Join Date: May 2000
Location: Edmond Oklahoma
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I'm a newb to XC bikes and I just returned from New Mexico where I put my Soma Double Cross through some testing. I've ridden the bike for about 3 months solely as a morning trainer, this was the first time off road. I first tested the bike on a State Hiway that has a nine mile section of dirt, and is actually a "primitive" road. That means that there is no actual built-up roadbed, it's just a road over the ground. I think it is occasionally graded, but it hadn't been in awhile judging by the condition. The bike performed flawlessly, it was a blast as I gained some confidence and skills dodging rocks and ruts.
On the next outing, I did a 90 mile loop with 20 miles of primitive road. Some of the road was packed sand, some loose, lotsa ruts, and many short rocky sections, also with ruts. Again, the bike was a blast and performed well.
On my 3rd outing, I rode up a Nat'l Forest road. This was actually less than primitive, with some really steep rocky sections, one of which I had to portage. The combination of football and basketball size rocks with my 34/25 gearing was just a little too much for me. I rode for about 8 miles up on this road and climbed from 8,500' to over 10,500', then I rode down. I also tried a little single track, and with my improved skills, I was able to ride that with little difficulty.
On my 4th outing, I decided to try a trail that is partially rated expert. The first part is a 700' climb in about a mile and a quarter, maybe a mile and a half. I had to walk/portage several sections, I just had the wrong gearing. The loop was about 8 to 10 miles with a total elevation gain of about 1500'. I'd estimate that I had to portage about 1/2 mile total. The last part of the trail about 1 mile) is old logging road (double track) and was pretty easy especially considering that I was going downhill or flat for most of that.
I rarely mtn bike and it has been several years since the last time. I learned a couple things on the CX bike. I definitely need to get a 12/27 or 12/28 cassette. That alone would open up some sections that I stalled out on. I am also thinking that I could use some of those auxiliary brake levers up on the flats. Riding downhill for long sections in the drops is hard on the shoulders and arms, and makes proper weight distribution a problem too. I was riding on Ritchey Aero wheels and Ritchey Speed Max 700/32 clinchers. A larger tire may have been to my advantage also. All in all, it was definitely fun and the bike was more versatile better than I expected. I'm looking forward to more off road adventures.