Sweet! Got the Jamis from the shop last night on the way home from work and then swung down 495 to catch the Rosaryville night ride at 7. Traafic was super light going south but I could see the hell brewing over on the outter loop. The guys got the Dragon 29'er set up with a singleater and it was set to roll. Unfortunately an inner bolt on the singleater taps a couple of my spokes but I['ll take that over not riding any day.
My initial feelings on the new frame were that it definitely had me on a shorter wheel base. I never paid too much attention to overall geometry and the bike's measurements since I really don't know much about that but I could automatically feel the difference. Not a bad thing, just a bit twitchier then the Exile had been. I think the headtube angle on the Exile sloped out more so the front end felt a little funny at first, also adding to the twithy feeling.
Out on the trails the group of 6 moved with a purpose and I quickly got the hang of the bike. On the inner loop I had some issues; whether they were more just me riding poorly or the bike behaving differently then I expected I won't say but I'd like to think it was a combination of the two... With a little extra suctitude on my part. I hit the handle bar at one point on a tiny handlebar hieght cut off sapling trunk and it flipped me over the bars. Totally unexpected and definitely my first relatively hard crash since Big Bear. Had some other minor issues clearing a few logs but otherwise everything was smooth.
At this point I'm feeling like I'll definitely need to be upgrading the frame to gears, I'll probably start by moving it over to a 9 speed set up. While it is great in that it's got me back out on the bike, the singleater slipped a good bit and isn't the ideal riding set up for me. The good news though is I really do like the frame and will definitely be able to build it up into a nice geared hardtail as time and money permits.
One other note about last night's ride; for the first time I used only the head mounted (performance brand 10 Watt) light as opposed to combining that with the bar mounted NiteRider set up. It turns out I think the two lower end lights combined were causing me more issues then I realized. I'd try to rely too much on the bar mounted light and would just throw myself off with the headlamp, not to mention the bar light turns with the handle bars, not my head. So the solo headlamp actually provided a far superior riding experience for me. That's good news since my bother in law is borrowing the NiteRider these days. Now to pick up a decent helmet mount light with an actual helmet mount. (Last night my black electrical tape was missing so I used white athletic tape. Talk about ghetto; my helmet looked like a head cast.
Forgot to mention the excellent first tasting of some home brew in the parking lot after the ride made by Eric and Paul. Best ride leaders ever! And an excellent scotch something ale Eric said came from a book of clone brews by a guy with a difficult name... I think I got it.
I know what the brother in law will be getting for Christmas on top of those bib shorts I already gave him... :) (I sense a very selfish agenda on my part, riding gear so he'll ride with me more and home brew recipes so I can get more home brew beer...)