This weekend I got the 1×1 out for a ride to test out the 29″ front wheel. There was some doubt as to if this was going to happen or not because of the weather. There was a steady rain on and off most of Friday. I knew how hard and dusty the trails were and told everyone that I would be there unless it was pouring Saturday morning.
Unfortunately I woke up to hearing rain out the window. I had hoped that it would either be done by then or hold off until after I started riding. Taking the dogs out it seemed that most of what I heard could have been coming from the trees. It was windy and knocking lot of drops off of the leaves. It did rain lightly on and off until I was ready to head out.
I did hit some rain as I got closer to French Lick, but there was no turning back. I knew that the trails would not be a muddy mess. The dirt was way too hard to get that soft over night. I did hope that it would have stopped raining a little bit so the water could run off of the trail first. When I got to the parking lot there was only one other car there. I guess everyone else thought it would be muddy.
I think the people at the counter thought I was nuts when I signed in. I am sure they figured I was about to get muddy too. I can understand their thoughts as it was quite wet in the parking lot and everyone on the golf course was getting wet. One big difference is that I will be in the woods riding a trail that is designed to shed water correctly.
We hit the trail after we tried to reach some of the other riders with no luck. The trail was great!! I could not have been happier with the trail conditions. It was so nice not having all that dust everywhere. There was a cool looking fog and haze that made the trail look different. I wished my camera batteries were not dead because there was some good looking sections that would have made great pictures.
I guess it rained most of the morning while we were riding, but I really could not tell. The air was thick and there was a mist, but I didn’t feel a lot of rain drops. You would get some every now and then as the sections were more open. The trees created a perfect canopy that kept us riding in our own little world oblivious to the rain out side.
The trails were empty except one runner and two lady’s that took a wrong turn. Good thing we ran in to them or they would have been out there for a while. They thought our bikes looked muddy. I guess they kind of did to someone who does not ride, but they were far from muddy. They did have some dirt on them, but really not too bad. It was mostly the dust that did not get washed off of the trail and clumped together to form bigger pieces dirt. The leaves were starting to fall in some areas and were slick in the corners.
As far as the front wheel goes, the jury is still out. There were a lot of things going on. Some good and some not as good. I loved having the bigger front wheel because it handled and steered like my other bike. I also did not mind having the smaller wheel on the back. The biggest problem I had was trying to balance between the two. Since the two different wheels take some different riding styles, I found myself leaning the wrong way most of the time and having some trouble with traction. I am sure that more time on the bike would help this.
The thing that concerned me the most was that the front wheel seemed to be more harsh then the 26″. This is way off of my experience with the bigger wheels. I did have a different tire on there and that might be some of it. The 29″ is using a Mountain King 2.4 and the 26″ is using a Rubber Queen 2.4. Looking at them it seems that the RQ is a lot bigger in volume then the MK. I measured them both and they are very similar in height and width, but it does not look like it. I also forgot to check the air in my wheels before we left. I guess I was not awake just yet. I did let some of the air out of the front tire and it helped, so maybe using a gauge would get me closer to what I want.
I am not giving up, but this was a step back in the feeling of riding a rigid 29er. I know I have not spent as much time riding rigid this year and that could be part of it, but I sure felt beat up after the ride. It might have to do with how much those down hills rock! I was having a hard time keeping the wheels on the ground and being safe. I did find one big issue with running a 29er on the 1×1 is that it has some toe overlap. This would normally not bother me for most of my riding, but it is not a good thing to figure out while flying in the air and kicking it out some. It scared the crap out of me when I hit my foot and figured this was going to hurt. But, it didn’t and I ended up hitting my foot a few more times before the day was done.
I ended up riding about 25 miles. We did the big loop in a figure 8 first and then went back the first loop the other way. Nick was having some pedal issues and called it a day after he broke the cleat off of his shoe. I then continued to do another full lap. I even messed around on one rock section that I have been eyeballing since the first time there. It still needs some love, but it was close to being good.
I hope to get out this week or at the least get another ride in this weekend. The schedule is getting full for the rest of this good riding season. Here is my planned future: Tower Park, Breakdown, Race to Canal, Double Dare and then the Gravel Grovel. It should be a good fall.