Willy Bartlett and the crew at Silver Mountain Bike Park were kind enough to fire North America’s longest gondola up early just for our group and we eagerly piled in. The huge mountain sat in front of us and the fresh, black, sticky tires were dying to do their job. Most of our group had never ridden the mountain so our excitement grew as we climbed higher and higher under the blue sky.
The mid-travel 29er I was riding sported a Vigilante up front and Trail Boss at the rear. As the day went on I slowly aired down in attempt to combat the somewhere harsh ride of the test bike, which did lead to a rather significant injury to my KOM rim as I sent a blind step down a little too deep into some sharp rocks. The catastrophe was most likely exacerbated by the fact WTB was unable to get their 60tpi, dual casing tire there in time for the camp and the soft 120tpi tire just didn’t have the juice necessary for that kind of action. Nevertheless we put a tube in, pumped up the tire to about 28psi and finished out another long day! Impressive for lightweight tires.
Typical media camp photo-jackery took place for about nine minutes– a record if I recall. Or maybe I just didn’t listen to instruction well and got distracted trying to chase Marco Osborne and Mark Weir’s roost.
That first “photo run” was about the only time we spent that day on any sort of groomed bike park trail. From there on out it was Marco and Mark’s mission to find the steepest, rootiest, most natural trails on the mountain. As to be expected, they succeeded. I named my Strava ride (‘cuz otherwise it didn’t happen) Hand Death and after sacking more than 12,000 vertical feet of descending, that’s what it felt like.
Normally as media guys we use the old faithful barometer that a product works well when we say, “I wasn’t even thinking about XYZ-thingamajig, I was just able to focus on the ride.” Well, that tired old saying didn’t come up once during my two days and 20,000 feet of descending. Instead, I was constantly thinking about the tires… Instead thoughts like “Holy shit, this trail is so off camber and fresh, there’s not even a line yet. There’s no way we can hold on,” or “Okay, for sure the knobs are going to squirm in this corner,” or “Dear Lord, how is there so much traction everywhere!?” were racing through my head as I tried to chase the scent of Mark’s man musk down the trail.
It’s been a while since I’ve flown home from a media camp with such a positive opinion about a product. WTB’s new tires kick ass. In fact, I’m a little bit bummed that I’ve been home for almost a month now and my test pair still hasn’t shown up.
Obviously two days riding a gondola and shredding down a hill aren’t the best way to test all angles of a tire, but they certainly gave me a jumpstart in several categories. I look forward to spending a lot more time on these tires in my local dirt, pedaling them up hills and coasting on slightly flatter trails to see how efficiency and rolling speed come into play. Until then, I’ll anxiously be waiting for my tracking info from WTB.
To learn more, visit WTB.com