It was a cold, frosty morning somewhere in deepest Colorado. A large unmarked truck pulls up in the race paddock area and parks up where I am standing. The back door of the trailer is slowly lowered and plumes of smoke pour out.
Was I here to do the latest NORBA 24 Enduro or had I been caught up in some secret UFO government test? Well, almost, because out of the truck came a chain-smoking-Californian-with-no-name, carrying a new secret weapon – The Cannondale
Painted in plain old black with no distinguishing features other than a Lefty fork to shout “Hey I’m the new Cannondale” the decal-free bike looked like a stealth bomber. I couldn’t get over how light it was, despite the suspension (Like, that’s new!). However, any of you who know me will know what I think of short travel XC suspension.
For those that don’t…Every soft-tail I have used in the past has done nothing but hack me off because I found they flexed, which is fine if it’s in the direction you want it too! I always ended up back on my hard tails. This was compounded at the Redbull 24 hour last year when I made the British and World Record attempt on a soft-tail and found myself having to pull up due to aggravation of an injury in my lower back. If I ride anything bouncy, it is meant to stop this happening!
The tech guys carefully talked me through it all and I did like what I heard but they just said the best thing to do was ride it, and a 24 hour world-class Enduro was as good a test as any I thought. The race started and I went off too fast, and I felt I was going to die and thought “Why don’t I get a proper job?!” but that’s how I always start.(Prat).
After a lap or so I settled into my rhythm and the bike felt great! The course was fast and bumpy much like our on 24 hour Redbull so I wondered how my injury prone back would hold out this time. After 6 hours I was sitting in fourth place but not too far off the leaders and my back still felt fine. As the night drew in my mind started to wonder and all kinds of crazy thoughts entered my mind (And those of you who know me know I have an over-active imagination). The moon was so bright most people were turning their lights off to save power which I thought was mad as in the snow capped mountain top sections of the course you felt alone enough! As the sun appeared behind the mountains I was totally relieved the end was near and my back was fine, AND I had moved through to 2nd place! I started to up the pace to try and close down race leader Chris Eatock(Trek) but with an hour to go I was just not going to be able to bridge the gap.
As I came into the arena on my stealth machine the crowd were cheering me on so in a typical Matt Carr move I attempted to pull a wheelie over the line and ended up in the crowd barriers. The mysterious chain-smoking-Californian-with-no-name flinched a little, and scuppered the Scalpel away before cameras got too close, while I retired for a well earned shower.
What a great result. And what an amazing bike! Full marks to those guys at Cannondale again as they have produced in my opinion the ultimate full-suspension XC race bike ever. FULL STOP!
Big thanks to Mud Dock.