Saturday, November 19, 2016

Minus Ten Review- 46

Can you believe this was Ingawanis Woodlands?
Ten years ago on the blog I wrote about my experience at what is now Ingawanis Woodlands with Mike Reimer and Jason Boucher then both of Salsa Cycles. I wrote last week that it was the "second big honor" of that week back then. It was only second because of the time when it occurred, not because it was in some way less than the other thing.

Anyway, check out this image. Those of you who now ride Ingawanis Woodlands may not recognize this at all. This was a service road that ran near to the perimeter of the parcel of land which then was known as the South Side of Camp Ingawanis, and before that, it was the Girl Scouts of America camp portion of Camp Ingawanis.

All that is left of this service road is a portion that runs straight back off of the gravel road to the South end of the property. However; ten years ago, the trails crossed this road at four different points along the way. If you really pay attention, you can see where this was yet today. However; I am willing to bet that unless you've been riding there since before the big logging days, you won't know about this road, which is now choked off with underbrush.

Speaking of the "big logging days", when a company came in and took tons of trees out of both sides of Ingawanis, you also probably didn't get to ride out there when the canopy of trees was such that you were in darkness nearly 2/3rds of the time you were riding out there. I can remember one particular ride when I was out there riding as it was raining. The tree cover was so thick that I never got wet, and the trail, for the most part, stayed completely dry. You couldn't get that ride in today. You'd get soaked. So many trees were logged off, and others lost in various wind storms since then.

The '07 Mamasita from Salsa Cycles.
So, back to that ride ten years ago. That was the day that a lucky few of us got to experience the Mamasita. This was the end of what I would call the first generation of 29"er geometry and development. It was the extreme example of the cycling industries use of then current day technology in an effort to get 29"ers to "handle like 26"ers.

For instance, it was understood that the trail measurement of the front end of 29"ers needed to be "shorter" in order to get "quicker" (unstable) handling like 26"ers had. The only way to do that in 2006 was to steepen the head angle of the frame. Fork offset was "frozen" by years of dogged adherence to "NORBA geometry" for 26"ers at 38mm. Every fork manufacturer used this offset. There were no other choices. So, Salsa decided to steepen the head angle to compensate on the first Mamsitas to a whopping 73° degrees! It worked in one way. However; it made it so that the Reba suspension fork wanted to bend backward, instead of slide on its bushings and compress. The head angle was too steep.

Trek/Gary Fisher working with Fox effectively ended this nonsense the following year when the first Fox 29"er forks came out with a generous 51mm of offset for 29"ers and 46mm of offset for 26'ers. The fork crown forgings now existed to give designers more ways to utilize a better combination of offset, head angle, and wheel size to give us the "slack/long" geometries we see today on trail bikes. 29"ers brought this to reality.

That was quite a ride back in '06, and looking back on it, it was first and foremost a beginning of new friendships. It was secondly a moment in mountain biking history that I got to taste and see. Thirdly, it marked the beginnings of the riding in Ingawanis Woodlands on a regular basis and was a time that cannot again be repeated due to the changes out there.

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