In the traction department, I was not lacking. The widely spaced, medium-height tread pattern on the Tubeless Ready Bontrager Jones XR tires actually turned out to work quite well in the soup. They did a good job of self-cleaning, except in one particular nasty patch of clayâ€”where any tire would have been overmatched. As I mentioned in a earlier post, I converted these tires/wheels to tubeless, so I was able to run the tires soft enough to give the bike a sure-footed feeling on wet, muddy roots and rocks. This did not surprise meâ€”in the mud I prefer tires with a pattern like the Bontrager Jones XR’s. I’ve never been a fan of those tall-knobbed so-called mud tiresâ€”the knobs can squirm over wet roots and send you on your backside in the blink of an eye.
At the end of the day, I was happy to be sporting 27 speeds, and not just one. I resorted to my granny ring on more than one occasion, and kept grinding alongâ€”while others pushed. The drivetrain didn’t give me a lick of trouble, despite the harsh conditions. While I normally prefer Gripshift, this was one day that I was happy to be sporting trigger shifters. I went through three different pairs of gloves on Punk day, and my experience is that wet, muddy gloves and Gripshift is not a good combinationâ€”when the shifters and/or gloves get a coating of mud, shifting can become difficult to impossible.
Having 110/120mm of front/rear suspension is a definite advantage in technical terrain on a nasty day. Being able to keep my butt in the saddle and put the power to the pedals, while the suspension sucks up the impacts, lets me hammer through some unbelievably bad conditions. It goes without saying that full suspension and disc brakes were the shiznitt on the downhills.
You know what? I’m pretty darned happy that I left the singlespeed hanging on the hook in the basement after all.