Ray’s MTB Park Ohio Road Trip

There was vacation time to burn, but terrible, horrible, awful, east coast weather in the way.  (The weather may actually have been nice, I can’t remember.)  Either way, I needed a change, from the monotony of solo road rides and lapping the same mtb trails over and over again.  It was time to get out of town and do something that no man has ever done before.  (In reality many men, women, and children have done this before, but doesn’t it sound more exciting the other way?)

On preparing for a BMX trip, there is an ever evolving list of things to bring with you.  It is as follows:

  1. RedBull– A necessity for any journey.  They say it gives you wings, but the evidence of that comes from a cartoon commercial, so we can’t rule it out, however can’t prove it to be true in a controlled environment either.
  2. Animal Can I Eat? Soundtrack– This got me stoked for riding as a teenager and still does trick now, especially the Stephen Hamilton part.
  3. Malt Liquor–  No BMX trip is complete without a tallboy of Steel Reserve or better yet a Colt 45. Even if you don’t imbibe in the earthly pleasures of alcohol, you can still throw the full, unopened can at aggressive drivers, or rig up your own roller system in the hotel room.
  4. Your Bike–  This is sometimes overlooked, and when it is your day takes a downward spiral fast. (Actually at Ray’s you don’t even have to bring your bike, they have really nice rentals of MTB, BMX, or 26” Dirt Jumpers.)
  5. Tire Tubes– If you have them with you, you won’t get a flat.  This is Newton’s Law of tube poppage.

So I got these things together along with spirit of wonder and adventure, and got into my car and drove to Cleveland, OH.  The drive is very easy.  It’s literally one road for like 600 miles, and then you do some windy, twisty, turns through the manufacturing area of Cleveland and arrive at Ray’s MTB.

After a six hour drive, I dropped my stuff off at a hostel and went straight to the park.  There was no time  to waste on things like dinner or rest.  The park is enormous. I can’t even describe the magnitude.  They have bike trails, pump tracks, skinnies, ramp rooms, street spines, and very very big jumps. Everything looks smaller on the GoPro… Just Sayin.

There are also a great things to do in downtown Cleveland, like going to local breweries and museums. (The Cleveland Art Museum is free by the way.)

In short, whether you ride a mountain bike, a BMX bike, or a road bike, a trip to Ray’s is a must. They have everything to keep beginners and experts shredding the gnar and having fun. So if you get the chance, do it!

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Jamis Dakar AMT Pro 650b Review

Yes your eyes don’t deceive you, that’s Sram X0-1.

Yesterday I was able to demo the Jamis Dakar AMT Pro with 650b wheels. Before I tell you what I thought of the bike, it is imperative that you know my background and thoughts about 650b wheels (or 27.5” for you nerds.)  I am tall-ish (6′ 1.5”) and once I rode a bike with 29” wheels, I thought that there was no need for me to ever ride smaller wheels again.  That was great for a couple of years until 650b wheels gained popularity and people started arguing with me about how great they were.  I thought, “Nah, they’re just a fad that will go away soon.”  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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The actual demo bike with a dropper post. (It was radical.)

When I first mounted this beast, I was impressed with the geometry.  As an All Mountain Bike, I expected it to be very slacked out and climb like this.  (Poorly if you don’t feel like clicking the link.)  The front wheel did feel slacked out, which added a lot of control and handling, but the bike climbed great and didn’t feel like it was robbing me of much energy up the hills.  This was not by any means a cross country race bike, but the up hills were all certainly manageable.

But the downhills make me want to write this like a teenage girl… OMG!!! This was one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden.  On a descending or flat trail this bike takes off like it has a jet engine.  Rocks, roots, switchbacks; the Jamis AMT 650b rolls over everything  with speed.  The geometry and suspension are set up perfectly so that you can get through everything quickly, comfortably, and with a smile on your face.  At least that’s what I did for our entire ride at Ringwood. The Sram X0-1 shifted incredibly smooth, and the chain never came off of the front chainring.  The three-point adjustability worked flawlessly on both shocks which made climbing or riding on fire-roads a lot easier.

Now for the 650b… The hype is real, as this is the do-all wheel size.  I rode right over big pointy rocks with the same confidence I would on a 29er, but was able to really lean the bike over in the corners which enabled me to go faster than if I were riding a 29er.  The conclusion that I came to about these 650b wheels is that they are the ultimate all-purpose wheels if you want to have fun on a mountain bike.  The only time I though that 29” performed better is at slow speed in large rocks.  Does this minor drawback really outweigh the benefits? No not really.  In those circumstances a 650b wheel is much more maneuverable than a 29er which enables you to choose your lines and put the front wheel where you want it to go.  In my opinion, 650b is the only choice for an all-mountain style bike.

A big thanks to Mark for an awesome demo day, trail guidance, and burgers!

A big thanks to Mark for an awesome demo day, trail guidance, and burgers!