Had a rest day on Saturday (Day 3), which was nice.
The aim of this ride was to try and push the Tallboy to the limits of what you’d expect from a 100mm FS XC/Marathon bike. I was considering doing Afan W2 but in hindsight this route definitely pushed my limits (if not the bikes). I’m pretty confident the Tallboy will fly around any of the South Wales man made trails.
The ride did not start well.
I realised too late on Saturday that I was running very low on rubber glue. This made me a little nervous, especially on a long solo ride, as I didn’t have a spare 29’’ tube, and my only real solution was to patch up the tubes in the case of punctures. Within the first half an hour a thorn in my rear tyre, meant I could test my theory that you I could use my 26’’ tube in an emergency. It worked fine and the 26’’ tube did the job for the rest of the ride.
Rather than follow the same route I’d done a few times before with mates, I decided to be a little adventurous and keep off road, where before we’d take a link road. This did not pay off and I needed to retrace my tyre tracks a couple of times.
So before I really got started I wasn’t getting in any kind of good rhythm, walking over rock sections my 5 year old lad could be riding, picking bad lines etc. etc. Then to make matters worse I hit the hike a bike section up Y Das. So now one and a half hours into a ride I was hoping to finishing in 3 hours (certainly less than 3.5 hours) and not enjoyed much of it, except the first set of climbs and bits of the single track.
Thankfully things got a lot better once I was on top, and heading towards the reservoir. I was finding the 29’’ wheels let me pick a new kind of line where I could skim across the top of the larger rocks. Who’d have thought those extra 3’’ would make that much difference. Also the VPP meant I could just keep on peddling through it all, must be averaging a good 18 mph over what was a much rougher track than I remembered. I also started playing with saddle adjustment which helped.
After the Grwyne Fawr Reservoir, came the fire road not surprisingly the Tallboy raced up this without incident. Again I went off route and hooked up with the single track on the ridge, this was a good move as this was easily one of the most enjoyable sections.
As the single track section got steeper I really felt the need for getting the saddle down, I really don’t suffer too much on my 26’’ Large bike as it is pretty easy to get my arse over the back, but being planted “in” the 29’’ wheels it was the first time I started to yearn for a adjustable seat post.
Now the final bit of road, before the climb, must admit to really looking forward to this part of the ride. The tallboy didn’t disappoint, and despite having to put my foot down once, on the hard left hand turn, I did feel like “next time” I’d clear it.
Now the final decent, and here I started to doubt the 100mm travel option, mind you this is the same decent when a few years earlier I saw a mate totally trash his original Spesh Enduro, so it might be a little unfair to judge the Tallboy so harshly. But this section did leave me wondering if I should consider 120mm fork and a adjustable seat post, but putting these on this bike … well it just seems a bit wrong.