Unreal 650b First Ride
The anticipation was killing me. I had ordered the custom built 650b Unreal bike almost 6 weeks ago, but with the logistics of obtaining parts and other minor hiccups, I had to be patient. It ended up being quite appropriate that my first ride on the bike happened to fall on Christmas day. A gift to myself, sure, but I hadn’t yet known the awesome gift I’d given myself, until the first ride…
Kjell and I decided to ride on the edge of Badlands, in a place called Horse Buttes. The trails out there are some of the few that remain open during the winter season here in Central Oregon. Luckily, it was close to home and with some research the day before, we’d mapped out a nice 10 mile loop to explore. The loop kept us mainly exposed to the high desert sky with long range views, low grade climbs/descents and was perfect for bedding in the brakes, getting the muscles working after my long break from riding, and apparently “training” my sit bones.
Now, I’m not new to riding per-say, I’ve ridden bikes since a wee girl and well through my teens, along with a long stint of commuting solely on bike for 7 straight years while living in Portland. But, you could say I’m fairly new to mountain biking. Once I decided a few years back that I wanted to merge my love of riding with my love of the outdoors, Kjell found a great deal on a full suspension Rocky Mountain Edge thru Craigslist for me, so I bought it, and he immediately began schooling me.
However, this Unreal 650b is a gigantic step up from the Edge. Once at the trailhead, Kjell unloaded my bike first so I was able to circle the parking lot in anticipation for the first ride to begin. It was like a mating dance, the bike and I were just starting to get to know each other. I would click through the gears, try to pop wheelies and flip my suspension levers to really understand how it all worked before setting out. This moment was sweet and exciting, yet a bit melancholy because I knew that after this ride, the bike would never be the same. I had spent a few days just marveling at it in my living room, all shiny, perfect and new…not a scratch or speck of dirt on it yet. But I didn’t buy the darn bike just to look at it!!! So I snapped back into reality, set the gears to my liking, and by this time, Kjell was ready to go.
My first observations were due to the frame, pedals, shifting, grips and saddle. All mainly from the ultimate vast upgrade in bike-age. The frame fit great and I wasn’t hunched over as much anymore, I had wider pedals now that actually gripped my soles of my shoes, changing gears was seamless and the shifters were more conveniently located, grips were smaller and fit my grip better, and the saddle…. ohhh.. well the saddle….
About 3/4’s through the ride, my sit bones hurt. It was like I was sitting on a 2×4, or perhaps a 2×8.. haha. Apparently it does’t matter how much “padding” you naturally bring to the table, or seat I should say…because it just hurt to sit anymore. It made me think of the 24 hour race that I’d witnessed the boys do recently, knowing that just one lap of that race was twice as long as what I’d done thus far and how I wouldn’t last 4 of the 24 hrs as is for sure! Kjell said my sit bones needed “training”. What I was thinking I needed was a huge comfy cruiser seat, lol. Considering that we’re planning a week long bike-packing trip in September that will take us from Klamath Falls to Bend, where we’ll need to make approx. 50 miles a day… I realized I needed to giddy-up on this “sit bone training”…..but anyways..
Let me back-up a little, within the first few miles my second observation was how light the bike was- Can I Get A HALLELUJAH?! Climbing just doesn’t suck as bad anymore!! My goodness…now that is how climbing SHOULD be..as painless as possible;) And the best part about that is, I hadn’t yet mastered how to use all the options I had on my suspension systems at the time, so I’m pretty sure that climbing will be even even easier!! Heck.Yes.
The third thing I noticed was the slightly larger tires I had and how they changed my cornering. At first I thought, “this is tougher”, but then quickly retracted the statement as I suddenly was able to blast through rocks and roots much easier compared to the choppiness of my previous 26 inch wheels.
Soon thereafter during the fun flowing cross-country shallow descents,I finally started to appropriately use my suspension systems, and even with those small and simple descents, I coulMy 1st Unreal 650b bike ride:d really tell the quality of my components and pure awesomeness I just invested in. I started to feel like I was a gangster but on two wheels…you know those kind with the trick hydraulics that are activated with just a touch of a button? If not, just know that the experiences with this bike was just one good thing after another…
About 5 or 6 miles in, I was starting to feel a tiny bit shaky and decided to refuel (told you I was out of shape!). I shared my snack with Kjell, (the grape flavored fruit rope he had so desired the night before), and he took the time to take a few pics with his GoPro Hero 2..
During the return side of the loop, we saw the sign for Boyd Cave and there was no such discussion as to if we’d go see it, we were already on our way. It only took us a short 1/4 mile off the beaten loop and once there, within a minute and a half, we were back on track. We reminisced our future plan to visit the cave with different equipment and circumstances while returning to the trail. By this time, my endurance was running out and my tush was getting sore. Luckily we were on the downside for the most part and I was really starting to jell with my bike. I started noticing the slight adjustments I’d like to make here and there and began using all the controls like a boss. By the time we reached the car, I felt like I just got started…avoiding the fact that my body had it’s work out, I wanted more riding time with this awesome Unreal bike.
Thank you again Unreal Cycles!
P.S. A shammy has been bought;)