On a lighter note…..
This year’s CTR was my first bikepacking race on a full suspension bike, my Ibis Ripley. In fact one reason I wanted to head back out there into those familiar hills was that riding this bike has changed how I ride. It is smooth, fast and most of all FUN! Imagine that, having fun in a bikepacking race!?!
In the past I let weight and efficiency rule my choices. Most hardtails will always be lighter and carry more gear, they are cheaper and require less maintainance, this is all true. But after 2013’s race I swore never to beat my hands, feet and butt like that ever again.
Then last summer I got a Ripley. First high country ride I did was Fossil Ridge, a long rough, rutted, nasty ride that usually leaves one feeling like a scrambled egg, yet the bike shone like a star, it simply ate up the rock gardens and made me giggle and smile.
Was it faster? Hard to say, the motor wasn’t as well tuned as in years past so my time was slower. I do truly believe that had I wanted to not sleep and push my legs harder, it would have been much much faster.
In the end, it was about having fun and full squish is so damn fun, even loaded down with gear strapped and zip tied all over and food jiggling around the bike handled awesome. Allowing me to ride faster on both climbs and descents. I cleaned some moves that would have been marginal even on a normal ride and I can not tell you how any times it literally saved my life when I pointed it the wrong way and managed to ride through it anyways.
I am not here to proclaim the hardtail dead, or even endangered. I am gonna say that in most singletrack races, the squishy bike is the better choice by far. With some creative gear and bag choices it is possible to carry all you need and have way more fun.
Cause remember, it is all about having Fun!!!