Sunday, August 05, 2012

Stuff I've been using

With an off day today, I've got no riding to post about so I figured I'd post about some of the products I've been using on this trip. First and foremost, my bike! Back in March, Liza got me a new bike for my birthday. She was tired of me getting mechanicals in every race due to using 4 year old worn out components. My bike of choice was a 2012 Specialized Epic Evo 29er. That bike has been great from the second I got it. The first ride on it was the 3rd Snake Gap race and I didn't even have time to set up the suspension. Rode like a dream! Now I've had time to tweak the ample adjustments in the suspension and it rides perfect. The XO 1 x 10 drivetrain shifts crisp and quickly thanks to full derailleur housing instead of stops and exposed cable. The proprietary chainguide for the front chainring works well too. Only a couple of jammed chains there- mostly my fault. I wore out the Specialized Renegade tires in a couple of months. That is a shame because they are great tires and work well in a variety of conditions. After a month or so I had more Stan's showing through the sidewalls than rubber. Anyways- my Epic has proven to be the best bike I've had, Light (23lb), stiff when pedaling, and cushy when descending. I am not a sit and spin type of climber and this bike works perfect for standing in a big gear. Unlimited traction lets the rider keep moving up anything as long as they can turn over the cranks ( with a 34 T single up front this takes some legs!). I changed out the grips to some ODIs, swapped to my trusty Selle Italia SLR saddle, switched the front Roval wheel for my Stan's ZTR wheel, Installed a Cane Creek 11o headset, and swapped the tiny stock stem for a Deda Zero 110 mm to perfect the fit. The only nitpick I have is with the Rock Shox SID Brain fork. I'd rather be able to manually, on the fly lockout my fork instead of the Brain doing it. Definitely has taken some getting use to to preload the fork effectively when pumping or bunny hopping. 9.5 out of 10.
Another product I am using is a Camelbak Charge hydration pack. I really haven't liked using packs in the past. I can't stand the weight, the feel of something on my back moving around, or the way they get in the way of my jersey pockets. However, long rides require a lot of water so they are a neccessary evil. With both of my older models of hydration packs suffering some type of malady, I knew a new on had to happen. Reluctantly, I decided to pick one up. I picked up the charge not just because of it's light weight and silky fabric, but because I liked the color. I have used it every day now ( with the exception of road rides ) and am loving it. Plenty of pockets ( but not too many ) hold my CO2s, tube, Crank Bro's tool, a couple of Clif bars and gels. There is a small top pocket perfect for an I pod or cellphone, a large pocket that I stash the arm/leg warmers and vest, and an expandable "stuff hole" between the two compartments for more stuff. It holds 100 oz of water in a new bladder design ( to me ) that is head and shoulders above my old packs. The straps and waist belt are very thin and fit well, I can hardly notice it is there. My favorite feature however, are the two pockets on the waist strap. My camera fits perfectly in the right one, 2-3 gels in the left. Jersey pocket accessability problems taken care of! Only nitpick here is easily remedied with scissors and a lighter- the excess strap length. Someone buying a pack of this design is not going to need the straps to expand that far for it to fit them. I'll trim them soon though. I give this sucker a 9 out of 10.
More riding pics tomorrow- 401 in Crested Butte is up next! DH

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