Southern France is sunny. Slack angled long travel 26er bikes are the perfect all mountain machine. Short chainstays are essential. Decathlon clothing is sub par. All above, just some of the things we have found just simply ARE NOT TRUE on our trip so far. Me and Ed were invited on this trip by Dirt magazine which was apparently going to be a 29er test week. And when we got here, we were the only ones with 29ers! Jones is on a Labyrinth DH bike, Rowan Sorrell on his Orange, Ash from TransProvence on his Mega.
Here’s my lovely Titus El Guapo 29 sample snuggled up in a damp garage next to Rowan Sorrell’s Orange. We had an awesome first day of riding on a couple of trails around Digne Les Bains, which feature in the equally amazing Trans Provence race. Switchbacks and loose wet rock featured heavily and have been a testing ground for us, but the bikes have blown us away with their surefootedness in uncommon conditions. We’ve also done comparison runs on 160mm 26in bikes and it’s quite amazing how our minds have retuned with a 29in bias and the result that we’re now pretty used to the big wheels, so the other bikes seem to have “tiny wheels”. The new on one “Chunky monkey” tyre samples that we had flown in specially are making a big impact. Super aggressive large size, they make a great tough conditions front tyre. We don’t think they will fit in the rear of many bikes, but the awesome levels of grip and security at front on “death tech” hairpins is wonderful. I’m gushing, sorry, inspite of the rain. Very happy to be riding, especially after largely having six months off the bike and even seven weeks ago not actually being able to walk. More today. Sounds to be still raining. Off to Decathlon for more dry clothes. Worst bit? French breakfasts are rubbish. That’s no lie. —