tout-terrain, tout-puissant

He’s your prototypical cycling dude de un certain âge: His head is shaved or balding or more probably both, he’s wearing neon framed sunglasses and if I could see his calves I’m sure they would leave me with no doubts that he could destroy me up a hill on any given day. He is of course, the dude standing behind the table at the Specialized demo I’ve just rolled up to. And, naturally, I’ve just signed my life away for the sake of riding bicycles.

“Bring her back in an hour and try another one,” he smiles and extends a 2012 Specialized Epic 29er in my direction. I’ve never really even ridden a full suspension bike before, let alone a top-of-the-line, brand new, perfectly maintained one. He doesn’t know it, but I’m fighting back tears of joy.


Holy Moses, this bike is eating the trail for breakfast. My internal monologue becomes fixated that phrase: Eating the trail for breakfast. Eating the trail for breakfast. I keep repeating it with each turn of the crank.  I’m climbing a fireroad named BFI. I’m not sure what the letters stand for, but after a few minutes I can hazard a guess: Big F***ing Incline. My heart is exploding, but it hardly matters because this bike climbs like a hardtail and still manages to, yes, eat the trail for breakfast. En breve: it climbs with hardtail efficiency, but, ahem, better.

At (what I thought was) the top of the climb I turn around to greet the Pacific, glimmering and vast, two blues meeting, the horizon. California weather so flawless sometimes, it truly is almost disgusting. A guy on a Santa Cruz downhill bike about to head down the trail finds it in his heart to yell, “You’re outrageous!” as he passes by; Apparently this isn’t the normal way up. But no, it’s not me that’s outrageous, I want to yell back, it’s this bike, you see….the bike climbed it I didn’t climb it at all!

Next up: single track and downhill. I am shocked (that was indeed a pun) to find that I am riding, or more accurately, the bike is riding up and down things that would have knocked me off of my ol’ Marin: Rocks, berms, switchbacks, washboard fireroads. Emboldened by the existence of a rear shock and a functioning set of brakes, I come to the conclusion that yes, a bike like this would be an absolute game changer. Is it really supposed to be this much fun? Really? Are you sure this isn’t cheating?


I ended up trying an Epic and a Safire (read: spending about 2.5 hours test riding bikes waaaaay outside of my price range. Shhh, don’t tell the sales guys.) Survey says: Epic > Safire.


One Response to “tout-terrain, tout-puissant”

  1. michael9murray Says:

    Eating the trail for breakfast!! Hilarious!

    But you’d not get me there! I’d rather read you.

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