Aerospokes off the beaten path

July 12, 2012

The gravel fire road abruptly gave way to a rocky field, with a pair of deep ruts sweeping around a small band of pines inviting further exploration with, shall we say, a significantly higher degree of commitment.


The ruts resembled the high-bank turns of Daytona or Talledega, with a deep pit of red sand down on the apron ready to suck you in like a black hole.


In my mind, this is the standard line of demarkation that folks envision when they look at me with suspicious eyes as I attempt to explain the limits of the Pocket Llama — the Bike Friday we classify as our mountain bike.


They look at our small wheels and believe gravel would be the limit. I refuse to accept that. I try to explain. They see a dead end at the rocky field. I see the beginning of an adventure.


Which is exactly what prompted me to forge on, through the steep bank turns, onto a track wide enough for four-wheelers. One pedal stroke beyond.


Vacationing at Eagle Lake in the Lassen National Forest, I couldn’t help but get out and see the high Sierra in style. My mission, aside from testing some of the limits of a Llama, was to give the Aerospoke wheels a serious test.


When Rob English explained to me the real joy of the Aerospokes would be on rollers, up and downs where the heavier wheels would help maintain momentum, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to try it out.


Little did I realize it would be off-road.


I never raced BMX, but I imagine this is what it’s like. Zooming up and down, sweeping around corners like an eagle soaring on a summer breeze. The occasional rocky sections were no problem. The Aerospokes transmit a feeling of softened strength. Not too rigid. Just right.


Each time I’d see a challenging section, I’m reminded about those who ask about the limits. With the smaller wheels, I can accelerate quickly, maneuver swiftly, and feel more confident to attack small obstacles.


Granted, this isn’t full-fledged, all-out mountain biking. I wouldn’t dare suggest that.


However, when it comes to limits, the Pocket Llama offers just a little extra.




This is my first experience taking Bike Fridays along with us camping, and the typical benefits seem obvious while traveling with our small pop-up camper.


What surprised me was the ease with which we can stow the Bike Fridays in the camper while out hiking, or in the back of the SUV overnight. Stealth is a valuable commodity at a busy campground.




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