Kona hits the dirt!

Kona Kilauea by you.

Although hit the mud would be a more accurate description of the first meeting of old bike and recently squelched trail. It’s a build completed through the scavenger process of beg, borrow and reverse-steal*. The wheels are borrowed, the outer ring offers no toothy service other than stopping the chain falling off and the tyres are a cheeky combination of old and useless.

A lovely warm morning greeted my childish pre-ride enthusiasm. And while I was ready, the Leigh brood were not. And in accordance with the law that any actiivty with Children – up to and including a week long holiday – takes twice as long to prepare than actually participate in, it was rain not sun which greeted our cautious slither onto the trails.

It’s been nearly eighteen months since the kids rode out on proper dirt. A gap only just long enough to ease the trauma of Verbal’s repeated facial braking experiments last time out. And although they both had little falls and the biting back of hurty tears, they also made their old man properly proud with no whinge mud sloppage, some fine turns in leafy singletrack and brave attempts at muddy roll-ins.

At the end of which, demands were coming thick and fast for grippy pedals, mud tyres, cooler riding togs and bigger wheels. All of which were apparently “holding them back”. I cannot imagine where they learned such things.

As 3/4 of the family retired to the inside of the love bus to munch snacks, I took the Kona for a fast run through some sweet rider built singeltrack. The handling is on the lively side of involving mainly due to a stem a full two inches shorter than stock. But the whole experience was about as I remembered it – instant pickup from a pedal stroke, look-corner(tm) steering negating the need for any obvious muscle movement and a wrist battering experience vaguely remembered from 1995.

I’ll leave you to decide exactly how such an experience came about 😉

If I close my eyes, I can see long summer evenings offering up dust and hardpacked singletrack in equal amounts. Riding something like this through the trees toward a dropping sun and a well earned pint could very well be a path to cycling nirvana. Although not until I can find a tyre that is a) less than 2 inches wide and b) points in the same direction as the front one.

* This is where you enter a shop, request a small but vital component only to stagger out some five minutes later having been legally mugged.

Old Kona, new paint job

Old Kona, new paint job, originally uploaded by Alex Leigh.

Arrived today in the midst of a work crisis so deep they’re calling it the “UK Trade Deficit”. I just had time to insert non boingy fork into lovingly repainted frame before spending most of my evening driving to Swindon.

Not for work, to offload the roadrat to a very nice man who has absolved some of my new bike buying guilt, by taking an old one off my hands.

Already the Kona is showing it’s age with a noticeable lack of cable stops that shall require my best shed-bodgery, or a load of white gaffer tape. I’m not in a huge rush to build it as the tyre clearance does not suggest awesome mud performance.

In fact, after last weeks slopfest in the Forest of Dean, I’m considering a switch to tracked vehicles until light again becomes a feature of the hours post 5pm.

Right I’m off to search eBay for a turn of the century mallet. It’s important to respect the age of a thing. As I keep trying to explain to my kids….