A visit to Specialized HQ with the Rad Riders! (Part 3)
|Aaron Edge takes some laps around the pump track|
Unfortunately for us, there were too many new items in there to let us in. Instead, we pulled out some P-series bikes and discovered the pump track built right there at the back of the building. This was a new experience for almost all of us. So what do they mean by a pump track? The idea is that after you enter the course with some speed from pedaling to get there, you maintain your speed and motion by "pumping" (shifting) your weight back and forth on the bike - rather like the motion when using a swing on the playground. It's a great comparison, because it's such a fun experience that you feel like a kid on the bike. While most of us tried to get the hang of it, Seth Rand and Rad Rider Chris Trask showed us mad skills and rad lines.
Back to the regularly scheduled programming and on to the apparel lab we went. Specialized designs their clothing in the apparel lab. However, unlike other companies, they make their own prototypes themselves in the lab as well, including the visual design, using their own sublimation machine. By making their own prototypes, they can have them real-world tested when employees ride and test them in the Win Tunnel for aerodynamic performance. Based on the results and feedback, they will make adjustments and new prototypes until they are perfected and then sent to factories for production. We were able to see one of the now released Evade Skinsuits that was custom made for Vincenzo Nibali. Because it was not a released product yet, we have no photos to share, but it was evident to see that he's small guy!
The final learning session acquainted us more with mountain bike technology. Since many in the group are primarily roadies, they started with basics of how the suspension system of a full-suspension bike functions and the functional usage of the different mountain bike models. Seth and Tony explained the geometry of Specialized's mountain bike frames, the chain stays being a little shorter for more nimble handling; the research in the design of the rear suspension on full-suspension bikes including the location of pivot points. While explaining how the dampening and rebound functions work and how the fluid moves, I was surprised to learn that fluid suspension forks should be serviced every 50 hours of use, because of contamination that the oil will absorb.
It time for lunch and to journey into the Soquel Demonstration Forest to put some mountain bikes to test. Everyone was anxious to get there and it was a decent drive there, so everyone grabbed food to go from the Feed Zone. After driving up some quite winding roads into the mountains west of Morgan Hill, the bikes were lined up to get ready to go. We were all riding full suspension bikes. There was at least a couple of new just released 2016 Stumpjumpers and the 6Fattie Fuse.
Despite driving a good amount up into the forest, we rode uphill for about an hour on asphalt roads, then dirt fire roads. Then we started hitting some singletrack. We still went up further but alternated between some fun singletrack and more fire road. We stopped for a gorgeous view on a beautiful day and regathered the group. Now it was time to start going downhill for a good while!
|A nice long and organized group riding through the forest.|
|One of the awesome bermed downhill turns on the Demo Flow Trail.|
|Aaron getting some trail time|
|Above: Amy, Wendy, Danny & Darby take a break on the trails|
|During a break, I snapped some trail photos for Karen K.|
his toughness after finding the rock garden a little too close up.
|Brian & Amy plus D-Rock coming off the Flow Trail|
|Karen W, DLo and me having a few final laughs together as we get ready to head home.|