I have had my share of bikes in the last few years and just like I am working out the kinks with my body I am figuring out how much having right gear goes into making big differences in performance. About three years ago, I moved to a 29er and have not looked back. Somewhere in between I got stuck on having my 29er lighter than most 26 inch bikes and it was easy to see the numbers when you are measuring grams. BUT just like the ideal body race weight there is a sacrifice for going too far on the skinny.
Riding a rigid hardtail may feel faster but the studies have shown time and time again that a full sus is faster and takes less energy to hold the same speed as bouncing around on a hard tail. When you mix in the multisport aspect of having to run off of the bike or racing an endurance mountain bike race (my favorite two sports) it is obvious why suspension is just plain better.
Dowhill was an obvious advantage that I saw...even peddling on the flats but climbing? When I moved from my hard tail to the soft tail this was the first thing I noticed. I was climbing better . . the Moots did not really have a full shock but it was much better than a hard tail. The downside was no lockout and a pedal bob that slowly got to me. In Mammoth, after switching bikes with Ryan I noticed I could flex (laterally) the entire Moots frame by steeping on the pedal with the front brake on... I really never took into account the "flex" of a frame until this point. A little thing that makes another big difference.
Long story but to make it short I found the first frame that has ZERO bob when I am standing, soaks up enough bumps to keep the tire in contact with the ground when I am climbing and makes the downhills feel like I am a kid on a dirt bike ripping it... It is Intense!
With Intense Cycles team of guys like Mike Vine, Chris Legh and girls that are faster than me like Lesley Patterson racing Xterra, Intense frames have been proven again and again to be podium promising. The fact that my hero couple Paul Romero and Karen Lundgren have been racing Intense bikes literally around the globe in multiday adventure races and winning 12hr to XC mountain bike races would be enough for me to see the value of a great frame design. After riding one it was a done deal. I was in love with a Spider.
I was even more blown away and honored that Intense extended a sponsorship to me. I am seriously more stoked than ever to ride and know that this is THE bike for me. After just one ride on the Spider I knew it would make me faster. I was climbing faster at lower heart rates, descending faster without unnecessary risks or wasted energy. Being able to climb without my tire or my butt hopping around offers a consistent power to the ground... the VPP is the real deal and descending was fun and effortless....and the longer the ride or race the more this all adds up.
I always got sharp pains in my back this year and I thought it was from paddling... I didn't realize how much my body was taking the shock where suspension should have. . . and that is just the beginning. This is the first bike that makes me want to sign up for a 24hr solo race because I feel like I could ride it around the clock. I can enjoy some rougher trails without getting beat up and at 25 pounds I really am not loosing anything to gravity either. Light, stiff but plush...hmmm... Sounds pretty intense huh.
More details and pictures to follow but for now I have some routes I want to log on it!