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The saga of the 29er

Live in reality, not in the paradigm of who you wish you were.

That's a complicated way of saying that I'm past the days of riding a 29er mountain bike and need to stick to the (now) conventional full-suspension rides.

The photo at left is a retro shot of John O'Mara, a very fast motocross racer in the 1980's. I saw Johnny at the Daytona Supercross. He continues to be proficient on mountain bikes and races for the Specialized brand.

The new rage is 29 inch wheels (as opposed to 26 inch) on mountain bikes, for less rolling resistance and more adaptability on rough terrain. Almost all of the new 29ers come with a hardtail rear end...they have foregone suspension in light of the larger circumference wheels.

I talked to Johnny about his experience on the 29ers. The new geometry frames have a bit more "give" in them and riders can also run less air pressure in the 29er tires - that adds up to a lighter ride with my power to the ground.

But this I know. O'Mara continues to be a fast and gifted rider. At 48 years of age, he's still getting 'er done on the west coast mountain bike scene. He rides a couple of gears higher than I do, stays out of the saddle a ton and uses his legs as shock absorbers.

That is in huge contrast to Tommy master competitor. I tire easily on the trail and keep my butt in the saddle over long woods stretches. When I rode the Tour de Felasco on a Trek Fuel, the rear shock was soaking up most of the rough stuff...while I worked to pedal my way to the finish.

I have often attempted to emulate Johnny's training and riding tactics. But I am only an average man and he is world class.

That's OK. We can still talk and be friends and all these years later, I think we are both comfortable in our own skins.


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