The whole 29+ thing is officially off the ground, and very quickly, almost without warning (except for those of you that have been reading my shit and hearing me predict that this is the next big thing for years now) it's the big thing, way up in the sky. Good for us.
The front window of BRC right now has no fewer than 4 of these things. Trek Stache. Surly Krampus. Others. Not fat bikes, mind you, no indeed. These are 29+ bikes, the primary physical difference being 3 inch tires, not 4 or 5 inch tires, and a geometry more aligned for the jibber kids to get rowdy with vs. the old, crusty fatbike crowd that seems content to ride on icebergs or whatever.
I'm all for this. There are a lot of reasons that this is happening, most of them have a lot to do with the simple reality that 29plussers (I just made that up. Copyright pending) can outperform your average 2.3 inch tire in very much the same way that your 29er tire can outperform a 26er, or a 2.3 inch 26er tire was better than a 2.0 inch tire, and so on and so forth. It's a simple process of growth, in a lot of ways, and with the advent boost bottom bracket and hub systems, the overall acceptance of 1X drivetrains, the mold-ability of carbon, etc, have all swung into motion at the same time and in the same way that puberty changes a young man quickly, drastically, and for the bigger. And yeah, things are just bigger now. Good for us.
Here's my prediction, even if you didn't ask for it: In 5 years, everyone but XC racers will be riding at least 3 inch tires.
It will actually be a really divisive thing, sort of the same way that roadies and mountain bikers differ today. Racers will still have their own technology built for speed, but 85% of the rest of the mtb market will be just 29plus riders - and with very little overlap. Today, you can sort of go out and race your average trailbike and not be terribly disadvantaged. But 29plussers, though enormously fun on trail, won't be fast in the way a race bike needs to be, and the idea of racing one will be pretty much laughable. So people won't do it, and people with one bike will have a 29plus, and they'll face a pretty enormous barrier to entry when it comes to racing which doesn't really exist today, and they won't overcome it, and they won't care, and good for them.
Roll over your average rootball wedge in a section of single track on a 26er with a 1.9. Then try it on a 2.3. Then try it on a 29er. Then try it on a 29plus. The evolution is actually pretty obvious.
There's also something to be said for those of us who will make this jump in order to go rigid, leaving suspension behind for good, and probably gears as well. Nothing before now has really been so conducive to rigid single speeding as a 3.0 which has just enough cush and loads of traction not the steep stuff. That Trek Stache can be set up single. So can the original 29plus, the Krampus. So I think you'll see more of that - people taking advantage of the opportunity to abandon those shifty and movey bits that never seem to work right since the ramifications of that are now not so bonejarring and difficult. And again, good for them.
But also, and here's my only actual unique point that you couldn't read elsewhere sooner and better: It's also about your penis.
Don't act like it's not.
This is a simple, male-dominated sport and the rationale of size matters is not unique or missing for us any more than it doesn't apply to monster trucks, or burritos, or the NFL.
And again, good for us.
I still can't figure out what it is I want to say about AJ. I didn't know him personally. What I did know about him came from snippets of conversation with Qwadsworth, online interviews, and reading his blog. So it's a little difficult to know what to write about a person who - though you share a community of like-minded, unique, awesome people - you've never actually met.
I went back this morning and read some more of his blog, and watched his interviews on dirtwire, and generally felt terrible about the loss of a guy who, though I never got the chance to meet, I have some sense of his person that is, admittedly, impossible for me to actually have. So there it is: despite having no actual bond with the guy, I feel one anyway.
I believe today in a generation of relentless, connected people that this is one measure of a great person: that you will be remembered and cherished by people who you didn't even know long after you're gone.
Words can do that. And AJ is more than capable of speaking for himself, so I guess I'll trail off now, go ride my singlespeed for a couple of hours, and let him:
For fear of beginning to sound like a Mike Doughty fanblogger (which I am) I'll allow that one to speak for itself and instead just dive into the heart of the matter:
I'm in L.A. for a stretch this week, THE COAST, brah, consuming water, wearing organic sandals, sneering, yelling into my bluetooth earpiece, and generally contributing my fair share to the greatest drought of water and reality that the modern generation has ever encountered.
But I'll be back, Thursday eve, likely quite parched, and ready for a fast, loose tour of the northside fringe in the pouring rain, departing from the Rancho Relaxo no earlier than 9 PM (because I'm west coast, brah.)