Luge in mid winter on a snow base. or a winter tour up the Poulter. There's deifinitely a space for it in my quiver one day. I told my son they can buy me one in 3 years for my birthday... :)