Worth. The. Wait!!!

About 72 hours ago our LBS texted the following to my phone:
Introducing: Gossamer, the 2013 Salsa El Mariachi 3
aka "Gossy"
I'm not kidding when I say that I think my heart stopped for a brief moment.  Or maybe that was the sensation of my gut flip-flopping in my abdomen.  Anything I'd planned to do that afternoon was tossed aside.

I showered, inhaled a quick lunch, made the hour trip to our LBS, walked in, and found my new friend up high on a rack with a "sold" sign hanging from his handlebars.

I picked out a seat bag (for spare inner tubes, snacks, and other necessities), a bottle cage, and Nate -- one of Velo City Cycles' super mechanics -- cut about 11/8" off of the handlebars on each side, bringing them from 28" wide to ~26" (my previous bike had 24" handlebars and I knew the stock handlebars were too wide for me after demoing the El Mariachi 2, recently).  Mike "MC" flipped the stem, since it was set-up pretty upright for me.

Me, Jan, Sophia, Pea
While I was in the shop my friends Pea and Jan arrived (Jan with fresh cookies from her bakery--bonus!!!) and another "Short but Mighty Race Team" (™MC, I think) member, Sophia.  Only shorty missing was our friend Kaat.  Eventually I think we will all have taken a few miles on this bike.  Thus far I am the only one with a 29er (Kaat has a Salsa Mukluk that she has converted to a 29er, but the geometry is a bit different, so handling would not be quite the same).  Sophia is in the market for a new MTB, so she's particularly interested in giving my bike a spin to see if she would like the big wheels, too.

After paying for our new family member, Gossy and I were ready to head home, picking up DS at school on the way.

Gossy meets Dash -- yes, we name everything, even cars
Gossy was surprisingly easy to fit in my car, even though it has those big wheels (and really big tires--high profile and pretty wide).  It doesn't help that this bike weighs 2-3#s less than my previous bike.  that doesn't seem like a lot, but my back has been pretty jacked-up for the past couple of months (more on that later), so I notice every extra ounce when I have to hoist a sort of cumbersome object into a relatively small back-end of a vehicle (and still have space to fit an 11 year old person in the back, too.  Life with bikes will be easier when he's big enough to sit up front, for certain).

Speaking of life with bikes and kids who have grown up with more-bikes-than-humans (more bikes than humans and cats, combined, even).  Dane gets in the car and I say "hey, look at what I got!"  He looks around and notices nothing new.  Me: "look left."  He looks puzzled.  Me: "LOOK, my new bike."  DS: "oh...COOL!  Huh."  Yeah, it took him a moment.  He's not at all a stranger to sharing the backseat with a bike...but I'm not sure how he missed all that RED and shiny-ness.

Bike in the back!
Of course, we get home and he asks "hey, can I ride your bike?"  I told him that he's still a little small to ride it, but the XS/14" size is recommended for riders 5'2"-5'6", so soon.  He's just over 5', I believe.  By next Summer perhaps I will be willing to let him bomb around on it, some.  I'm afraid he's not want to give it up, though.  The difference between the Cannondale he is inheriting and this bike is profound.  The El Mariachi is not a high performance, lightweight, responsive machine relative to other bikes at the same price-point, but compared to that Cannondale it is still at least 2x the bike...which makes sense, since the original retail is 2x what that Cdale sold for, originally.

When we got home we had to leave Gossy in the car--it was POURING rain, complete with thunder and lightning.  No maiden voyage on Gossy that night, much less a run for DS and me.

The next day was rain-free, so I took a jaunt over to a nearby little park with some quiet, easy single-track for Gossy and I to get acquainted.  I took it really easy, because the handling is quite different from my previous bike, but also because I've been battling lower back evil for a couple of months and it's been at it's worst this week.  Last night I soaked in the tub with epsom salts and then popped magnesium and calcium before bed (I'm not good about getting enough of these minerals and I suspect that plays a factor in this chronic back irritation.  Our mattress may be in need of replacement after 10ish years, too.  I also need to be a LOT better about doing core work and/or yoga.  And last Sunday's hilly and horrifically rutted CX race really seems to have been the straw that broke the Zoomy's back).  This is the most severe and longest-lasting lower back issue I've ever endured.  I feel very fortunate to have never been prone to lower back pain (upper back/neck/shoulders...that's another story, thanks in large part to a certain feline who steals my pillow and pushes my head off at odd angles).

Truth be told, I wanted to get out to take some photos of the bike before big winds came and stripped what pretty leaves still remain on trees.

It was pretty wet from the previous day's rains, so I also took it easy to avoid crashing on the wet leaves and roots. Success!

Last night DH and I went back to the park to get some loops in before darkness fell.  He was on his Salsa Mukluk...we must have looked like an ad for Salsa!  I got my first fall on Gossy out of the way...and my 2nd.  The first fall was the result of sliding sideways along a root covered with loose leaves.  DH nearly lost it on the exact same spot.  He caught himself, I didn't.  I even ended up with a small scrape on the left side of my chin.  There were some little kids right there with their dad.  I made sure to get up fast and brush myself off so that they would have every reason to see that mountain biking isn't scary and falls are no biggie.  The little boy was funny and wanted to know why we ride with water bottles on our bikes.  Kids notice those funny details that we don't think twice about after riding on a regular basis for a while.

My 2nd fall was one of those stupid, klutzy kind of things with a bit of new bike, new handling learning curve thrown in.

I'm really glad I held out for the 2013, instead of snatching up a 2012 a month or two ago.  My previous bike had SRAM shifters and I found the triggers to require a lot of oomph to shift to a larger gear on the front rings.  But I was never really sold on grip/twist shifters.  I took a spin around a parking lot on a friend's bike with the exact same Shimano triggers that equip the 2013 and found them to work better with my small, pathetically weak hands, heh.  I'm pretty content with a triple on mountain bikes, too, even though my road and CX bikes both have SRAM compact doubles (which worked better for my smaller hands than the Shimano road shifters I had on my first road bike).

If I had one criticism of the bike it might be the overly long steerer tube on a small bike (they likely use the same tube for all sizes of the bike), but that's something that can easily be cut.  Right now there is about 1/4" of spacer above the stem and at least 11/2" underneath.  I could do with at least an inch being removed.  DH doesn't mind a bunch of spacers atop his stem, but I don't like the look or the risk of a big dent in my sternum if I landed funny.  And my bike computer won't fit on the stem if we stack spacers on top, either.

Not sure I love the stock tires, either.  They seem great on sand, but a little high-profile, which makes the standover pretty high and they feel a little sketchy on tree roots (hence my first fall and a few other eek moments).  Of course, I can't see the roots under the leaves, so it could very well be that I'm not rolling over the roots like I would if I could see them.  Once I get out to a really sandy trail system near us (may not be until closer to Spring, since they will be closing to bikes in < 1 week and open entirely to hunters) I will probably appreciate those monster tires.  Pretty soon I may find them really valuable on snow, too. *sigh*

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