By Vernon Felton
It's 4:30 or 4:40 or just four-fuckin'-too-early in the morning.
It is, to be precise, the exact point in the morning when most people are peacefully drooling into their pillows. I, however, am shoving the baby monitors over to my wife's side of the bed and staggering about in search of clean underwear. It feels like someone snuck a couple pounds of sand beneath my eyelids since I lay down for a couple hours of sleep. Bonus.
So begins my personal odyssey into Bike's annual Bible of Bike Tests. Twelve hours and four connections from now, I'll land in Grand Junction, Colorado where I'll meet my coworkers; a crew of 11 equally jet-lagged riders, photographers and videographers.
We've come from Michigan, Bellingham, Portland, San Clemente, Vancouver and all points in between. Over the next few weeks we'll test 30 of the latest bikes on the trails surrounding Fruita (with a slight detour for some gravity riding at Winter Park). We'll also continue our ongoing thrashing of a ridiculous number of suspension forks, wheels, tires, disc brakes, dropper posts and assorted miscellany.
Notes will be taken. Sag will be checked and double-checked a million times over. We will seek the big picture (Which bikes truly stand out from the pack?) and we'll debate the arcane minutia (Should you measure chainstay length from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the rear axle or is it really more accurate to measure the distance, horizontally, from the centerline of the bottom bracket itself to the center of the rear axle?).
We will also put aside the tape measures and pointy hats and just ride. A lot. We will drink beer. We will bleed. Photos will be taken. Insults will fly. Arguments over compression damping and axle paths will arise. Completely meaningless feats of strength will spontaneously erupt amongst the edit staff at about 11:30 PM each night. Many nipples, for reasons unknown, will be twisted in the name of Science.
And at the end of it all, we will produce a magazine filled with everything we discover out here in Fruita. We call it the Bible of Bike Tests and it is the biggest, most thoroughly researched and ride-proven gear guide in the cycling world.
You'll find this issue on newsstands in January. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll also see updates and video from the trails in Fruita, right here on bikemag.com