Will a Better Mountain Bike Make Me a Better Mountain Biker?

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Years ago, I was out on a mountain bike ride in the Methow Valley with a group of friends when one of our riders broke his chain and we all gathered around scratching our heads wondering how to fix it so he could get himself out of the wilderness. Different jerry rigs were attempted with no luck while I stood nearby and spaced out at the pretty views. I know what many of you are thinking. Didn't anyone in the group have a chain tool and master link? After about 15 or so minutes, someone expressed this sentiment - "too bad we don't have a master link." Oh - did someone say master link? "I HAVE A MASTER LINK!"

I will never forget that moment. Everyone turned and looked at me in astonishment.  Astonished that I had a master link because I just saved the day; but also astonished at my sheer flakiness as in, why didn't I speak up earlier. Thankfully, the fact that I even had it won out and no one asked any questions. The answer is, I had no idea what a master link was for. I just had it in my saddle bag.

Needless to say, I always carry a chain tool and master link with me even though I'm not entirely confident I'd be able to execute the repair. It's prevented several shit shows since.

So I'm excited to bring to you this week's Gear Show episode focused on mountain biking.

I recorded this episode ages ago and am running it way later than anticipated because I was going to lead in with: How pumped are you for mountain bike season? But by now, I hope you’re already riding. I just returned from a month in France - and the idea was to have episodes keep running because I had the interviews "in the can," so to speak, but then I got over there and decided I didn’t want to work as hard as I intended to. As a side note, we did a lot of trail running over there, and I'll tell you more about that in a future episode.

Anyway, I have not been out on my bike yet.

Back to the show: I often wonder if a better or different bike would have helped me ride that section I just got off my bike and walked. Or is it trust in the bike and self-confidence in my own ability that I need? So I asked my friend Rusty Spiedel to come on and tackle this topic, and talk about what bikes can do for us. We discuss different wheel sizes and their pros and cons, different types of terrain and body types and the importance of the Adjustment Ride - do you have the right travel on your bike? Is the air in your fork enough or too much? Are you locking out the suspension at the right times?

Lastly, Rusty shares with us a few tips plus a bonus one (at no extra charge), on preventing your next mountain bike shit show.

Please share your added thoughts in the comments below.

PS: At one point early in the conversation, I use the word “clearance” when I really meant “travel.”

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