Did the Leisure Lakes XC race yesterday, even though i really didn’t think i should – after the strathpuffer i imagined my legs would just give up the ghost and leave me like a lame duck – on the scandal. It seemed the right thing to do, what with Brant letting me keep hold of it for a bit.
I stood on the start line, shivering, after a horrible ride there into a headwind and nasty hail and wondered how much difference running a 29er on a course made up almost entirely of tight singletrack with several hairpin bends round trees (tight enough for me to almost clash bars with someone as i went round the bend in front of them and headed back in their direction!) would make.
From the go and for the first 3 laps i was in a whole world of trouble, culminating in being undertaken twice going round said hairpin bends. It wasn’t until the 4th lap, after i’d retaken the lost places in a sprint down the only straight section of the course, that i remembered how several people had described a different technique for hurtling round corners on a 29er. I gave it a go round the first hairpin and amazed myself by not ending up in the bramble bushes on the outside of the corner. To convince myself it wasn’t a fluke i tried it again on the next hairpin, this one having a nice slimy puddle on the exit. It wasn’t a fluke.
A bit of readjusting of riding style round the rest of the course and i was able to keep enough speed up to ride away from everone and win, hurrah!
So there you go, on this occasion at least, provided you’ve got decent tyres you can fling a 29er round silly tight singletrack and overly sharp corners faster on a 29er than on a 26″ wheeled mtb (if i’d tried the same technique on my old bike i can pretty much guarantee i’d be embedded in a thorny bush somewhere on the course!)