Yes, folks, itâ€™s true. I admit it. Up until yesterday, I have never done a proper ride on a 29â€ mountain bike. There are a lot of reasons why Iâ€™ve stood by my 26â€â€¦and 26â€â€¦for so long. Iâ€™ll spare you the details, but the main reason is that I love my personal bike. Itâ€™s a custom rig, and I have a strong bond with it. But I know that after some time on a 29â€ bike, I would want one for my own. Thus my current beloved bike would fall by the side.
Sure Iâ€™ve done a spin or two on a 29â€, but nothing long enough, or with enough substance, to truly convert me. Or for me even to appreciate any differences from the 26â€. But now I have to ride one for an extended period of time. Karen put a Jamis Dragon 29 under me, and itâ€™s time to go for it.
So I consider yesterday to be my first true ride on a 29â€ bike. My friend Dave billed it as a â€leisurely four hour rideâ€ at French Creek. And since I like to punish myself, I decided to run a 5k race a few hours before we rode. (I finished 12th overall, thank you very much). Of course, Daveâ€™s promise turned into a fast and hard three-hour ride instead. It was a tough day, but a lot of fun.
Especially once I got semi-comfortable on the bike.
Aside from already being half beaten down before the ride even started, this was the first ride in a long time where I had gears on a bicycle. After not using them for so long, it took some time to get used to. The bike also feels a lot heavier than what Iâ€™m used to. I havenâ€™t put in on the scale yet to find out for sure, but I really donâ€™t want to know just yet.
But the fun doesnâ€™t end there. I didnâ€™t bother to look at the Reba fork before my ride…let alone adjust it. It needed some air, and I had no shock pump on me. Thankfully the fork still worked fine, though I wasnâ€™t able to lock it out.
As for the feel of the ride, I immediately noticed that I felt like I had more momentum with my pedal strokes. Kind of an odd, but cool, feeling. I also have to agree with all the people that have told me that 29â€ wheels roll over and through things much easier. I liked that, and got used to it quickly. The first several log hopsâ€¦ok, pretty much all of themâ€¦proved to be tough. Getting the front wheel up and over obstacles proved to be more of a challenge on this bike.
But the big challenge for me yesterday was that the bike handles differently than Iâ€™m used to. It doesnâ€™t seem as nimble as a 26â€ rig. Thatâ€™s not necessarily a bad thing. But it is taking some time for me to get used to.
Overall, yesterdayâ€™s ride was great. I had a very rough first hour on the bike. Not only was I getting used to many new variables, I was also dealing with a lot of descents and a lot of climbing. Once I got over that part of the park, the next two hours went much better.
Later this week, Iâ€™ll be taking the bike to ride some of the tightest, most technical singletrack in and around Philly. Iâ€™ll also get you some of the numbers and measurements for the bike