When 29"ers were yet seen as a curiosity, a fad, or something far worse, (some folks are still thinking all three things!), the idea of someone racing a 29"er in the upper ranks of mountain biking was not even on the radar, much less a serious thought. Now things have changed dramatically in those regards.
Of course, the Fisher-Subaru Team has raced 29"ers for a couple of seasons now at selected races. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Sam Schultz are regularly using the big wheels now, but that's to be expected. Fisher Bikes is the 29"er company, by any one's measure, so having the team use 29ers isn't taken too seriously outside of their fan base as a rule. Now though, several others are looking at, and using big wheels in racing at the sports top level, and folks are taking notice.
Let's tick off a few highlights just from this season.......
-Todd Wells uses a Specialized carbon 29"er hardtail to put in a spectacular ride. He breaks a chain at the start line. Fixes it, is dead last in a 120 plus man field, and rides in for a top five finish in Fontana, California.
-Niner Bikes sends riders John "Fuzzy" Milne, Deejay Birtch, Rebecca Tomaszewski, and a couple others to Italy where they dominate the Finale 24hr event. Niner takes the 8 man team category- with 6 riders- ......on single speeds against geared riders! Tomaszewski won the solo female category on her geared Niner hardtail. All against top riders in Italy.
-Salsa Cycles first Selma single speed in the U.K. is ridden to the U.K. Single Speed Championship.
-Heather Irminger wins a short track XC event on a Superfly hardtail recently with Todd Wells and JHK coming in one, two on big wheels in the men's event.
Get the picture?
Could it be that now 29"ers will be another "tool in the box" of all top pro racers? Well, maybe if the Europeans start to ride them, and with the recent accomplishments in Italy and the U.K., this may not be far off. But then again, who in their right mind would race a 29"er? It's just silly, right?
It's going to take more wins and top finishes, but I think that it is just silly enough it will happen sooner or later.
That's it for today. Dodge the rain drops this weekend and ride your bikes!