So what happens when a new tread is headed our way? We get excited, employees become fidgety, impatient feet clamoring to be clipped in aboard bikes tap about helplessly beneath desks, our fingers drum incessantly atop desks, we downright get the shakes wanting to know what the new tire will do in the dirt. And then we figure out ploys, ahhhhhem, necessities, mandates, to go ride, like product shots for the new Trail Boss tire.
Where do you go to test out the ultimate trail tire - the tire that, if you pictured the best trail you could possibly ride, the best conditions, best friends, best shape you could be in, coolest subtle command over every nuance of the bike's handling, best sweeping lean angle, if you could picture all of that, this would be the tire for that dream worthy perfection. The ultimate trail tire, so where do you go?
We thought about it, cared deeply, lost sleep, bobbled orders, got tongue-tied on the phone, blamed things on not enough coffee - all over musings regarding the perfect test ground. And then it hit us, it should have sooner - what's better than loamy Redwood, fastidiously kept, narrowly tasty, ribbons of perfection darting through giants blocking the tyrannical sun from ever drying out conditions of shade-grown perfection? Well, nothing's better than that so Mendocino-bound we roamed.
Fewer than a three hour drive from our industrial grade coffee maker (WTB's headquarters) lies the sleepy oceanside town of Mendocino, home to fewer than 1,000 souls. Tucked behind those souls, all of 'em, are a series of drainages in Jackson Demonstration State Forrest where trails are tightly benched into hillsides, surrounded by ferns, and every climb earned seems paid three fold over in descents that twist, undulate, pin it, dart, and even switch back. It's the perfect playground for the perfect tire and at the end of the weekend, all of us knew the Trail Boss is the perfect tire.
A car campout in a grass yard beneath a water tower converted to a house (thanks Jesse!) started the weekend. Sales, marketing, OEM sales, warranty, outside sales, just about every department was represented. An unnecessarily complex discussion of logistics started the Saturday, then the pedaling began. There really is something special about Redwoods, an awe you feel beneath them, and conditions that seem forever consistent. Decomposed foliage turns to duff and then ages to dirt perfection - it's almost springy blasting into turns, the traction is endless, and the shade cast from above keeps everything perfectly consistent - trust builds at an alarming rate as Trail Boss tires dig with no relent.
It quickly became apparent that those oh so perfect conditions make for - well, challenging photo conditions for those of us that had been licking our lips for weeks thinking of Mendocino trails and the perfect shot for the Trail Boss. Did it ruin our fun? Nope, but it does give me a deep respect for photographers who can fully capture the essence of riding deep in Redwoods.
Saturday night we car camped on a beach to the north of Fort Bragg complete with a bonfire and revelry over the tire and the trails we rode.
Sunday we were up, boiling water for coffee, dusting the sand from our belongings before meeting Kenny Burt in town for tasty food and trails. Kenny shamed us with speed that effortlessly flows from his jovial, smiling manner and riding style. There's good reason Kenny took fourth at last year's Downieville Classic.
More shots, more ferns, more wet dirt, more back it up and take another run at it, more drop the gear and just take a high speed lap at it and, before we knew it, the day was done. Time to haphazardly load ridden gear, stiffly hoist ourselves into truck cabs, and pretend the dirt plastered to frames would dissipate with the drive homeward. Highway 1 wound its way south and we couldn't wipe the smiles from our faces.
Here's to the Trail Boss, there couldn't be a better tire, and here's to Mendocino, there couldn't be better trails.