I met up with Matt, who was in neighboring Orlando for the holidays while I was down in Tampa, and we rode the old stomping grounds, Morris Bridge. Part of the Wilderness Park system in eastern Hillsborough county out near the USF campus, Morris Bridge is comprised of mostly of low lying rooty trails surrounded by the flood plains of the upper Hillsborough River. These trails were the first that I rode some 20 or so years ago, and while the climbing is nonexistent, the technical nature of some of the lowest trails is still a pretty good test of skill. I rode the trails last year over the holidays too, and I remember then thinking that I was surprised by how much of the trail features that I remembered, considering that I hadn't been on the trails for 10 years. Well, the familiarity was still there this time around, and Matt commented on the same experience, that he felt the familiarity of the trails even though he'd not been there since he left USF over ten years before.
Matt brought his orange EWR, and I had my blue. His Turner had a broken derailleur hanger, so he was without his latest passion, and my white EWR single speed, which has been my most favorite bike recently, has a broken eyelet on the front rim which will force me to rebuild the wheel, so I was without the services of the old girl for the trip. It was a convenient excuse for both of us to have our new EWR's in the same place. The newest bikes we owned, in a park that was the first for both of us, two riders who started riding together way back in the day. A neat juxtaposition all around.
Matt's EWR is a wee bit different than mine, other than the orange color, he's also much less dialed in to the retro scene, so his bike features much more modern components and weighs about two pounds or so less than my 27 pounder. He's running the Maveric SC32 fork, an Industry Nine rear hub (with the proprietary Maverick hub up front), and some funky little gold Dangerboy levers. The levers were pretty snappy for newer stuff, but I'll stick to the good old Alteks, thanks. His wheels, however, got me motivated to build a more modern wheelset to take advantage of some of the more proven advancements in wheel technology. My current 217 and 6 bolt Deore XT hubs weigh a ton! I only sampled the Maverick front end in the parking lot of the Communications Building on campus later in the day (read on!), so I can't say too much about the fork. Matt's very impressed with it though, and his aggressive style is not too easy on suspension.
Matt and I also hit the campus for a little scoot-around, just to take a look at the place. There have to be at least 10 new buildings on campus built in the last 10 years. And the dorms look completely different, with a bunch of new dorm buildings parked in the old parking lots, with parking decks all around to take up the slack from the lost surface lots. The wildest part, though, is that the original University Center (Marshall Center) is completely gone! Replaced by new HUGE structure that is roughly 90% completed! Wow!