The right tool for the job

About 20 years ago, I had a Saturday morning ride planned and was running a bit late.

I loaded my XC bike into the truck, not as smoothly as usual, and tore the derailleur completely off the bike as it caught on the tail gate. Being that I was already late, I didn’t have time to fix it, so I grabbed the next bike in line and headed toward the ride.

As I pulled my DH race bike out of the truck, my buddies gave me some peculiar looks. We were doing three laps of Burnaby Mountain. About a 30-minute climb and some fun descending on each lap. The climbs had some steep sections and the descents were fast and fun, but not overly technical.

So we aimed for the trails, five friends with lightweight short travel bikes and me on an 8” travel bike with a 38-tooth chain ring. Oh yeah, my seat post was so short I had to stand up the entire time.

I made it up the first two times to find everyone waiting patiently. I had lots of fun on the descents, but I skipped the third lap and had a nap in my truck while the gang ripped a third fast lap.

A couple of weeks back we had one of our youth riders arrive on a full DH bike. It was a nice bike and in good shape, but it was heavy and big. We rode Woods Creek that night and our little ripper struggled, to say the least. Imagine pushing a big squishy bike, that measures in at half your body weight, through a bunch of technical rooty XC trails. It was a tough slog, but to my surprise this kid just kept pushing. It was inspiring to watch. But, as he was leaving in the car I think he may have been asleep already. It reminded me of my nap all those years ago. The wrong tool for the job can really wear you down.

One week later, the same kid arrived on a far lighter XC bike and holy smokes what a difference. He rode everything, didn’t struggle at all and had about 10 times more fun. And when he left, I saw a big smile instead of a sleepy kid.

I’m sure he and I will have loads of fun on Mount Washington this summer with the big DH bikes, but we’re both probably going to stick to the trail bikes for the local rides from now on.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…