I bought my Salsa Mamasita in 2009. I loved that bike from the very first test ride, and in spite of us having some absolutely smashing rides, I’ve resented it ever since.
Chubbs says it’s all in the hips; I contend it’s all in the hoops.
The Mama I rode on those first few rides wore a pair of Salsa Delgado Race 29er rims; near as I can tell those were in the 455g range per hoop. I didn’t know that level of specificity at the time, but I did know that they spun up sweetly. I could tell the minute I got that bike out of the driveway; the way it just seemed to accelerate. It felt like I wasn’t putting in more than I was getting back. That shit put a smile on my face. It’s a big reason why I ended up buying the bike.
But the wheels had issues; nothing tragic, just irritating. One or both of them had some minor hops, and the seller (also a shop owner) agreed to have them trued. After a painful amount of waiting (weeks), some determination was made that the hops could not be cured, and he offered to rebuild the wheels altogether. Sounded like a good plan to me. I let him go about the task and picked them up some amount of time (weeks) later.
My first ride on those wheels was rather unforgettable.
These did not feel like they did before. They were a chore. Laced to the same White Industries hubs, the rims looked pretty much the same – what the hell was going on? Why do these feel like riding through quicksand now?
It seems someone made a decision to use Salsa Semi rims for the rebuild. While they looked similar to the Delgados, they ring in at 570g. We’re talking a quarter pound difference per wheel, at a point on a wheel where weight is the most perceptible. Certainly to me anyway. I knew immediately something was off, and now I was stuck with it. That was my mentality anyway. It had been such a battle just getting the wheels taken care of in the first place, I just wanted to ride.
So I did; for years I rode them, but I never really had that feeling of euphoria again. Every now and then when I hop on, I still disappoint myself when the bike doesn’t take off like it did that day in March. That sounds a little insane, but I remember what that was like, even three years later. That day was like the rebirth of mountain biking for me, and it’s a fairly permanent memory.
Probably two seasons ago now, I cut the rear shifter cable and ran the bike singlespeed. That was some serious shit. There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get from killing something you didn’t think you could on one gear. It’s a whole other experience, building up momentum and just leveling climbs because you have to. Last year, I found the Mama’s magic gear, and at this point I’ve got the hub spaced out with a bulletproof 32×19 setup. I’ve tried, and I can’t throw it. This is good. I could race this.
But not with these wheels. I don’t want to. If we’re going to do this, I want my old bike back.
So I’m collaborating with Jon at Revolution Wheelworks. He’s cooking me up something off-menu that’s more than worthy. In a few weeks, hopefully I’ll be able to show them to you.
Something I tend to do a lot with this kind of stuff is just suffer along. Just deal with things that bug me, and then seasons pass and nothing changes. If you have the means to change it, what a waste of time. None of us are guaranteed anything; a lot of people will say “someday I’ll do this, someday I’ll do that” but no one really knows what the hell that really means. It’s a pacification mechanism used to rationalize complacency. Fuck that shit. You could cross the street an hour from now and get clipped by some airhead on cellphone and never ride a bike again. How’s your someday looking now? You have to enjoy this stuff while you can. Whatever it takes to get you there.