No pics, as I was having too much fun to stop.
MY GOD it was muddy in the woods. Since the last time I was there we have had another three or four inches of rain, and I got home looking like the mud monster on two wheels..... EXCELLENT.
The road ride to the woods was quite an eye opener. I have ridden lots of bikes on this section of road now, and the feedback I was getting was that the forks and frame are really well matched (as you'd expect), both taking out all of the usual road buzz.
The gravel path is now a gravel, mud and leaf path, made more interesting by the addition of lots of sticks thrown into the bigger puddles. As we all know, wet muddy 10 inch long sticks and mountain bike tyres are not the best of friends. Anyway, as the tyres were working well and the steering on the Yates is millimetre perfect, I was able to pick my way through, even at a fair old canter.
On the first really steep climb, the Fire XC Pro's showed they were not the knobbly DH tyres that are on the DeKerf, and they gave up the fight about 2/3rds of the way up.
On the plus side, they roll really well and I was able to carve all the twisty turns a a good speed.
The double hump was not rideable, so I trotted up them and hopped back on for the switchbacks, which were both taken with ease. I guess my riding and balance are improving, but I have to say the Yates made the lefthander straightforward and the righthander downright easy.
Bless North Somerset Parks Dept. Someone has been the length of the long rocky climb and cut back all the brambles and overhanging branches. This means instead of the pencil thin rocky path flanked on one side by killer brambles and on the other by a muddy gully edged with more killer brambles, there is now actually a path wide enough to pick a route over.
The Yates lack of weight was noticeable on the climb, as even when losing traction completely, I was still able to keep plugging up the climb, and it really was not as hard today as it was a couple of day ago on the DeKerf, which by it's very nature is a heavier bike.
The gentle downhill gravel path was a hoot, as the Yates is so light, so sure footed and so well balanced that I really don't have to think about anything at all, just riding.
The gradual fast rocky climb was a bit of an eye opener; first because as I came belting round a corner I found a result of last nights gales, in the form of a large tree lying across the path. Second because the Yates is really pretty smooth over the rocks, which tells you that the frame is flexing exactly as it should... I likey.
MUD, and I mean major mud. All the bridleways are brilliant at present and this is where I must have taken on my bog monster look. The short sharp climb defeated me, but only because I was having a little trouble getting the granny gear, so was much slower on my approach to the climb. I am sure that with a tiny bit more speed at the start, I would have cleared it, no problem.
Yet more mud and the Yates just flies through it. Of course it helps that I know the woods well and know which route to take, but never the less, we still cracked on through the gloop in fine style.
The road section to the back of the golf course was also quick, with that rather satisfying thrum thrum thrum thrum coming off the tyres to match the power being pumped through the pedals.
The rocky / muddy path was taken with absolute ease, both standing and sitting, the Yates and Fire Pros made nothing of it all.
Down towards the fram, the track was really thick and muddy and even downhill, progress got a bit slow and a bit of a slog for a couple of hundred yards, but once onto harder ground, the speed picked up again. I then swung left onto the little single track, or badger track as my son calls it, below the paddocks at the local stables. This path finishes in a sharp right turn straight into a muddy rocky climb that looks like a river bed. Well, we managed the climb with traction aplenty, much to my delight.
Then home, down the banzai hill, slowed by some dopey cow in an Astra who needed to brake for every parked car, until the point where she realised she had some muddy grinning loony overtaking, at which point she took off like a scolded cat.
Into the end of my road and the short steep climb was taken easy,easy,easy. No flex, not trouble, no nothing, just climb.
A quick belt down the hill to my place and we were done... oh, no we weren't, as 100 yards from my house a car overtook. I immediately recognised the car as one belonging to a bloke who just moved in two doors up. I also know he likes to reverse his car onto the drive, and sure enough, with me bombing along at close to 30 m.p.h, he pulled right and blocked the entire road, while putting his hazard warning lights on.
If I had been driving a 42 tonne truck, he would now be dead, as it was, I had anticipated his move and had the brakes on hard. Never have I been happier to have a pair of SQUEEEEEEKY front brakes. I missed the front of his car by about six inches, and got some form of apologetic wave from the dopey ******* (insert you personal favourite insult).
My conclusion? The Yates is a darlin. It is light, quick steering, nimble and kicks on at a terrific rate. It seems happy to handle almost any terrain with ease yet at the same time it is a very neutral ride. It is as close to my DeKerf Mountain as any bike I have ridden, no wonder Dave is not that keen on Chris' work
One change that must be made; I have to lose my M600 Shimano levers, as they really don't suit this installation. I have some Avid levers I'll try, or get some of those nice 1997 Shimano XT lever in silver / black that just look pure class to me. Oh and I have to toe in those front brake blocks... or maybe not!