What a great ride? Yesterday, with my nose running all day and my leg still tender I checked the weather, texted everyone and decided that riding would be off today. This was the first time that I had my choice of all of our demo 29ers (Whyte 829, Scott Spark 29er andScot Scale 29er) I really wanted to try the Scale again and was also tempted by the Scott Foil as my Cento is stripped down. But the weather scuppered all plans as I rode home in the pouring rain with wet weather gear.
It’s amazing what a good meal, some fine wine and paracetamol can do. So inspired by the domination of Wiggins and the sheer grit of Richie Porte in the Tour of Romandie I pulled my King Kahuna of the wall where it has been locked up since September. Put 30psi into each tyre, fitted my pedals and checked the fork. I was going to mountain bike in the morning.
The weather may have been crap but it’s not winter nor that cold and I have enough gear to keep me comfortable and dry. I was going to ride with Matt who’s a bit slower than me which meant that I could enjoy an easy cruise as I wanted to gently blow my cold away.
Riding a 26” wheel bike feels a bit sketchy when you usually ride and 29er, however, it’s all in the mind! I have ridden this bike for 15 years and it has been through many guises from old school XC race machine to trail bike and back to a more modern XC race bike. Whilst I have embraced the 120, 130, 140 even 150mm travel trail bikes I always came back to my trusty Kona preferring to rely on luck and judgement on the descents in favour of climbing ability. So, regardless of how the front wheel kept skidding across the roots today I knew that this bike worked and all I had to do was switch off 29er mode.
I was using Maxxis Crossmarks front and rear which, whilst designed for the dry, work really well on wet chalk. In fact better than a knobby tyre so my climb up from Mouse Lane was a relatively easy breeze and, to my amazement, I didn’t miss the extra traction (30% more) that I’d have on a 29er.
In view of the weather and my complete comfort I ought to describe my gear. Endura FS260 ¾ shorts, Endura Superlite waterproof shorts, Baabaa base layer, Gore Tool jacket and when the rain came I added an Endura Pakajak jacket to keep the wind off. Despite the rain and wind I was warm and dry on the inside. I wasn’t working hard so when I got back I found that apart from the cuff and a small sweat patch on my chest the Baabaa was completely dry as were the the FS260 shorts above the knee. I felt as if I could have ridden all day. Now that is really impressive bearing in horrendous conditions. If you only buy one bit of inclement weather gear you won’t go far wrong with a Pakajak. The moment that you put the Pakajak on your temperature goes up as the wind is cut out. It doesn’t matter that it’s not fully waterproof as you’ll be warm and it is more breathable that any impermeable top regardless of cost. It even has vents shuld we every get any summer waether.
So if you haven’t got a 29er yet, don’t worry. A 26” still works!
Here’s the ride on Strava