I am lucky to be writing this update today. Yesterday while out riding at Bald Mountain I was going through a slight downhill section that is very fast and came around a corner to see a park utility vehicle coming right at me, also travelling at a good clip. The vehicle, or gator as they are called, took up almost all of the trail, especially as the trail is partly overgrown right now.
I hit the brakes hard while pulling off to the right as much as I could, all the while hoping that there wasn't anything sticking up or out of the brush that I was forced into. We passed each other with inches to spare and their eyes were probably as wide as mine. The gator never really slowed down and I kept going at a slightly slower pace but my heart rate remained up for a while. I can only imagine the damage a collision with that thing would have caused. The poor bike!
I was out testing the latest change to my Scalpel. I was not satisfied with the way it handled with the 29" wheel up front. The taller front end made short, steep climbs more difficult as well as quick transitions in the corners. It was great in the straight line or downhills.
I had borrowed a 26" wheel to put on there and the bike felt a lot better but of course that is what it is designed to use. I still had the problem of a low bar to seat relationship due to the geometry of the bike but I found out that Cannondale makes a longer steerer tube. I had one of those shipped to me and now the bars and seat are relatively close in height.
Tuesday I picked up my new 650b front wheel to try on the Scalpel. This wheel size is measured at 27.5", or half way between a 26" and a 29" wheel. The size has been around for a long time but over the last couple of year it has started to make inroads in the mountain biking community. It provides some benefits of both of the other sizes but is still limited in tire selection.
I have a Stan's NoTubes 355 rim on the Lefty hub and the Pacenti Quasi-Moto tire on it for now. Schwalbe is our tire sponsor but I couldn't get their 650b tire. After two rides I am very pleased with both the bike handling and the tire. The larger wheel has slowed the handling a bit so that it feels fairly similar to the 29" bikes I have and the wheel rolls over some of the small things better. Climbing does not seem to be a problem either. I plan on doing some long rides this weekend on this bike to determine if it is the bike I will use for the Lumberjack or stick with the 29'er.