Salsa Fargo on Verdugo Mountain

I’m mostly a road rider, but I’ve got a couple trips planned that involve dirt, so I wanted to get the Salsa Fargo out into some. So I set out to explore the Verdugo Mountain area. Mountain biking is good cross training, and as I’d quickly find out, much harder. One of the things that made it tough was that there was no warmup. Maybe I would’ve had an easier time if I rode around some before heading up the mountain, because once you start, it goes straight up.

Hosteller Road climbs 1300 feet in 3.2 miles. It was steep. 17 percent in spots. It took me about 50 minutes to make the climb, with many stops along the way. I was in zone 5 for much of the climb and would have to stop to catch my breath every now and then. Part way up the climb I spotted a snake in the road. A baby Rattlesnake. His “rattles” not fully formed yet.

Just before the top I got passed by a group of riders. Jamie, Adam, Lyle and Inyo the dog. At the top, Jamie, asked how the Fargo was in single track.
Me: “I don’t know, I’m not much of MTB’er”
Jamie:” Wanna join us?”

Things started out fine. The Fargo goes well on the dirt roads. On the climb up I had to keep lowering my tire pressure as I’d started out with too much. I finally got it to a point where it was absorbing more of the impact and gripping better. On the road at least.

Sidenote: I just picked up a GoProHD camera to play with. This was my first time using it on the bike. I was really glad to have it with me, as you’ll soon see.

We hit the first bit of single track, and things start off pretty good. I made it up the first climb up from the fireroad and the first few turns of the trail. There was a crazy steep drop that I rolled down, and then there was a wall to ride up. Well, I made it up, but I quickly veered off the trail and crashed. Nice! Luckily, I had the GoProHD recording and here it is.

Salsa Fargo on Verdugo Mountain from Errin Vasquez on Vimeo.

Back up on the bike, ready to try again and a turn or two later was another steep drop. I tried to control my speed, but the Vulpines weren’t a match for the conditions. Not enough bite so it was either a fast roll or a sliding rear. Nothing in between. Before long I was over the bars, feet in the air and Fargo on top of me. It was one of those crashes were everything happens just right. I was laughing the whole time. No broken bones, just a few scratches.

Only problem was that I was a such an angle that I was stuck. Wedged in a ditch, with the Fargo on top. The weight of my Camelbak making it tough to get out. Luckily 2 of the guys saw the whole thing happen, so they came to help out. Before I got out though, I handed them my camera. Always thinking of, I asked them to snap some pics. They were happy to oblige. Look closely and you’ll see me peeking out through the rear triangle.

After that mishap I chose to stick to the fireroad for the next stretch. I felt much more comfortable on the Fargo on the road anyways. We regrouped at the start of some more single track. More single track! Yep, have to get off this mountain somehow right? They assured me this would be easier, and they were right. There were only a couple tricky sections, and a couple “Hike a bike” sections to negotiate. I was able to ride most of it though. I’ve got a long video of the descent that I’ll upload today/tonight. It’s going to take some time to upload it. I’ll share it tomorrow though. Here’s a sample of something that I rode down.

This was a great ride with differing types of terrain to put the Fargo, and more importantly me, to the test. I tried some different things for this ride. I used a Camelbak, which I didn’t care for. It’s a lot of weight on my back, and I think it’s what made my arms so tired on the descent. Also, I tried out the GoProHD. While the extra weight on the head is noticeable, it was well worth it. Especially for the shots of me tumbling around. The battery did not last very long though. I’m pretty sure it had a full charge, but I was playing with it the day before in the backyard, so maybe I used more juice than I thought.

As far as the Fargo goes, for me, the drops are not great for the tight single track we were on. Not enough leverage to get around the tight turns. My hands cramped a couple of times on the descent. This could have been due to poor form, and too tight of a grip on the bars though. I was in over my head, and probably more tense than I needed to be. I think the Woodchippers are wider, which would give more leverage for cornering. The Vulpine tires are a great dual sport tire, but in loose conditions they don’t have much bite to them. I had to ride the rear brake to keep my speed under control, which also contributed to my hands cramping. I would’ve like to have more traction both front and rear, but that’s the compromise of riding a dual sport bike. Lowering the tire pressure helped, but a more aggressive tread would’ve been very helpful.

Here’s the stats.

At the end of only 8 miles or so I was beat! I couldn’t believe what a work out that was. Thanks to Jamie, Adam and Lyle for the tour of the area, and for pulling my bike off me too! Now, where to today? Hmmm.

  • I love the shot of your feet in the air after in fell in the ditch. Hilarious!

  • NICE!!

    You may want to mount up some slightly nobbier, er, nobbs before you come up in a couple of weeks! If you don’t have any, I have a spare set we can slap on your Fargo come Friday night.

  • Isn’t mountain biking fun? I love it. I went mountain biking this weekend, too. Of course, you have real mountains. We have plenty of hills, but not mountains. And your trails are MUCH different from our heavily-wooded ones.

    It sounds like you definitely need knobbier tires.

    I have a mountain bike with flat bars. I had to have them chopped down because they were too wide to safely navigate the local trails. Almost hit them when squeezing between trees several times. I don’t see many trees on that trail, but you should still keep in mind the fact that you may sometimes need to squeeze through narrow places.

    The videos were a lot of fun! I need to make more videos with my helmet cam …

    • Yeah, it really was fun. Very different then I’m used to though. I think my motorcycling experience came in handy when I was descending, but I’m pretty rough around the edges. Need more practice.

  • Awesome videos Errin – glad the only injuries are to your dignity 😉

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  • JoeDirt

    I found your post via a Salsa fargo google alert. I too made the mistake of taking my (then) new Fargo on a true mountain bike ride. I wasn’t used to the drop bars, the disc brakes didn’t grab as well as my hydraulic brakes on my “real” mountain bike, and the Vulpines are certainly ill-suited for loose steep terrain. I slipped and slid my way down loose rocky AZ singletrack and learned my lesson to reserve the FArgo for tamer trails or a time when I was better accustomed to it’s handling.

    I now have the Woodchippers and the do make things a lot easier offroad. I have commuter tires on my Fargo now, but I want to take some dirt tours soon and I’ll put a regular 29er MTB tire on there for the occasion. I laughed when i saw how deep you really were in that ditch! Thx for the writeup

    • Thanks for visiting. I’ve been laughing at that video all day. I think it’s hilarious. Although, it’s only because I didn’t get hurt too much. It could’ve been much worse.

      Have fun on your Fargo!

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  • TobyT

    The snake looks more like a bull snake to me.

    • Area45

      You maybe right Toby. I don’t like snakes, so I’m no expert.