This past weekend we had the chance to get out to the small town of Mosier Oregon to partake in the excellent "Mosier Mayhem" ride put on by the fine folks at Our Mother The Mountain. This year's route promised challenge aplenty with the official "long" route offering 9000+ feet of climbing across 66 miles. The rough and rugged nature of the terrain made it a perfect testing ground for a John Day shod with 650b "road plus" wheels and tires.
The day dawned warm and clear as 100 or so riders rolled out of Mosier onto a route that was advertized as "best ridden on a rigid mtb." The initial climb was no test for the John Day, even as smooth pavement gave way to graded gravel. The frame and tires ate it up, with the stiffness of the frame responding to out-of-the-saddle efforts by asking for more.
Climbing was briefly interrupted by a dirt descent, which our smaller group blasted out in no time before continuing on our way up to regroup with the bulk of riders on course at the top of Hedges Grade road, which is described thusly by the event organizer:
Hedges Grade descends roughly 1000 feet over two miles of large loose rock averaging -15% to -18% gradient. It's been described as 'gnar', 'super gnar' and 'holy f--k'. So be warned.
The next few miles were to prove the worth of the John Day, as the "road" of large, sharp, loose rocks tilted ever downward. The bike held true on rough lines but remained nimble enough to switch lines to pass yet another rider outgunned by the confident handling of the Renovo.
Still, a few miles of rough, rough descending (see photo above) took its toll and we were ready to pause. Upon hitting the bridge at Mill Creek most of the group stopped to filter some water, as there wouldn't be another opportunity for miles and the promise of a break next to a cool stream was too powerful to pass up.
With the bottles all topped off we began the steep climb out of Mill Creek valley. The suffering was somewhat tempered by the beauty of the forest, as we rode in and out of an old burn returning to life.
After topping out on Mill Creek Ridge we descended the increasingly smooth gravel roads back toward civilization, with the John Day again rewarding speed by smoothing vibration and chatter, while rewarding efforts to stay in the big ring whenever rollers punctuated the descent. Ultimately the group opted to forgo the singletrack options and complete the "easy" version of the ride with a fast descent back to the cars and waiting coolers of cold beverages.
All in all a great ride, and definitely improved by the ride quality of the John Day. This bike is responsive and willing on pavement and smooth gravel, yet manages to get even better on rough roads. The lateral/torsional stiffness of the frame makes for surefooted handling while the smoothness of the frame (accentuated by the Longbow seat stays) rewards the rider with comfort and enhances the predictability of the ride even on the worst roads.
Tech note- We've had a few folks ask whether the John Day works with 650x47mm tires, turns out they fit the frame just fine on 25mm internal-width rims. We still think 700c wheels are the go-to platform for smoother road and gravel excursions but if you ride rougher roads the 650b "road plus" platform merits exploration.
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