Saturday I originally wrote that my King Kahuna and the Riftzone were too sketchy to ride but changed that to read that I was now used to big wheel bikes. Sketchy would be wrong as they are both superbly balanced bikes but after using a 29er I know that I can be fast, safe and in more control. I suppose it’s a bit like using my son’s new mega laptop and then going back to my old machine. It still works, it’s just not as good.
I must admit to having lost my nerve on Wednesday despite riding a bike that I have raced and ridden for 13 years. As well as the 29er thing I have to admit to not going off road recently. Today I really needed to find my mojo and not hide behind the ease of a big wheeler. So this morning I went out on the Marin Riftzone XC8. Although it only has 100mm of travel it rides as if it has more and will climb anything with ease, you just need to pedal. I was going to be taken to a special track. It was steep and the terrain was mostly made up of loose chalk and clay dust – now that is slippery! However, the descent was made do-able as it consisted almost entirely of berms linked together virtually from top to bottom. Now this was fun and right on queue I found my mojo. I felt right at home again. Just to make sure; we rode it again. I now was up for taking on all those obstacles that have recently caused me grief. Add to that a whole load of spare horse power (I don’t know where that came from) I was having the time of my life. There is a well know trail that is known for its down hill fun but it is also a great climb (a beautiful climb when damp) but I have always had problems riding up over the jumps, today I rode it twice and cleared every log knowing that if I can do this today I’d be flying next time I got onto a 29er. I even met the customer on the Niner EMD that I had so wanted to ride but by then I was a happy man and did not mind at all. I ought to mention the weather: Indian Summer bliss. Who couldn’t ride well in these conditions.
Whilst 29ers may well be the future it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun on a 26 inch wheel bike. Don’t worry your current steed is not obsolete but what I would say is that if you are looking for a new bike in 2012 you’d be foolish not to try a 29er and if you are 6 foot or more you’d be crazy not to go for a 29er.