2018 was a rough year for my riding. Winter weather kept me off the bike last year. Less so because it was “bad” weather, and more because I simply didn’t have the right clothes for the conditions. By the time springtime rolled around, I was doing pretty well. Feeling stronger and fitter because my ride frequency was pretty good. Then summer hit – ugh. I started a physically demanding job and I was just too tired to ride very often. So my riding fitness suffered. It didn’t help that 2018 was a brutally wet year in Western NC. May, especially. 20-40″ of rain for the month, depending on exactly where you measured. I picked up frequency again in the fall, but my annual mileage was unrecoverably down by this point.
I also broke some stuff this year.
In the year plus that I’ve lived here, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Salsa Bucksaw isn’t an ideal all-situations bike for this area. It’s great when speeds are low and the trail is chunky. I did my first bikepacking on it early in 2018, and it was a great platform for that. However, for day-to-day riding around here, it has its limitations. The biggest being that I simply haven’t been able to get the tires and suspension to play nice on fast, chunky downhills. The extra bounce from the big tires just overwhelms the suspension. So, I’ve decided that I need a long-term bike plan for riding here.
It took a lot of demo rides for me to decide where I wanted to start. But one ride in particular stood out.
I’m taking my sweet time with this build. I bought the frame back in September and I’ve been slowly adding bits and pieces. I’ll be building the wheels myself this time around, and have signed up for a wheelbuilding class at the Appalachian Bicycle Institute. Right now, the parts I’m buying are to set me up for the class. I’ve been having conversations with the instructor regarding parts selection and I’ve got a plan in place for that right now. One more tool to be delivered, and I’ll be able to measure the ERD of the rims.
Aside from the picture above, I’m not sharing the parts I’ve bought, or plan to buy. I’m going to leave you with a touch of suspense. You’ll have to wait for the rest. I’ll probably have a whole post dedicated to the wheel build (and the course) later on, but before the bike is complete.
One reason I’ve decided to start with a hardtail is that aside from being a fun bike, it’s good to have one to grab for its simplicity and how different it feels compared to a full suspension. It’ll be a great bike for smoother trails, for sure. But I’m also building it up to be perfectly capable on the rowdy stuff, too. And I will definitely be grabbing it to ride just about everywhere, at least at first. Where I go from there is going to depend on how I like riding it on the burlier trails. I’ll also play around with bikepacking on it. Because why not?