Some other things happened after last ski season ground to its miserable end, with changes on the work front that meant I have a lot less free time as I focus on learning and growing in other areas for a while. That’s okay; sometimes the unexpected opportunities that come calling make finding a compromise worthwhile.
So, how did the summer pan out? Well, when you don’t have as much time, you focus a lot more on making the most of the time you have. With that in mind, one of the things I realised early on was that it was time for a new bike. It wasn’t that I fell out of love with the Instinct, but my riding focus shifted quite noticeably away from the all-day adventure rides and into rapid-fire climbs and descents, with downhill skill-building the biggest challenge.
I did my research (always a librarian at heart) and settled on a bike that’s way out of my league, but that will serve me well for years and years to come: a Banshee Spitfire. My bike stable has been pretty Rocky-centric over the past few years (with a brief Cannondale intrusion) but it felt like time to move to something new. And I really liked the idea of supporting a North Shore company, with bikes that were made for riding here.
It wasn’t easy. The production run of small frames was short this year, and I tried every supplier in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler without luck. Finally Cap’s in Richmond said they were able to get hold of a single raw frame, and I slapped a deposit on it as fast as I could. The shop staff convinced me to upgrade the suspension to the CC DB Inline shock, which hadn’t been on my radar – I’ve had no issues with the Float previously – but I figured since I was (for once) forking out for a brand-new bike, I might as well go all in. The final build looked lean, mean, and ready for anything.
It’s important to start as you mean to go on, so I loaded the bike onto the car and headed for Half Nelson. It was unsurprisingly somewhat weightier than the Instinct on the climb, but the 1 x 11 drivechain didn’t make as much of a difference as I’d expected. Then I pointed the nose downhill, and set off on the best joyride of them all.
The bike was brand-new. I hadn’t dialed the suspension in, or adjusted to the very different geometry. On that first run I dropped two minutes from my usual Half Nelson time, and was in the air so much I wasn’t sure whether I was riding or flying. The DB shock was soft as butter, and the more compact, slacker geometry sent me dipping in and out of corners and riding high on the berms with shocking ease.
When you don’t have as much time, you make the most of the time you have. Suddenly the summer seemed full of a whole new kind of promise.