Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gear review

For the past week and a half, I've been able to return to *some* biking and running. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've acquired a new bike and now also have a new pair of trail running shoes to comment on.

First the bike:
My new Motobecane Team Fly is very light and has some great components on it. Some of the highlights to include:
FSA Team issue carbon cranks with FSA MegaEXO External Bearing System
Shimano XTR Front and Rear Deraileurs and Shifters
Avid Elixir CR brakes
Vuelta Team Superlite wheels
Ritchey WCS Stem, Flatbar, Seatpost, and grips
RockShox Sid Race 100mm front fork

These are the main points, but one of the things I don't like about it is the Ultegra 9 sp cassette they put on it. It's a 12-27 and doesn't have the range of gears I'm used to. Easily enough corrected with a new SRAM PG990. The bike is VERY light and not having ridden a hardtail in a long while, I'm used to a slightly heavier and more active full suspension.
I've had this bike out on a couple of rides, but yesterday was the first real test on anything mildly technical or fast. I have to get used to the differences like the weight (or lack thereof) and the Rigid rear end. Now I REALLY can appreciate the reviews of FS bikes when people say that it "climbs like a hardtail." Most of the time, this is an exaggeration, but at least now I KNOW what that's supposed to feel like! :-)
Also, the Elixir brakes are very nice. Maybe even too nice for me and this bike. I don't need that much braking power, but the ease and range of adjustability are really sweet!
The Vuelta wheelset is seriously light, but the jury is still out as to their toughness. I"m keeping in mind the mtn bike mantra.... "Light, Strong, Cheap. Pick two." We'll see.
The bike handles well enough, but the head angle is quite different from the Giant Anthem I've been riding. The Sid Race fork is 100mm of SMOOTH travel and has a lockout, but I haven't found the need to use it yet as it's not too active.
I'm not really in good biking shape yet, but I'm amazed at the ease at which I'm heading up hills already. This bike came with the skinny Kenda Klimaxx 1.9 tires which are ok, but I'll be replacing them soon with the Maxxis Ignitor 2.1. Also, on flats, despite the rear cassette/gear ratio, I'm able to hold 19-22 mph for a few miles. Haven't had this on any long flat sections yet, but it's very light and pedals easily.
The differences I'm feeling between this hartail and my past FS bikes are really noticeable. The bike is so much more responsive when cranking under load. Not at all squishy. The lightness allows it to get up to speed much quicker than I'm used to as well. One downside is that it's less stable on fast descents and around cornering hard requires different weight distribution.

Now for the Shoes:
Although I've been a Montrail and Vasque fan for a while, I got these Brooks Cascadias at a locally owned store. The owner, Alan Culpepper is a super nice and helpful guy. He's also quite the impressive runner with a very competitive history.
He was showing me some new laces that he plans to start selling soon. When I asked if I could buy a pair from him, he offered to give me a pair to test and give him my opinion.
The shoes fit great and are super comfortable. This is often the case when one tries then buys shoes, but doesn't always stay true when running the trails in them. Fortunately, this shoe feels even better running trails than it does in casual wear.
It weighs and fits like a road shoe but has enough support to handle rocky trails. The mid-sole is very cushiony but that's fine for me. Taller and heavier runners might not like it because it doesn't have as low of a profile as many other trail shoes out there and it may feel squishy to them. Works for me though. The shoes also have aggressive traction, but the lugs feel almost too soft. I hope they're durable. I've had shoes that lugs broke off on rocks before so more miles and trails will be the judge on this.

The laces are a very cool concept. They're elastic and designed to be strung, tied once and that's it. From then on, the idea is to slip them on and off. The elasticity is supposed to keep them snug while allowing for foot expansion and flexing while running. Great concept and I'm sure it'll work, but finding that "sweet spot" between too tight and too loose is hard. The laces are a little difficult to run through some shoes, but once they're in, they stay put! I'll have more info on them later when they're for sale.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Train Hard, Win Easy.

I saw this video on Scott Jurek's blog and wanted to repost it here. It really makes me feel ashamed for my attitude towards running. It really is a luxury for me, but one that I feel I need. Now I just need to stop taking so much for granted and try to focus on doing my best with what I've got.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Back on the trails

t's been a little over 4 weeks since my Arthroscopy and I don't think I could've asked for a better outcome. I've been continuing to see Dr. Jeremy Rodgers with the Colorado Sports Chiropractic Center and he's had me doing progressive stretching and strengthening for it and the knee has responded well.
Sunday, I was able to get in a 3 mile mountain run followed by another 4 mile bike ride also with some sustained climbs and decents. Afterward, the knee felt fine.
Yesterday, I did a 5 mile ride close to the house on some trails and although it still feels weak, the knee responded well again. I think I'll try another 3 mile trail run today on some easy trails at slow pace.
This is pretty exciting for me, but I want to keep it under control so I don't re-injure anything or undo any progress. Still, it feels good to be back on the trails!

Currently, I still have my Giant Anthem which will continue to be my full suspension race bike when the trails call for a FS, but I now have this SUPER LIGHT weight baby in my stable for some faster things when climbing fire roads and smoother single track are called for. (more pics here) WITH pedals and computer, it's still 19 lbs!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Not worth the chair you're sitting on!

Lance has some criticism for one of his critics!