Bike choice when travelling is never easy. Not taking one is always my preference when going to places with good bike hire options for only a week or three.
In late 2017 I was in Utah and Nevada riding in three separate bike parks and taking the opportunity to sample high-end, trail bikes from Pivot, Santa Cruz and Trek. Riding technical rock on a bike that is new to me may not seem like a good idea.
However, all three were very well set up by the shop mechanics. I felt a sense of confidence from the first moment I swung a leg over them, especially the Pivot Mach 6 and Trek Fuel 9.8. I experienced the Pivot over two days on the sublime, slick-rock trails above Hurricane in Southern Utah.
The only change after day one was lowering the air pressure in the tyres to 20psi in the front and 22 in the rear.
It was an opportunity to compare bikes with similar specifications – like carbon frames, length of travel and wheel size (all 27.5) - with my Zerode Taniwha.
It was the Pivot that narrowly shaded the Trek, both coming close to the Taniwha…but, not quite good enough.
I gave them both death – without killing myself. That slick rock is, counter-intuitively, grippy as. Crash on it, though, and it's very hard, often sharp and it will hurt.
In Samoa there's little in the way of high-end bike hireage on offer. There was only a couple of weeks from accepting the job working in the media department for the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, through Volunteer Service Abroad, and flying to Apia. And a lot to do.
The baggage allowance was generous and included a bike. My first instinct was to bag up the Taniwha.
As I researched what trails there were it became apparent that the Zerode would be far too much of a weapon for the conditions.
My 10-year-old DMR singlespeed was safely in the hands of the team from the 2019 New Zealand Singlespeed Championships in the Hawkes Bay as a prize. The Taniwha found a good home with Gary Sullivan from Nzo.
Which left me with my polished steel Jeffson. Jeff Anderson and I hand built this in 2014 with meatier cyclocross tyres. Great for road and gravel. Perfect for Samoa.
Settling into an apartment in Apia on the island of Upolu and the new role meant it took me a couple of weeks to take the it out. It was cloudy, so cooler at 27C. Most of the roads are good here, well-sealed, with the Jeffson handling any rougher stuff with ease. Ninety minutes of mainly flat track riding later - with a half hour break for food, fine coffee and a tropical smoothie at Uno's Café aka the Green Caravan in downtown Apia - I was back home in Moto'otua.
My goal is to bike pack around the big island, Savai'i, a ferry ride across the Apolima Strait from Upolu. Stay tuned. There's no cycling at the Pacific Games. However, there's an absolute feast of top class sport. Check out @samoa2019 on Facebook and the website, www.samoa2019.ws