I am on a perpetual quest to find the most effective way of moving through the landscape. Speed, efficiency and safety are key words. But, as I reach middle age, I realize that in order to carry on doing so effectively, I also need to be thinking about Comfort.
I had recently moved back up north, after 10 years of living in cities in the South. My fully rigid hardtail had served me well growing up, and laterally on the tarmac of London. But on my return to the local Peak District Trail of my youth, it was glaringly obvious that I was now too old to be riding a rigid hardtail without getting an absolute beating. Post ride, my forearms hurt like hell, my teeth were still clattering in my mouth and my lower back felt like it had been stamped on repeatedly. Furthermore, the speed i’d had growing up on this trail was lost.
So I set out on a mission. After 2 years of overtime, planning and dreaming, I was stood in front of a cross country full suspension trail rocket ship. The sublimely beautiful Yeti ASR-SL looked fast just standing still.
I could have tested that bike for the first time anywhere in the world. From its roots amongst the Colorado singletrack, to the local routes where I live in Yorkshire. But no, I knew exactly where that first ride would have to take place – my favourite trail where I grew up, 45 miles south into the Peak District. Only there could I truly know how fast and comfortable the bike was.
Clipped into the Yeti, I immediately shaved minutes off my fastest ever loop. For the first time I really understood what ‘getting your flow’ meant. Over subsequent months this time has reduced even further, as I’ve mastered the art of using the suspension to float through the obstacles on the trail. Equally importantly, the ride was so much more comfortable that I didn’t feel beaten up afterwards when I finished the route.
Comfort doesn’t have to mean arm chair like saddles on springs, or comfortable slippers. Comfort can also be about maximizing performance, brought on by super efficient suspension design. The two are inextricably linked.
But when I think about comfort, do you know what I really want? I want a comfortable mountain bike with enough travel, efficiency, and clever gearing ratios that allows my 71 year old father to race me on the ups and the downs of our trail. I want a suit of body armour, befitting of Achilles, that is light and strong enough so that we feel no injury when we fall, other than the very minute Achilles heel that allows us to remember that we are guests in this landscape, not masters.
This perpetual quest to find the most effective way of moving through the landscape follows a circle. Once I have achieved the maximum speed, efficiency, safety and comfort possible with the tools I have, then I need to go back to the beginning if I want to carry on improving. There is a new quest that I am now working on. It follows this simple mantra: ‘I can go even faster!’ How? by adding improved Confidence to the equation. I have tested the solution. It is called a Yeti 575, and the saving starts now.