Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Epic Day...first impressions

I'm a lucky girl. Not only do I have the full support for racing in 2009 from hubby, but he also agreed to buy me what is, arguably, the best full suspension race machine in existence today - the 2009 S-Works Epic.

He picked up the Epic from the local bike shop just after New Year's. The bike sat clean and warm in the house for a week before it finally migrated out to the garage for some fine tuning and general fitting. The power fit is scheduled for a week from tomorrow. Excited about that one. It'll be my first, and I hope the bike is a tad more comfy following the full fit and efficiency deal.

But, we did the full "parking lot test" last night. Justin didn't get the obligatory shot of me riding around in the dark outside, but promised to get a lot of pics of me today on the bike during its first ride.

We got to bed pretty late last night, and Justin came in after rumaging around in the kitchen saying he had bad news... the tickle in his throat had turned into a full blown cold.

Got up this morning and he decided not to ride. I went through our cabinet shelf of meds (which doesn't get used very often) to find out what we had...

No worries; I still had to get in my time. I got a late start, but we eventually got to the trails to find a thoroughly full parking area out there. I don't think I've seen it that crowded except for on race day. Lots of people out pre-riding the mostly marked course for 12 Hours in January.

While I was getting dressed I looked outside and realized Justin had let SOMEONE ELSE do the first spin on the dirt! I was a bit peeved, but I hope Jason Ranoa enjoyed the "first dirt" on the new steed.

I got ready and spun around the dirt and eventually Justin said I was cleared to head out. We had changed the seat and checked out the suspension.

The ONLY shot he got of me all day... so much for promising a bunch!

I went out a bit behind Jason's group, and a group riding with another local racer, Chad W. There was a bit of traffic heading up the Marine Corps climb, but I wound my way through the riders and continued my climbing...

My serious real first impression of the bike? How does *anyone* without monkey arms reach the bottle cage?! No I am not joking. Luckily I happen to have long-ass monkey arms, so I can just barely grab onto the bottle, but if you have short arms - good luck!

Aside from that, the bike was pretty good, but just climbing up a fire road didn't provide me with much to go on. My HR jumped around like a hopped up kind in a fun jump. I got to the first short rocky descent and no one was around. I started out on the brakes, but just let go and OH MY. The fork was sooo buttery smoothe. It was amazing. The bike was so thoroughly confidence inspiring.

Yes, I was on a XC race machine and the first thing I noticed was how well it was descended.

I took it easy on my lap, missed the same switchback I had on Thursday night on my Dos, and continued up up and away. I wound up passing the guy I had earlier let by, and wound up continuing on the course while Jason's group chilled at an intersection.

I was able to ride the new singletrack that I had tripoded Thursday night (I'm not particularly fond of riding a trail for the first time in the dark), and continued on to the ridgeline. It was effin' windy. No joke. I thought I was going to get blown off the trail. It was crazy. It was windy the entire way down the ridge until I got to the sand wash climb. Then it was just sandy.

I was able to ride about as much sand as I had on the 29er, but I think the 29ers do float a bit better in the sand.

Hiked up Marlin again, and then kept having "life flashing before my eyes" moments descending the Marlin ridgeline with the ridiculous wind. It wasn't as bad anywhere on the course as it was on Marlin. I almost was blown over 3 times (not just it was really windy, I actually thought I was going over and down the hillside).

From there I headed up the usual Ambulance to Tunnel. The only thing I noticed was that I was having a really hard time controlling my HR. No matter. Down tunnel and the one big early corner I railed! This bike was stable going down hill. I felt super comfortable. The fork was still awesome.

Justin had the Brain on the fork turned off, or nearly off. But, the fork was just butta. I couldn't have been happier. I was somewhat nervous about the fork's performance, but it was killer.

I was finishing up the lap and wound up hitting a little drop off, and a jump before heading back. Mind you, these are "XC" features. But, the bike was great! The rear suspension felt a little slow, and was definitely more noticeable when it "hit".

I pulled back in after my lap and went over everything with Justin. He thought the shock was a little low on air pressure, and there was a bit of oil coming out. Nothing major and he wiped it off and it didn't come back after another 1.5 hours of riding.

He turned the Brain on a bit more front and rear and I decided to do the real test... Dam climb! I took it pretty easy on the way out there, and noticed way more sand than normal. Is that what happens when no one rides the fire road and it rains? Lots of sand builds up? Maybe.

I noticed on a few small declines that I could sit and the bike just plowed through stuff. It's almost like the first time you ride a downhill bike and you realize that suspension can just be plush and wonderful and work.

It was sort of like that Mercedes (?) commercial where you see the tires being bumped around on the rollers and the people inside are just smooth and flat. It was that good.

I got out to the turn and hit the lap timer to time myself up the hill. I middle ringed up Chalk Hill, which I don't normally do, for some force work, but otherwise did a bit of small ring, and a bit of middle. The bike was a good climber. The front end liked to come up a bit more than I was used to, but it may have just been positioning.

I was noticing a bit more hand/shoulder pain than I should've been feeling in that little time. I just figure it's because I don't have my comfy team green Ergon grips yet! My current black pair is staying on the Dos, since that'll still be a main ride for me. The Epic will get his own grips when they come in!

From the top I just took the fire road, braved the first ridgeline again, then did Tunnel as my final descent. The Brain being "on" was definitely more noticeable. The suspension still worked just as well when it needed to, but the buttery smoothe plush-ness was no more. Easy to dial back in, though.

When standing, climbing out of the saddle, the fork was a lot like the Reba when it was locked out. The bob was about the same, but the fork was soft when hitting anything going downhill.

I got back to the parking area and Justin was mid-nap. I fueled up and headed back out for some self-timer shots.

Cockpit shot

Climbing up Marine Corps

Guess I should've stood up for scientific purposes, eh?

The goods

Descending Marine Corps (not as smooth as time #1! - but not bad)

Handlebar shot, cause y'know... I gotta.

Climbing up Bridges...these self timers shots are tough!

Rocks on Tunnel

Drop in fail...not only did I fail to get air on the mini-drop, but my self-timer shot was wickedly off!

Somewhat of an "epic" fail itself... I was trying to get a "when hobby's collide" shot, but the wind kept blowing the bars back into the bike, so this is all I got.

It is weird coming around the corner on Tunnel to the sound of r/c 8th scale engines and the smell of nitro fuel. I had thought those days were long over. For anyone curious - no. I don't miss it. I miss some of the people, but not the standing around in the dirt covered in fumes and grease and eating Jack in the Box ;) Eh, it was fun while it lasted... Besides, Tyler is probably too big to trashcan now anyway.

I wrote down some notes, but it's past my bedtime and they're across the room.

Overall, the bike was confidence inspiring on the downhills, and I think once I get to the put the power down on the climbs it'll be a rocket. I felt pretty good, but am hoping the fit gets the bars up a tad to take some pressure off my hands and shoulders. Legs felt great. I've been having random back problems, so I don't think my discomfort today was bike related.

Overall, can't wait to ride this thing some more. Come March I'll likely be on it a LOT. But, the Dos is definitely gonna see plenty of ride time in the coming weeks as well.

Though, to build some strength I was thinking about turning it into a SS! :eek: We'll see if Justin lets me go through with that one... Rigid SS I'm thinking 20.5lbs! SSWC watch out!

Just kidding, of course. He'd never let me go rigid SS. But it is oh so fun sometimes...

For anyone curious, the medium with bottle cage and pedals was 22lbs even. I did my personal bathroom scale weight test (it's a good scale that goes down to .2 increments - Omron). Justin did some grinding and switched out a few screws, but otherwise it's box stock. Will be until the SRAM order comes in. I'm also looking forward to going back to X.0 on it. The XTR works aight (*ahem*), but just doesn't feel as snappy. I also kept having to look for the front trigger shifter. Just wasn't used to it at all.

Until next time... Goodnight.


tim said...

back on a 26'er! awesome. congrats on the new bike/sponsors. see you at the races! (tim/troupe racing co)

Luke said...

that bike makes your shoes look really old! ;)

cool stuff...glad its sworking out for ya. it'll be just another piece to the puzzle in your quest for xc domination this year!

Vu said...

Congrats on the new bike.
I raced on previous generation epic and I pleased with it and I'm sure the new ones are even better. If it weren't for team obligations, I would definitely consider one of these as my next bike. You should look into running a 2x9 setup ex. 38/26, it's not for everyone but if it fits your riding style, it's a really nice set up.

Good luck for the 2009 race season.