The slide show will be immediately followed by an auction of my sponsored gear from the race (with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders). The gear to be auctioned includes:
- Giant XTC Carbon 69'er, with Stans wheelset and Sram groupset. Weighs about 10kg. Very good condition - only used in one race.
- Cane Creek suspension seatpost. Near new condition.
- XTR shifter (near new)
- XTR crankset (brand new)
- XTR derailleurs (near new)
- Easton Aerobars (very good condition)
- Misc Ground effect clothing (jacket, Montezumas long shorts, Median strip top, Half Pipes leggings)
- NoTubes sealant (unused!)
- Stans Crow 29" tyre (good condition)
How did my gear work over the big race?
Here's the loaded bike:
and the gear (unpacked) before the race:
My sponsors are shown in the links to the right - check those out for more info on the bike and clothes. Just remember that this is what worked for me in the 2008 GDR. You are different from me, and 2009 will be different from 2008.
Here's a list with some comments:
Bike: Giant XTC Carbon frame; Stans wheelset (ZTR355 rims, 29” front, with American Classic hub, 26” rear with Hope Pro2 hub, Crow tyres and NoTubes sealant), Sram gears; Truvativ Noir crankset; Ritchey WCS MTB forks, seat, seatpost & handlebar stem; Easton carbon handlebars & aerobars; Ergon grips & barends; Avid ultimate disc brakes; Shimano XTR pedals; Rear rack (an old mongreled front rack); beefy bottle cage; Cateye computer
- The bike worked great. It was designed to mitigate my weakness (road riding) and take advantage of my experience riding fully rigid bikes. I longed for suspension (usually rear) on about 6 occasions. It was very aerodynamic, very light, and rolled very well. The aerobars gave an extra couple of comfortable hand positions.
- The only mid-race maintanence was the replacement of the rear tyre at 960 miles and 1550 miles, chain oiling most days, and a good clean at 1550 miles (Absolute Bikes).
- The only problems were the loss of some small chainring bolts at about 1800 miles and the malfunction of the bike compter after the big storm a day from the finish. No punctures. No shifting problems. No component breakages. Rear tyre wear-and-tear was expected and planned for by posting replacements to Pinedale and Salida. I sent replacement chainrings and brake pads to Salida, but did not need them.
Bags: Frame bag sewn up from cordura off-cuts by Shona; Pacific 5ltr dry bags; Cactus prototype small backpack (15 years old)
- These all worked fine. Wore a small hole in one of the dry bags by the finish. A little extra capacity would have been handy and more compartments in the backpack.
Clothes: Ground Effect Shorts, legwarmers, tops, proto-type jacket, long-fingered gloves, short-fingered gel gloves, nylon overmitts, generic poloprop balaclava, couple of old thermal tops, light woolen top, polyprop longjohns, running shorts, LG shoe covers, socks, arm-warmers,
- I've been testing most of this stuff for years, so no real surprises - it worked very well. The Half Pipe leg warmers were surprisingly useful (wore them every day). The Ground Effect prototype jacket was perfect - it was designed to fit my stick-like figure with minimal flapping in windy conditions. The long sleeved Rock Lobster top kept the intense sun at bay. Woolen socks prevented foot fungii problems.
- The overmitts never got used. The shoe covers were only used once, so got posted home from Salida and were needed the very next day.
- One of the advantages of being old and crusty is that I had a drawer full off old, worn-out shorts, socks and gloves. I started with some of this old gear and threw it out over the first few days. This saved me the effort of doing washing until day five.
ACA Maps, cue-cards, facility summary
- The maps had me scratching my head once or twice, but I only got lost very briefly three times (in towns each time). Thanks to cousin Duncan for scanning & printing the cues.
Camera: Olympus 850 SW
- The 'S' stands for shock-proof. The 'W' for waterproof. Shona sewed a camera breast pocket into my tops, and bingo! - a sweet camera at the ready regardless of the conditions. Most of my pcs were taken without stopping. Thanks John.
MP3 player: $29 Dick Smith Electronics
- Cheap-as, and runs on a AAA battery. It had just over 3 hours of music on it, which all got listened to at least once a day from day five on. It also had a voice recorder which was handy to store some of my thoughts along the way.
Shoes: Louis Gaureau
- A nice pair of LG shoes, but not the top of the line model (didn't want the risk of a ratchet breaking). Reasonably comfy and very solid and dependable (and a good price too).
Helmet: Giro Pneumo
- An old favourite, this time with the visor. Worked fine.
Lights: Dinotte x2, Cateye rear, ankle reflector
- Great lights (thanks Gav) except during the big storm when water got into the battery pack (I'd been warned of this, but obviously didn't seal the pack well enough). Otherwise, they were very, very good.
Sleeping bag: MacPac Epic (down, 540gm)
Bivvy bag: Old Fairydown (very light, semi-breathable)
Pad: Closed cell foam cut to ¾ length & width (10mm thick)
- This was a very light-weight, minimalist camping set-up. Not comfortable, but good enough to get a few hours sleep in. I was lucky it didn't rain much and the temp never reached freezing. I camped 10 nights out of 19.
- Stood on my nice Adidas shades at the end of day one. Replaced them with a $15 pair in Lincoln. Lost my spectacles on about day three (I can live without them).
Liquid carriers: 3ltr bladder, 2ltr bladder, 800ml water bottle, misc sports drinks bottles
- This carrying capacity was fine (when it was used). Not sure if excess iodine contributed to digestive distress or not. We were all lucky that there was more surface water around than normal, and it was not super hot in New Mexico.
First-aid kit: All the normal stuff, plus some anti-biotics and stomach bug stuff (Thanks Dr Ruthie). Bought some ant-acid tabs along the way.
Hygiene kit: Sun-block, anti-bacterial wipes, toothbrush, chammy cream (Thanks Marilyn) or talc powder, etc
- A lot of the first aid stuff remained unused, but it's lght and compact and had the potential to save my bacon, so I didn't regret carrying it.
Tool kit: Allen keys, chain tool, tyre lever, tubes x2, pump, patch kit, oil
- Similar comment as above
Misc: Compass/thermometer, sun umbrella, cash, calling card, credit card, ID, ear plugs, shower caps, pen, travel lock, spoon, etc
- The compass came in handy during a pre-dawn start in the Great Divide Basin. The sun umbrella was a waste of space (but it might have been handy, really). I used one shower cap during a short downpour. Everything else was useful for obvious reasons.
Thoughts on bikes and fairings:
- You can spend a LOT of time deciding what type of bike to use. Eventually this becomes wasted time. If all you want to do is finish with a respectable time, any decent mountain bike will do the job. That said, it needs to be reliable and comfortable. If you can make it light as well, that's a bonus.
- WRT full-suspension vs hardtails vs fully rigid vs 29er vs single-speed - it comes down to using whatever tickles your fancy. The main thing is to have FAT tyres that you can run at cushy pressures. The next most important thing is a saddle that doesn't make you bleed by day five.
- In this type of race 29'er wheels are a slight advantage, unless you are running some really good suspension, in which case it's too close to call (imho).
- Having raced with a Zipper fairing a few times (and a rear fairing twice) I thought long and hard about using a front fairing. The time to make and test a MTB fairing was not available to me, so it came down to buying a Zipper again, or a motorcycle fairing. I decided the weight penalty and increased risk of over-heating counted too heavily against the small gains of improved aerodynamics (when racing at very low average speeds). I guess John Nobile proved me wrong (although I suspect he could have cleaned up even without his fairings). This race is loaded with 'individuals' - many of whom have bicycles that are extensions of their personalities. Proving the capability of the bike (as well as the body) to finish the GDR is part of the challenge that motivates many riders .