Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grasshopper and friends enjoy Nelson's trail treats

Sue's 2012 El Saltamontes basking in the glorious Nelson sun

This year’s arrival of spring proper was well timed for number one Ventana tifosi and mother to the Mountain Pedaler; Sue. A stack of new frame designs were incubated over New Zealand’s winter at the North California factory, with the El Ciclon and El Rey released prior to the venerable El Saltmontes (the grasshopper), which finally hatched a few weeks back.

Sporting a multitude of new features including a tapered head tube, press fit bottom bracket, slacker geometry, 3D rockers, an optimised pivot and asymmetrical chainstays, the new frame made for an excellent replacement to Sue’s well loved 2006 Salty, which had seen many states of dirt in the hills around Nelson.

The pimped build was highlighted by Chris King hubs and Hope X2 race brakes

The bike was assembled to a custom spec with fruity bits like a custom Stans/Chris King wheelset, WTB’s ferociously grippy Wolverine tires and a Rock Shox Reveb for gnarly descending manoeuvres. Drive train was largely supplied by SRAM with a custom XTR crankset of 165mm length decked out with a 36 22 ring combo to help Sue conquer the steep climbs Nelson is famed for.
SRAM 2x10 drivetrain used a custom double ring combo up front to suit Sue's climbing style

With the bike assembled, it was only fair that Heidi and I took a trip to Nelson to get the bike setup dialled and of course at the same time sample the blossoming selection of trails on offer.

Saturday saw a comprehensive tour of the Codgers area including Turners, Old Dog new Tricks, IV line, P51, Pipilini and Firball. While some were new instant classics that are testament to the burgeoning skill of local builders, it was the rejuvenated ones I enjoyed most. The new lines oozed flow, with plenty of grade reversals to make excellent use of the elevation on offer. Fortunately parts of each track still payed homage to the steep sketchy fall lines that were the Nelson standard of old, with a few bum clenching moments to keep you on your toes and remind you what it is to be alive.
Fireball road climb was rewarded with a multitude of singletrack descents

The trail network they’ve developed is amazing and I for one will be returning for an extended summer holiday, looping the amazing network together for endless days of singletrack shredding.
Sue descending on the newly buffed IV line to round at a solid day of singletrack.

While Sue obviously loves the tracks, her new Salty with its relaxed geometry, fatter tires and glowing grinch green paintwork suits the evolved trails to a tee. It was with sadness that we left, but rest assured she’ll keep them well ridden in the long summer that lies ahead.

Mountain Pedaler out...