I suffered today. No complaints, just not much fun. I’d had a good road ride on Friday and always planned to ride in the dirt today. The forecast was for rain at ten and it duly delivered, bang on time. I was actually looking forward to the rain as I have an Endura MTR Emergency shell for protection. I rode with Jon who was and will be a South Downs Way bashing partner. We wanted a break from road riding and with the trails in perfect condition it was going to be a good fast ride. We were both on Whyte 29Cs, mine being the 29C Team.
We headed for Houghton Forest which was nigh on perfect. The trails were dry but just soft enough to provide exceptional grip. Jon’s local knowledge is really poor so I had to lead most of the way. This is a problem as leading a strong rider puts pressure on to never to let up. All the time that he was on my wheel I felt that I had to push on. The inevitable happened but our road riding together kicked in and on the flatter sections I was able to get onto his wheel and draft my way back home. The head wind was really strong.
29 or 27.5?
There is a big debate over 29er versus 650B. To be honest it doesn’t matter. Go for the one that you think is best. For fun riding and single track the 27.5 inch wheel size is arguably more fun and seems quicker, not sure that it is quicker though. If you are an oldie like me interested in as much speed and distance as possible then choose 29. If you want a full-sus ride then the 27.5 probably makes more sense as comfort is not an issue.
My Whyte XC 209 C wheels are so light that there is very little loss of acceleration. If you
are on a more modest budget then it makes sense to go for 27.5 as the smaller wheel will accelerate better than a heavier/lower cost 29 inch wheel. However, be aware that a more modest budget may mean an alloy frame the 27.5 will lack the comfort of the 29er. The case for and against is so close that you can buy your new bike and know that there are enough good reasons to justify your choice. But, at the end of the day, who cares? Getting out and riding is what really matters.
Here’s the ride. It was surprisingly mild considering the wind was from the north. Bone dry until the rain arrived. The suffering was good as it will help prepare the body and mind for our fast attempt on the South Downs Way later in the year. Of course we had to stop for a blue bell photo. Thanks Jon for the company, the speed and taking the pictures.