This past week contained lots of events. Charlie Sheen's one-man disaster-a-polooza hit NYC. The federal government decided to stay open for business. Frozen Flatlands and Ronde von Palouse bookended the week. It was Spring Break for Spokane Public Schools. And most important of all, our bikes were finished. After a Winter Solstice Non-Denominational Holiday start to our project, we were finally finishing up construction in time for no-longer-known-as-"Easter Break" week off of school.
It was a long time coming with a few fits and starts. Or maybe that should be "fits and parts." We had some parts that didn't fit and a few that were delayed. The much-anticipated Shimano wheels were missing and with an unknown arrival date, so we starting making some substitutions and rounding up parts and pieces to ensure that a few days off school were filled with bike riding.
Even though the shop was filling rapidly with anticipation of spring fix-its, repairs, tune-ups and builds, Steve and Larry pushed through the final build of these bikes early last week. The rain wasn't kind to start, and we had some difficulties with our UST-sized rims and particularly tight Conti Mountain Kings, but the later week was looking great.
Our inaugural ride was a short jaunt up the bottom of the High Drive Bluff. We didn't really have enough light to embark on the trip, but the anticipation was too much for me, so even though the kids would probably have agreeably waited for the next day, I green-lighted a short ride into the declining light. We really just got to the trails in time to turn-around, but there was deep satisfaction in finally getting to ride these bikes that had been on our minds for so long.
The next day had been over-scheduled, over-booked and otherwise filled, so other than a few minutes of puttering, we were going to have wait another day for the first real rides. As I often am forced to say, life interferes with my bike riding. I think the anticipation made it all the sweeter though when we finally got our first long stints on the single speeds.
Since all three of us were new to this, I wanted to start out with some flatter riding and friendly trails. We took the time to drive to the Seven Mile entrance to Riverside State Park and dove in. We started with a helping of the outer loop of the 24 Hour course around to 5-Minute Hill. At the bottom I wasn't confident of my ability to get to the top with a single gear on offer. All three of us are riding a 32-22, with the idea that it is better to give up some speed on the flats to feel like we can get up more hills. That proved to be the case on 5-Minute Hill as I was pleased to make it to the top with a not-unreasonable amount of groaning. I was surprised to see my 15-year old grinding up behind me and pleased to see that he made it to the top. My 13-year old decided to save his legs for the long-haul and just dabbled with the hill before turning back, but it was our first taste of more serious climbing. We re-grouped at the bottom of the hill and made our way back to the parking lot for a satisfying lunch.
After that repast, we started on the inner loop of the 24 Hour course. We had a couple of jarring stops in rock garden areas and my younger son learned the hard way the importance of unclipping his new pedals before coming to a complete stand-still, but overall it was another satisfying run. We rolled into the landing strip/start-finish area and continued past for some gratuitous flat single track on the way back, but ending up spending most of three hours tooling around on our single speeds with more to come the next day.
Initial Verdict - Most Excellent.