Because I hate being able to access both my shock bolts at the same time. Also see: mud.
The designers are pairing a 170mm fork with 150mm of rear travel, because having 20mm more travel up front on a long travel application makes sense in some strange bizarro parallel universe, a universe I like to call "Germany."
When you have a stiff, minimal amount of suspension design in the rear, you want a big mushy pogo stick up front. Sort of like walking with one foot in one of these:
And the other in one of these:
Typically when I see a big disparity between front and rear wheel travel on a trail bike, my go-to assumption is that the marketing guy and product manager are trying to work around some awful shortcoming that engineering blessed them with, such as
an out-of-date head angle that's way too steep
a sad excuse for lazy engineering like "with these big wheels we can either have a reasonable chainstay length or long travel, but not both,"
or just a stubborn insistence that "XYZ amount of travel is enough for this application" even though XYZ amount of travel is clearly not enough travel for this application
When faced with any of the above problems, a marketing guy or product manager can easily turn a medium-ish travel bike designed for your average consumer into a "long travel bruiser for trail crushers" by just sticking a longer fork on it. In case you think I'm making this up:
Medium-ish travel bike designed for your average consumer.
"Long travel bruiser for trail crushers." And the people loved it.
This just cements my view of Ghost Bikes as a purveyor of high quality, well-thought out bikes with simple but time-tested suspension designs, like their downhill bike for Team RRP Ghost:
Translation: "I couldn't get paid as much in MX, and this downhill thing is easier too. Yeah I have to ride this shit bike, but try going to the U.S. and racing the AMA's. Have you seen Barcia or Roczen on track? It's a joke, all those guys in the states are savage. I can bang out wins in these local German downhill races all day long and that's money money money in the bank."
Morgan Taylor is once again trying to appropriate the wisdom of "the hardmen and minimalists" so he can synthesize it and spoon feed it to the average Joe, or in this case his girlfriend and slow old people. This time he's trying to convince everyone who still has a front derailleur that they'll totally be happier without it:
Someone needs to tell Morgan that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Anyone who's still running a front derailleur is either:
A grainy old XC dude who legitimately needs more gears for his casual 100 mile rides.
Someone who sucks at going downhill and(or) thinks he's going "as fast as you can go."
So stuck in his rut that he religiously buys Miller Lite over Coors Light because he honestly believes "it has a smoother finish."
All three of the above people in one being; the "unholy trinity" if you will. You might know this person as "Your uncle," "that one guy that always comes into the shop," or "Tinker Juarez."
None of those 4 types of people could possibly give a shit about Morgan Taylor's gear-inch calculations
But first a little background into where little ROBOTs come from. I started riding because of this:
Then I started doing this:
Now I also do a lot of this:
Between dirt jumping and downhill, front derailleurs were never an option. Around 2012 when I was building up my first trail bike I called Lars Sternberg and asked if I'd be happy with a front derailleur. He said "No," and I haven't run a front derailleur since. When I meet people who still choose to run a front derailleur this is what I think about:
And when I hear people like Morgan Taylor talk about 28 tooth single rings this is what I think about:
And another thing. If you're running any of these setups:
A 28-32 tooth chainring
A 10-42 cassette with anything less than a 38 tooth front cog
Any sort of "one-up" 40 or 42 tooth cassette abomination
Nothing you do can ever be referred to as "grinding" "pushing" or "turning over a hard gear." It's called "pedaling."
If somebody still knowingly chooses to run a front derailleur, your little graphs and calculations aren't going to change their mind, Morgan. That's like trying to bring actual medical research into a discussion about gluten. Ain't nobody got time for that shit.
"Charlie, just because it's not racing, don't make fun. What Brett Rheeder and Semenuk did in their final runs was almost impossible. You can't even imagine how hard it is. It's really impressive."
Yeah, for sure, no argument there. But you're a liar if you tell me that the stuff those aerobic athletes pull in that video is any less mind-blowing. I dare you to try the dual arm spins at 0:40 in the video and NOT tear your rotator cuff in half. Try those fast steps at 1:02. That's easily as hard as a flat spin 720 off the final whale tail at Crankworx. At least Semenuk had a whole run to warm up to that, he even busted one out halfway down his run. Homie with the fast steps went from zero to a thousand in a split second. Do you know how much stretching and warm up it takes to pull that stuff off? It takes a lifetime to prepare for something like that. I bet you it was straight carnage at the 1987 Crystal Light Aerobic Championship, with hamstrings and ACL's blowing out like candles. Dudes getting carted off on backboards or carried off the field of battle by their fellow aerobic athletes.
The lyrics tell you everything you need to know. Like the sunshine, they are the champions.
If that wasn't enough, a bunch of the Kiwi's and JAFA's tried to hold an unofficial whip-off on Crabapple Tuesday afternoon. If you remember your history all the way back to three years ago, that's the way the "official" whip-off got started, with a bunch of assholes hiking runs on crabapple and some buddy of theirs' keeping score. The suits got wind of the plan this year (facebook is not your friend, kids), and it was game over. The suits shut down the mini-event, and closed crabapple for the rest of the day. Yeah, they just closed Crabapple. No big deal. You know, Crabapple Hits? Maybe you've heard of them, those jumps that are, like, half the reason I go to Whistler?
I really liked hearing about the Winter Park race last week, because it seemed like everyone legitimately hated the tracks there. All of the coverage was saturated with complaints about the cross country courses that passed off as EWS race stages, and even this week talking to racers I haven't heard one positive thing about Winter Park. Everyone hated it, and for me, that's great to hear. I hate riding my bike about 90% of the time, due to a mix of hating the trails I'm riding, hating my bike for whatever reason, and most often due to hating myself, so hearing people get down on the Winter Park tracks was right in my wheelhouse. It's the way the world is supposed to work. Everyone being pissed off and complaining feels a lot like downhill racing, which is the spiritual center of my bike world.
This weekend we're up here in Whistler, and apparently everyone got together and had a meeting that I wasn't invited to, where everyone agreed that no one was allowed to complain about the amount of climbing in the course, and everyone was required to use the words "steep," "technical," and "gnarly" to describe the stages. Fair enough, each of the stages had some steep, gnarly, and technical bits in them. But what no one in the entire world was allowed to mention was the fact that each of the courses had mega flat zero MPH rooty 90-degree-corner-laden old school techincal XC tracks in the middle of them... really long mega flat zero MPH rooty 90-degree-corner-laden old school techincal XC tracks.
Of the fifty some-odd minutes of racing, a solid 10 minutes of it was spent doing a mix of:
Pedaling flat or uphill gravel
Going half a mile per hour muscling the bike over flat or uphill roots and rocks laden with 90 degree corners
Climbing uphill out of a creek crossing
Pedaling through a completely straight, completely flat pile of rocks.
And nobody is talking about this. In all of the coverage you will see exactly zero photos, videos, or mention of all the flat or uphill pedalling on the stages, but if you were to watch a GoPro run of these stages you would fall asleep at your screen trying to watch the mind numbing pedaling sections in each of them. All weekend I was wondering if the horrible flat crummy zero MPH pedaling sections are par for the course at these EWS things, or if everyone just agreed not to talk about it.
It was like the enduro media gods got together after Winter Park and decided that the storyline going forward was "Winter Park sucked and didn't qualify as 'real' enduro racing, but Whistler is different and represents what 'real' Enduro is supposed to be." Any storyline that didn't agree with that assessment was unholy and must be killed with fire. And by "enduro media gods" I pretty much mean Matt Wragg. And with that all objectivity went out the window. The marching orders were "no matter what happens in Whistler, tell everyone it's awesome."
If you complained about the 7000-8000 feet of transfer climbing, it's because you were a pussy. If you complained about the race trails, it's because you were a pussy. If you complained about being tired, it's because you were a pussy. If you complained about anything, it's because you're a pussy.
Just to get the facts straight, I am a gigantic pussy, no denying that. Anyone who knows me can verify that. But the reason I'm complaining about the Whistler EWS isn't because I'm a pussy. It's because it sucked.
After three days of practice, this was my breakdown of the five stages of the Whistler EWS:
Have you ever gone through a season of drought, when you didn't see a single legitimately hot chick for months? Crazy things happen inside your brain during a drought like that. You start going through the five stages of grief: shock, denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance. Your brain starts playing tricks on you and you start questioning everything in the past. Were all those hot chicks just a figment of my imagination? Did I make them up? Or were they maybe not as hot as I remembered? Maybe I'm just being nostalgic. Maybe I have different tastes now? Then you start rationalizing and justifying the fives and sixes around you, and you start thinking they're maybe eights or nines. Sure, they're not tens, let's be reasonable. But maybe they're nines. They could be a nine, right?
Then, after months of pain, anguish, and confusion, you finally see a legitimately hot chick and everything snaps back into place. No brain, those fives weren't nines. They were fives.
Saturday morning I watched the Windham World Cup live stream, and everything snapped back into place. The world was as it should be again. The mental fog passed, and it was all clear to me. Trails don't have to suck. They don't have to be slow and awkward. Trail builders don't have to kill speed constantly. Bikes were meant to roll, not crawl.
I've created this graph to help illustrate why the Whistler Enduro course was less than I'd hoped:
I just don't understand what this race was about. All weekend long when people asked me what I thought of the race, I told them I didn't understand. I didn't understand why the course builders wanted it to be such a long day. I didn't understand why each stage needed to be so pedally and flat and slow, even after us racers finished climbing so many hills. I didn't understand what they were trying to accomplish with the course routing and all the climbing. And nothing was as hard or as gnarly as you diehard Whistler locals and various MTB media types made it sound.
The courses were super abusive, so I needed a big heavy bike with big heavy tires. But I also needed to climb 8000 feet on that same bike, and basically race a cross country race down the five race stages as well. I needed to wear a full face helmet according to the rules, but I also needed to wear a helmet in the 90 degree heat according to BC law. I needed to eat about 3000 calories and drink 12 bottles of water over the eight hours of "racing" and crawling up gravel roads, but according to the rules I needed to carry all of my own food, water, and tools on my person. If I stashed food, stopped by my car, or visited a store I would be disqualified.
Those conflicting interests put me on a 35 pound bike with front and rear downhill tires, carrying two helmets and a hot, sweaty bag on my back that weighed about 10 or so pounds. For eight hours. Oh, and by the way I'm supposed to race what amounts to a really technical XC course like that. But I'm supposed to think that it was awesome and super fun, because I don't want anyone to think I'm a pussy.
One of the oddest moments was during the Friday riders meeting, when one of the Crankworx event promoters recoiled at the thought of someone hiking up to the top of a stage. In his words the transfer times were chosen "so that we didn't see top guys hiking to the top again," as if our life-risking and lung bursting efforts on the way down the hill weren't enough to soothe this guy's insecurities about the enduro discipline, we had to prove how hard we were on the way up, too, on chunky 20% pitch gravel roads. Because if someone takes a moment to collect themselves before racing blind for 15 minutes down death chutes and blown out corners, that's not 'real enough.'
If we'd taken a lift to the top of every stage, yesterday still would have been one of the hardest races I've ever done.
Why did we have to suffer so much yesterday? Plain and simple, we were there to appease the enduro gods. Everyone secretly knows that enduro kind of sucks, that it's the shorter, more boring, less attractive younger sister of downhill racing, but no one is allowed to say that, because that might hurt her feelings. The more people try to talk around the obvious and defend enduro racing and the EWS, the more they confirm our suspicions. We call this behavior "Short Man Syndrome," or "Ugly-Sister-Turned-Feminist Complex." I like to call it "All of My Fellow Students at Lewis and Clark College Disorder." I'm not even saying enduro racing is bad, or lame, or easy. That would ridiculous and unsubstantiated. I'm just saying that it's obviously not as cool as downhill.
Our suffering yesterday was some form of penance to the enduro gods to prove that enduro racing is different, and thus better, than downhill racing. Sure it's not as fast, thrilling, technical, exciting, or media friendly, but at least it can be physically harder. So the enduro gods decided that we must suffer to validate their new sport.
Being an ex-pro washed up downhill racer turned Enduro industry leach, I didn't start doing really long rides until I was supposed to for "training" purposes.
This Whistler EWS is going to kill me. They just released the course maps and numbers, and at 36 miles and almost 8000 feet of climbing, keep your eyes peeled in the coverage for me and other lazy ex-downhill guys to be laid out dying on the side of the road.
Hey, at least the Whistler valley climbs aren't that steep, right?