Our first stop when we drove into Hurricane, UT was Over the Edge Sports, the local bike shop. We had heard this area had a lot of good mountain biking and we wanted to get some info on the trails. At the shop we chatted with Clayton who gave us the lowdown on the trail systems in the area, days the shop offers group rides, trail work opportunities and the upcoming Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival. Jerud and I were psyched to learn about all this and told Clayton that we wanted to volunteer for the trail work that Saturday and for the bike festival if they needed volunteers.
The Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival is a 3-day event where a bunch of bike vendors are on-site with demo bikes for festival goers to ride. Shuttles for JEM trails are provided, breakfasts and a dinner are included and there’s a beer garden, raffle giveaways, and music. All for the price of $55. Which is a really good deal.
Fast forward two and a half weeks: the Wednesday before the festival, we get a phone call from DJ, co-owner of the shop, who is running the festival. She needs volunteers if we’re still up for it. The gigs are: lead a family friendly ride at Gooseberry Mesa on Friday morning, work security at the festival Saturday evening, and lead an intermediate ride at Gucamole Sunday morning. We say yes! We were surprised to be asked to lead rides since we don’t live here, but fortunately we had been riding enough to know the trails at those two places fairly well.
Jerud and I had been talking about whether or not we wanted to buy tickets for the festival before we heard from DJ. He was more interested than I was because he’s kind of in the market for a full-suspension bike and was excited about the opportunity to demo bikes. I didn’t care too much since I’m totally happy with my mountain bike. But it turned out we were able to demo bikes as volunteers.
Friday morning Jerud demoed the Ibis Ripley while I went with the Liv Lust.
I’ve always poo-poo’ed women-specific bikes without ever having ridden one. So I thought this was a great chance for me to take one out for a spin. Talking to Ash, the Liv rep, I learned that Liv – unlike other bike companies – actually designed the bikes for women from the ground up. Most companies just start with a men’s bike, “shrink it and pink it” and label the bikes “women specific”. All that means is that they’ve shrunk a unisex bike and painted it colors they assume women like. Those bike companies also put on lower end bike components while charging a similar price as the unisex version, which has higher end components. Apparently Liv doesn’t do that; they are an all-female company that redesigned the bikes from scratch with women in mind. Interesting facts: Liv places the seat tube directly above the bike’s crank arms because women have more power in their legs than other parts of the body and this allows better power transfer; unlike unisex bikes, Liv doesn’t add extra carbon around the stem area because women aren’t as aggressive maneuvering bikes as men are.
When no one showed up for the family ride we were leading, Jerud and I headed out to Gooseberry on our own to ride. During our ride we ran into Cat, Isabelle and their kids. We rode to the scenic overlook with them and then brought Mara, who is 11 years old, with us on the ride back.
She was eager to ride something harder and we had a lot of fun bringing her back with us on the North Rim and Bowls & Ledges trails. She’s a strong rider and did really well on the tech stuff.
It turned out that I didn’t like riding the Liv Lust at all. Even though it was a medium size bike, it felt too small and compact for me. This actually worked out because Cat and I ended up trading bikes. She had taken out the Pivot Mach 429 and the bike with its 29 inch wheels felt too big for her. I really enjoyed my ride back to the trailhead with it and Jerud had a good time with the Ibis Ripley.
Saturday morning we headed out for breakfast that River Rock Roasting Company, the local coffee shop, was providing for festival goers and then we went to pick up bikes to test.
Jerud went with the Kona Process 134 (by the way, the Kona rep there, Willy, is super cool and hilarious!) and I decided to test out another Liv bike – this time the Intrigue to see if all women-specific bikes don’t fit me, or it was just the Lust.
We headed out to Gucamole this time. Immediately I felt the difference between the two Liv bikes and liked the Intrigue a lot better the Lust.
For Sunday, we decided not to take any bikes out because they had to be returned by noon and the ride we were leading wasn’t heading out until 10 AM. Instead Jerud went by Over the Edge Sports and rented the Salsa Horsethief, which he’s been eyeing for a really long time. Sadly no one showed up for the group ride again. But it worked out for us because we wanted to bring the Road It Up kids to Gucamole to ride. Jerud and I ended up splitting up; he brought Karl on the longer Holy Gucamole loop and I took Jennifer and some of the kids on the Gucamole lollipop loop.
We had a blast. The kids were eager to session parts of the trail and try things they were either nervous about or didn’t know if they could make. Jennifer and I took turns spotting the kids in places.
I’m always amazed when I ride with these kids because they are such good riders, have a really positive attitude, and are fearless.
Jerud’s overall conclusion about the bikes he rode: he liked the Ibis Ripley the most – but not enough to pay for it at full retail; the Salsa Horsethief is as great as he imagined it to be, and the Kona Process 134 he took out on Saturday didn’t pedal as well as he was looking for in an all-round full-suspension bike. Was the Horsethief good enough for him to stop riding his current mountain bike? That is to be decided. What I learned is that I still like my bike, Scott Spark, the best (which is always good to find out) and that the Liv bikes don’t fit my body shape or riding style. Just because it’s a women-specific bike doesn’t mean it’s going to be the right bike for me.
We had a great time and would recommend this festival to anyone who wants to check out riding in the Hurricane/Virgin area or is in the market for a bike. While it seemed like most people just took out one bike a day, the real way to do it is to demo as many bikes as possible – which is what Cat did. Bike demos are the best opportunity to find a bike that best suits you or ride a bike you think you want without buying it. Cat did a wonderful blog post with reviews of the bikes she demoed – check it out at her website Road It Up.