Last weekend Neta got her first taste of a 14,000 foot mountain with me. We did Gray's Peak at 14,2oosomething feet on Sunday afternoon. The weather forecast said we have a 0% chance of rain for the day so we took off way late, stopped in Evergreen for breakfast and finally hit the trail maybe by noon. My goal was to have the summit to ourselves because if there is one thing I hate it's sharing my hard earned summits. We totally had the summit to ourselves and spent a solid hour just basking in the thin air and sun, it was a show trying to get up the mountain with the whole world of tourists trying to come down from wherever they decided they should turn around but once we were there the mountain was empty... it was gorgeous and pristine.
I literally just recovered from the effort of 7 days ago though. I have now done the Grand Canyon, the highest peak in AZ (13ish), and many more smaller 12,000 foot peaks in the same pair of TNF trail runners all year. And they gave up the ghost about 5 hikes ago. My calves were wrecked and I got a crazy end of the season cold from the sustained impact to my body and low oxygen intake and was laid up for almost 2 days straight. Which was a mega bummer because the weather was perfect all week and I spent my off days watching cheezy netflix movies instead of ripping singletrack on my new bike.
On to the new bike. I finally pulled the trigger last month on a new mountain bike after spending the majority of the summer borrowing bikes from sales reps and coworkers after my Giant broke. After riding pretty much every platform available to me this summer I had a pretty good idea that I wanted a 5x5 26" XC bike. The rebel in me felt terrible since I have been on 29" wheels for sooo long and preached the good book to soooo many riders. I almost felt like a hypocrite and weighed deeply my options, not for my own benefit on trail but solely to save face on the bikes I've hated on for so long.
So I ended up getting a smoking deal on an Australian spec Specialized Camber Expert 26er. The Camber seemed like the perfect bike for me at 120mm of travel front and rear with some cheech 10 speed parts and decent boings on either end. The bike is technically supposed to fit between the Epic and the Stumpjumper FSR levels in the Spec lineup. But I saw it as a different beast after I rode all 3 back to back. The Camber does not get the patented Specialized "Brain" on any of it's models, regardless if it's the $1600 comp or the $8300 Carbon Pro. In theory the Brain is cool, I realize that all suspension bikes need a platform shock to pedal anywhere close to efficiently and the uber adjustability coupled with the moron proofness of the brain is excellent for the masses. But I kind of understand how suspension works and don't mind messing with it so the brain just is not my cup of tea. It makes the downhills less cush and the uphills feel like you are on your old hardtail with some ridiculous linkage that does nothing.
The Camber came stock with a Fox Triad in the rear with the pro-pedal and lockout option. I've used all of the settings on all of my favorite trails now and can honestly say that as a trail bike if I leave the bike fully open it rides like a dream up and down. If I switch on the pro-pedal it will easily hold it's own against the Epic on the uphills and punish it on the downhills. In fact the bike has the same parts spec as the 26" Epic comp from 2011 but weighs a full pound less because of the minimalist in line linkage and loss of the brain cartridge. Which brings me to my last point, the bike weighed 27.10 lbs with Shimano 515 pedals and a bottle cage bone stock. So it's a damn light bike for something that wears a $2500 pricetag. I intend to keep tearing it up on this rig til next spring and then maybe going to an SJ FSR with an RP23 as a brain replacement, but until then I am loving this budget lightweight bruiser.
So here's to new summits, new bikes and other things.