Like buses, and all that…
So, about my Scott Scale Contessa 29er. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you, eh? Truth be told, neither did I – I’ve been interested in the idea of 29ers for a while. Obviously there’s the word-of-mouth aspect, with several friends (and a husband) jumping on the big-wheeled bandwagaon and thoroughly endorsing it. There’s the magazines who bleat on incessantly about them. And there’s the slight issue that some manufacturers seem to be switching exclusively to 29ers.
But there’s always been one, tiny, tiny problem. And that problem is me, being tiny (vertically, at least..) Given that I’ve struggled in the past to find 26ers that fit (women specific being too short in the top tube, standard models being too lacking in standover), I imagined that there wouldn’t be much choice in the 29er department. I’d demoed the Giant Anthem 29er, and that had been rather nice, but sadly I didn’t have enough time with it to make a real judgement. I’d demoed the Specialized Camber, which was almost nice but had impractical standover – it was fine once I’d got going, but was hard to mount, dismount, stop and start. Ah.
I’ll also wasn’t that bothered about getting a full-susser, as I’m quite happy with the Professor. I wanted to get something that I could put some miles in with, preferably a hardtail. Mainly because winter makes the Professor sad…
I was pondering a Niner EMD, as they do tiny. But as fate would have it, I was browsing the classifieds on Singletrack World (which I rarely do, because I’m normally posting nonsense on the chat forum), when Mr Toast piped up over my shoulder, “Oh look, a Scott Scale Contessa 29er in small…”
After a bit of research, I bit the bullet and bought the bike. I may possibly have missed out on paying my share of the mortgage that month, and been a bit stingy with the Christmas presents, but… NEW BIKE.
When it arrived, it was a surprise and a relief to find that it did actually fit – it actually feels quite similar in terms of length and standover to the Professor. Whilst Mr Toast did frivolous things, like assembling the bike, checking the brakes and immediately assessing what upgrades were needed, I did sensible, practical and important things, like ordering getting matching purple grips and pedals, and later a much needed pink chainstay protector from Swinnertons.
I decided to get familiar with the bike before taking it on anything remotely techy. After pootling around fireroads though, I wanted to see how I’d get on FtD. For some reason, I’ve had it in my head that there’s no way I’d be able to ride FtD again on a hardtail – my knees are rubbish, and I’d probably gotten too used to my skills compensator, etc, etc. So I picked sections 9 – 12, as they’re relatively tame, and don’t have too many narrow bits through trees that I could clip the comedy handlebars on.
And I didn’t die.
It was actually good fun. So much so that I finished the trail and did Tackaroo too – strangely I felt like I had a lot more control. I don’t put that down to wheel size though, I put that down to my forks and shock on the Professor being set far too soft. Mr Toast has been banging on for ages that I need more pressure, and now I think I can see why.
Since the first ride I’ve been around a few times, and getting better each time. I’m also really glad that I commute to work by bike now, because although I went months without going off-road, at least I’ve kept some level of fitness. As opposed to the traditional three months of hibernation, followed by biking and vomiting by the start of where section 13 used to be.
Looking forward to getting more riding in this year – hopefully Mr Toast won’t have quite the same amount of overtime (and hopefully I won’t either), plus we’ve found a great daycare place for Benny so we can go biking together again.