We arrived at Fantasy Island trailhead a little before 8 am on Saturday morning to try some Yeti bikes for free. We rode for about an hour and when we came back to bring the bikes, we found out that another company (Niner) was there for a bike demo too. After riding the Santa Cruz bikes last week and the Yeti bikes this week, I felt that the problem with my lack of control on my bike was not a bike problem, but a rider problem.
As much as I liked these very expensive bike, they didn't make me feel like a more confident rider. I really liked the 27.5 wheels, the carbon frames, high-end double suspension and other components, but it was not that different from my bike. I am still pretty much a beginner rider. I really started mountain biking 3 years ago in Moab and haven't consistently mountain biked since. I have never felt fully in control on my bike, still struggle with sharp turns and fall a little too much... but even if JF kept telling me that my bike was probably too small for me (it's a 2012 XS Giant Trance XW) and that the geometry was probably not made for me, I kept thinking I was the problem (just like we tell people that want a "camera that makes good pictures" that it's not the camera, but the person behind it...).
So here I am, sweaty in my bike gear, standing by the Niner bikes' van with Mathilde. The 3 reps are busy talking with one guy. I look at them and wait. A good 5 minutes. They do not pay any attention to us. I give them the killer stare (the killer stare is a family specialty, my dad is the master; I am only the pupil...). To no avail. JF walks by and I ask him to come stand by us. 30 seconds later, a rep ask him if he wants to try a bike. You could see the steam coming out of my ears (and it was NOT from the heat). You see, as a small woman, I am used to being ignored, to not be seen, but it still triggers me incredibly. I remember having that epiphany, at 10, standing among a bunch of people in an ice cream parlor, holding my 2 dollar bill neatly folded in my hand. Waiting. But the two persons making the cones were never paying attention to me, they kept making eye contact with the other (taller) people around me. I turned around and left and went to get my dad who was waiting for me in the car. As soon as he walked in, we got served. So Saturday morning, I couldn't be that person for my 10 yo girl. Because I am short. And because I am a woman. Good thing I am not a young hot head anymore, because I would have turned around and left... and would never have ridden the bike that changed it all.
You see, Niner, as their name suggests only makes 29 inch wheel bikes. As you might or might not know, 29 inch wheels have been the thing for the last few years (instead of the standard 26 inch wheels) and now, many companies started making 27.5 inches. The thing is, most people told me that 29ers are not for small persons, so they were not on my radar, but Niner only makes a few models of 29 inch bikes. Or as the rep condescendly told me when I brought the bike back: contrary to the other brands, we make the wheels and adapt the frames to our wheels, that's why the XS and S bikes feel so right even with such big wheels.
I could not stop smiling the whole ride! I could ride everything and felt completely in control. I could climb hills like never before and had a BLAST. It was like nothing I had experienced before... And now, I want that bike. No, I *need* that bike to feel safe and in control. Mmmm... Now, I get why they do these demos. When you make something really well, you don't need to spend much in marketing: you just get people to try your product. They'll be convinced. Too bad I can't afford it...
We are spending our last week in Tucson (after more than 2 months!) with the Liske family. Saturday night, Antonio invited us all at his place for a last dinner. He prepared a feast of delicious homemade tacos that we ate outside. As always, it's bittersweet to leave a place that has been home for a few months and especially people that you love. The good thing is that we will likely be back next year!