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You know you had a decent ride on Saturday if you can still feel it in the body as you haul it out of bed on Tuesday morning.

Last Saturday was a vast empty space with decent weather, word of a new trail out back of beyond, and no definite time-constraints except sundown.

The bike was in the bike shop, so the ride started there.

The bike shop: you must have one. If you are lucky, its agood one. The nice thing about this one is that the proprietors are on point. If there is a new thing that might be good for riding off road, they are on it, even if only briefly to work out if it is really good or not. The stuff they figure out trickles down to their customers, and while work will be done on most things that get wheeled in their door, most of the bikes kicking around are versions of what the shop guys ride, with a similar selection of bits and general setup.

Running a single chainring has been the way of life around here for years now, and the industry has caught up by providing eleven speed cogsets out back, finished with a giant sprocket as big as brake disk for climbing steep things. Holdouts on ten speed setups (like me) can have a giant cog shoehorned onto their bike, and that was done some months ago to revisit an expedition into the Whirinaki wilderness that all agreed would probably kill me if attempted without it.

Fitting the XXXL cog dictated removing the 17 cog, a thing we judged to be as much use to me as my appendix. It lived down the little end of the cogset, in a place I thought was never visited by my chain. That assumption turned out to be false. We created a bike that can climb a lamp-post, and can hold its own going down a mineshaft, but it had a speed missing, and that turned out to be the ideal one for cruising along a fire-road at a comfortable spin.

That brings us to the other great thing about this bike shop: one of the owners doesn't drink. That means that when ingrates like me take the opportunity to complain about the missing ratio at a party, he has the mental capacity to nut out a solution, and then even better, to remember it later.

He called midweek to say he had reconfigured some parts with a file, and I could deliver my sled for a rearrangement of cogs that would take 10 minutes and solve my problem. I developed some other problems before I could do that, so the bike overnighted in the shop.

I collected it Saturday morning, and it was exactly as Mike said it would be. Slightly hotrodded and with a smooth complement of ratios that allow a good cadence at every speed likely to be required.

Including incredibly slow, which is what I was doing nearly 5 hours later.




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