So a few weeks ago, I sold the Prophet. I bought it in ’07 and definitely gave it a chance, and the first year things were fine, but as time wore on I just wasn’t having a good time on it. It was fun every now and then, but it was heavy and generally a chore to ride. Like my previous Cannondale, I felt like it was trying to kill me like, so parting with it wasn’t too difficult.

A hardtail had to be the answer. It had to be. At this point, I hated mountain biking. A far cry from when I was 10 and would spend weeks blazing trails through the woods just to be able to ride off road. Far removed from the hot summer days training solo at Kingman Farm and taking elevators to the top of dormitories just to ride the stairs all the way to the basement. Now mountain biking felt like riding shotgun on the highway with a drunk driver, usually ending with me owing Elliot Hospital about a thousand bucks.

Only once – once did I ever ride a bike with a sense of real control. The year I rode Grampie’s Fisher, in between the time I decommissioned the Super V and the time I bought the Prophet. Somehow I had to get back to that place.

Through a matter of strange-but-not-really circumstance I happened to connect with a local shop owner who let me demo a Salsa Mamasita. Pimped out to the point where it almost makes you nervous. Wow. Period.

I picked it up on Saturday, got it home, and within one minute of bolting the front wheel back on I had a feeling about this bike. I spent a few seconds on it to make sure it was mechanically okay, then put it in the garage where I thought about it for pretty much every other minute for the duration of the day and into the night.

Sunday morning at 8am, I got up and instinctively got my riding shit together. What? What the hell is this? I couldn’t even control it; I was on auto-pilot. I was going to take the Mamasita out this morning. Locally. You have to be kidding. I absolutely hate riding around here. And it isn’t even 30 degrees out right now. What is happening.

I roar down the road, purposefully spinning toward Derryfield Park. I am motoring. I warmup with a climb up the field, things are feeling good, and I head up the McIntyre cross country trail. To my surprise, it’s mostly bare, and off I go. This thing is large and in charge. I keep saying that to myself. And not large in a bad way. I have absolutely no idea I’m riding a 29er. That is to say, I have no awareness that I’m riding a bigger bike than usual. This is definitely getting better. Toward the top of the ski hill we go.

I reach the groomed ski slope of McIntyre, and I walk out onto the snow. The skiiers are still in bed, so the hill is all mine right now. It’s quiet, almost surreal. I make a short walk up to the top and tool around a bit to see how this thing does on the frozen stuff. I expect sketchy and I don’t get it. Not bad, not bad. I spend a few more minutes in the woods to feel out its downhill and technical prowess, and then I return to the top of the ski hill.

Still no one in sight, I figure this has to be done. These brakes will stop anything. Slowly down the slope I go, carefully evaluating traction, stopping every hundred feet or so to bunny hop on the granular hardpack. What a morning. There’s no way I can give this bike back. I resolve somewhere around the bottom of the ski hill that no matter how much this thing costs, I will figure out a way to make it work. I have to.

After another half hour of tearing around the perimeter of Doors Pond, I returned home, everything intact, still quelling a bit of excitement. And on Monday, I made the call, and on Monday, we made a deal. It’ll cost me what I made on the Prophet, plus a little bit of what Uncle Sam threw back this year. Completely worth it. I can hardly believe it. I can’t wait to ride this thing everywhere. This – this is it. Now we’re back in business. This kicks ass. And for the first time since I was a kid, I have a hardtail again. And for the first time since I was a kid, I feel like a kid.

And I have better insurance this year. Just in case. cp

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