Kristin ended up getting the Specialized Myka Expert and Kari got the Trek 6700 WSD. Both are hardtails with RockShox Tora forks, Avid disc brakes, and aluminum frames. Kari got the better spec'd bike for a little less than Kristin's bike cost because of a sale we weren't aware of, but Kristin really likes her bike -- it's red with blue butterfly decals. After spending a short eternity in the store getting Kristin fitted for new helmet, shorts, gloves, and shoes we finally made our way back home where I would lead the two of them on a short ride on the woodchip trails by our house.
Kari, being an avid rock-climber, former rugby player, and all around party-girl-daredevil took to it right away. Kristin has some bad memories of the last time she tried mountain biking (8 years ago) that she has to shake off, but she has the fitness and sick personality that will allow to her find pleasure in the long grueling climbs. I'm already planning to cap her summer of biking off later this year with a ride at Sun Top.
We only rode 5.5 miles or so, but both Kristin and Kari were shocked at how much harder it is than they expected. Granted, the woodchip trail surface really saps your strength, but the small hills we did encounter were a lot tougher for them than they expected -- and that was with me calling out good, simple, gear combinations ahead of time. Both were humbled about how difficult this sport can be and are going to try and find ways to get some rides in on their lunchreak at work. We celebrated their foray into the world of mountain biking the only way any self-respecting biker would: with a trip to the local brewery for lunch!
Kristin and I rode again on Sunday, this time about 6.5 miles or so and a little more trail. Kristin also took a few partial runs through the skills park here on Snoqualmie Ridge. She was dangerously close to going off the side of a ladder bridge, but she was able to correct her steering and not fall off. I also had her take some small descents in front of me and ride off the side of a walkway just to get a feel for how the suspension fork can help her.
As for me, let's just say it was a good thing I didn't decide to go and ride the Tour de Cure century ride. Granted, it awas 88 degrees on Saturday, but my sickness had me feeling very weak on the bike and pretty winded after just a couple of slow, easy miles with the girls. I felt a little better on our ride on Sunday, but here I sit Monday morning with a sore throat and a cough, and super-stuffed nose. The only thing that's improved since Friday is that my fever seems to have finally gone away. The plan right now is heavily weather-dependent, but we're likely going to go out to Spokane for the race Friday morning as planned, pre-ride the course (Kristin wants to pre-ride it with me Friday night to get a taste for singletrack) and then give it a shot on Saturday. With any luck I'll feel well enough to plod along throughout the day and night and actually try and race it, albeit with a fraction of the fitness I had at this point last year. If that doesn't work, I'll just play chearleader for everyone I know who is also racing. But, if it's going to be cold or rainy and I'm not feeling almost back to normal, then we're going to stay home and cut our losses.
One other thing: the Dirt Corps guys are adding to the bike park on the Ridge. They're currently working on a beginner-friendly cedar roller coaster through the woods downhill of the skills park. It even has a few wallrides already assembled. Here's a shot of me hitting one of them on my singlespeed yesterday.