Last weekend I only got a taste of trail riding but I knew I wanted more. So, I ordered up a new single speed sprocket and chain and gave it another shot this morning. I was on the trail by 7:30am. It was in the low 60s and sunny and I was the only person on the trail. Absolutely perfect conditions. The bike worked flawlessly this time and I successfully completed about 14 miles out-and-back on the Bartram Trail (red part).
I got my first mountain bike in 1984 when I was in junior high school. Back then, most people didn’t know what a mountain bike was. Since then I have swapped back and forth between trail bikes and road bikes depending on where I lived and whether or not I had easy access to good trails. I have always had a soft spot for mountain biking. There’s something about the technical and physical challenge combined with the close connection with nature that makes trail riding so much more engaging and rewarding than road biking for me. Plus, you don’t have to worry about getting hit by crazy drivers and when you fall the ground is relatively soft. Notice I said “when” ;-)
This is my first time on a trail on a single speed 29er and I have to say I’m smitten. The 33X20T gearing was perfect for this rolling south Alabama trail. There were only a couple of climbs where I had to unclip and walk it up and I probably would have ad to do that on a multi-speed bike anyway due to the roots and whatnot. The 2.3″ wide 29er tires simply floated over all the roots and rocks on the trail and provided incredible stability while climbing and on the countless sandy switchbacks. I think I would prefer a front shock mainly because my wrists and shoulders aren’t as tough as they used to be. Otherwise, I was very happy with the ride, the bike and myself. (The 100+ miles I’ve put in on my road bike this week definitely helped my fitness.) The only negative aspect of the ride was my water bottle got covered with sand making for a gritty mouth:
I’ll keep riding the Hamilton as long as we’re in Auburn and have access to great trails like Bartram. In fact, I’m already planning my next ride! If we end up somewhere with decent mountain biking (fingers crossed!) I’ll probably upgrade to a purpose built single speed 29er mountain bike (remember, the Hamilton is really a city bike). This looks pretty cool ;-)