The Singletrack Staffers pick the standout products and locations from their riding year.
The year has felt a little like approaching that nemesis feature on the trail: you roll up to it full of optimism, then at the last minute pull on the brakes in an attack of ‘nope’. Whether it was a ping that put paid to yet another plan, or a shipping container that didn’t arrive as expected (by now, perhaps, that should be ‘as expected, a shipping container didn’t arrive’), we had plenty of interruptions along the way. However, our northern hills had an unusually dry summer, so we managed a decent spell of short-sleeved riding on our doorstep, and there were a few chances to get further afield that we grasped and enjoyed. Like that trail feature, once we cleared it, the elation at meeting friends, riding new trails and generally enjoying bikes was all the sweeter.
Amanda – Art Director
This past year I’ve worked hard on improving my fitness to allow me to enjoy longer adventures without the fear of running out of beans. In the process, I seem to have found my cycling niche. Cross-country riding has combined my mountain bike skills with fitness training, and the races I’ve entered have improved my bike handling skills due to the nature of cross-country racing – laps of a circuit where you can learn from your mistakes. I’ve gone cross-country.
Juliana Wilder Carbon CC XO1 AXS TR Reserve
This is one bike I really didn’t want to get attached to, but I’ve found it to be my go-to for every ride. The lightweight, short travel frame is designed for cross-country racing, and between Santa Cruz and Juliana, there are enough build specs of the Blur and Wilder to cater for not only the serious cross-country racers, but also those after a ‘do it all’ bike, capable of trail riding.
So why didn’t I want to get attached, and why did I? Well, the model I have is so far out of my price range at £8,299 that I almost feel apologetic when I turn up to group rides on it. I could live without the AXS and the £2,000 Reserve wheelset, but the frame and suspension are so perfectly in tune that I’ve found myself doing so much more than cross-country rides. Capable is an understatement – I really don’t believe I need more bike than this for almost everything I choose to ride. My bike handling has improved, along with my understanding of trail features, grip, cornering – everything that makes a good rider basically. And thanks to the Wilder being so fast rolling and great at pedalling uphill, I’m getting longer rides in. It’s out of my price range, but it has opened my eyes to the kind of bike I’m suited to and it’s got me over my fear of racing, since the XC crowd is so fun and welcoming, I can’t get enough!
Read Amanda’s First Look here:
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