Saturday, March 30, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-13

The Fargo Gen 1 and an old derelict windmill on Quarry Road
Ten years ago on the blog I was talking about windy, early Spring rides. Sound familiar? Yep! Still doing this, ten years down the road. Amazing to think that I have been into riding gravel for more than ten years now.....

Well, the story of this windmill is interesting. I remember coming across it first when I was gravel grinding South on Ansborough Avenue back around 2006 or so. It was actually a working windmill at that time. I recall one foggy Fall ride on the Karate Monkey single speed where I heard this mournful groan, echoey, and far off. It sounded spooky, actually, and as I rode Southward it got more pronounced. I realized after I approached Quarry Road that it was that old windmill, groaning on its bearings in the winds of Fall. I'll never forget that.

Then one day the next Spring I saw that the vanes were all torn off. No doubt the bearings seized up in some Winter storm and the wind just tore off the old vanes and that was the end of that. I found the old windmill still standing in 2009, but not long after this, it disappeared and the vestiges of another homestead disappeared forever. I know a lot of places that are like this. Places that once told of families, of struggles and life on the farm, that are gone forever. It's hard not to feel something tug at you when you ride in the countryside and you see the decay and eventual disappearance of things like this.

I always thought it was strange when my grandpa used to drive around the country with his second wife and I. They used to go back and forth about the folks that lived on various farms we would pass. Between the two of them, they knew the history going back into the 19th Century. Once in awhile they would point at an open field and recount the families that had once lived on farms long since gone. I thought they were a special kind of crazy. That is until I started riding in the country. There are ghosts out there, whether I know them or not.......

A Salsa Big Mama- Look at that impossibly steep head angle!
Ten years ago I also got to try out a Salsa Cycles Big Mama. I really, really enjoyed that bike, but by today's standards it is a dud. The steep head angle, long chain stays, and short-ish front center would be considered a laughingstock today.

Yet this bike provided me with many an awesome ride in the North side of the Boy Scout Camp, and at Cedar Bend. It was so awesome I thought it would be a killer Texas rig, and when I took it there I expected to slay Franklin Mountain with ease. Unfortunately, it bit me. I went head over heels on a bedrock downhill and smashed my knee wide open on a sharp rock. It was then that I saw what was wrong with this bike and why it wasn't going to be a long term solution for me as far as mountain biking. That head angle! Wow!

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the Big Mama was the best graphic design and color package for a bike Salsa Cycles has ever done since the Ross Schafer era. The new Warroad in the top of the range comes close, but this Big Mama scheme was so good it stands up to scrutiny ten years down the road.

I still have this frame in the bowels of the Guitar Ted Laboratories and I look at it once in awhile and smile. Maybe some day I'll replicate this scheme on the old Gen I Fargo........


rth009 said...

I bought a Big Mama in December of 2009. It was my first 29er, first full suspension, and first of several Salsas. I had the XT version that I got on closeout online. It was a great ride, especially once I replaced the Race Face deus cranks with XT and stopped the chain suck. I, too, loved the paint job. Way cool. I rode the shit out of that thing until the chainstay cracked in August of 2011. Salsa gave me a credit towards a 2011 El Mariachi Ti, which I still have to this day.

MG said...

I have fond memories of my Big Mama. Yeah, the headtube angle was steep, but everything was still pretty steep in 2009. The suspension, for as simple as it was, worked well, and the color package would still be cool today, as you noted. It was a good first effort for a 29" dually.