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Wow are my legs tired. But it's a good tired and I've really missed this feeling. I had an injury in August that required surgery to fix, so for the last 3 months or so I've been living vicariously through this forum to get my biking fix. Fortunately, I was able to start commuting to work again a month ago, but today was my first off road ride. Not only that, it was my first ride on my new bike. I posted a thread a while back titled "Anyone 6'1" riding a medium Karate Monkey?" because I was thinking a medium frame would work better for me than the large KM I had been riding all season. After hearing other's opinions, I decided it would be worthwhile to try the medium frame. The day after I placed the order was the day I had my accident. Maybe it was in an act of defiance that my current bike, knowing it was going to be replaced, decided to throw me. In any case, the frame arrived but I could do nothing with it until my arm started to heal.

In New England, the end of November is not the best time to get back into mountain biking but I hope to get in a few more rides before the snow really piles up. Today started out at 22F and warmed up to 35F by the time we hit the trails. I did a loop that I often do that is closest to my house. It looked so unfamiliar now that all the leaves have fallen and I don't remember there being so much climbing, but it’s more likely that not being in mid-season form made me feel like there were so many hills.

I'm glad I got the medium karate monkey. Just sitting on it in my apartment after I built it up made me think it was a better size for me. I built it with Jones H-bars, which I just didn't like at all on the large K. They just didn't feel right, but I decided to give them a try on the new frame and they feel much better. (maybe it's because I've been away so long I've been "reset" in terms of bike fit). I'm using a 130mm stem, which makes for a comfortable reach and also places some weight over the front wheel. I have the seat way back on the rails so I also feel like I have more weight on the rear tire and it seems easier to push off the rear of the seat if I need to when descending. Overall, it feels like a whole new weight distribution relative to my old bike and it seems to be for the better. Climbing felt great, steering felt quicker despite the long stem and the bike just felt more "controllable" navigating through rocks and roots. The problem I had with the H-bar originally was that it’s widest position was too rearward for me, but for some reason it felt good today. I especially liked having my hands at the intersection of the angled part and the straight part for control in rough stuff.

So with all the new 29er frames becoming available in the past few months, and only being able to read about mountain biking in that time, I had pretty much convinced myself that I needed a new bike. It was just a matter of deciding between sliding dropouts and EBB. But now I'm psyched all over again and was reminded of how much fun I've had on the KM in the past year. So hopefully that will hold me over for a while.

A couple of photos: The guys in front are my riding buddies (on 26ers--I'm working on that).


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