Monday, April 21, 2008
Sea Otter (11th in XC, ~ 18th ST) - More New Gear
Sea Otter is a huge scale event. Like an outdoor Interbike with races and demos going on all around you, road, downhill, slalom, bmx, XC, etc. It was cool to visit the booths and try out new product. Our team continues to get our bikes built up with the correct parts and work out the kinks. One thing I am very happy with are the Kenda tires. I was stoked with the Dred Head in Nova and the Small Blocks at Old Pueblo, my teammates used the Short Trackers in the XC at Sea Otter (and did really well, Amanda 7th, Robert 22nd), I went with my trusted Karmas. So, I have a good selection of fast tires. If in doubt, or if there are too many things to think about, the Karma will be my tire of choice. It hooked up well in the loose corners and was fast on the paved section (In XC I went from the back of the pack to 9th on the pavement start and felt like I hadn't done any work). This week I had a new 100mm fork which (after breaking it in, in the ST) actually worked great (absolutely wonderfully in fact) in the XC. I only have one right now, they are hard to get a hold of so I swap forks every time I swap bikes. The handling is so nice now, I never lost the front end and never went down (my issues while running the 80mm fork). I raced the carbon Racer-X for the first time in the ST and the bike was awesome, it went uphill like the hardtail but soaked up the studder bumps. The rear shock was impressive. I had a great start, going straight up to the front group, but when I hit the first downhill I didn't have a rear brake, the actuator part of the handle was disengaged from the rest of the brake. I must have locked bars with someone in (or soon after) the start. I rode safe, not all out. With the XC race coming up and my motivation zapped, I spent my energy fooling around with the settings on the new fork, it acted differently on every lap, and finding gears that would work (for some reason my shifting was still a mess). Poor Todd was yelling at me to get going, not having any idea what was going on. I was out there in my own world, at first I was just mad, then I started having fun playing with a new bike, still amazed that it did the power climbs so well, especially when I went off the beaten path. I didn't get to test it on the downhills since I was trying to inch my way through the off camber, loose sections with only a front brake and the front fork was still in the "getting dialed in" process. I think I finished ~ 18th, I was pulled at 2 laps to go. Another new items this week was the Gel Bot water bottle. I highly recommend this method of gel and drink. I weighed the bottles and they are (obviously) a little heavier than a normal bottle, but so much easier than any anything else. You could easily pound the whole shot, but I just had a bit every time I took a drink. I like the liquid delivery too, big solid mouth, easy to open and close with a nice rubber area (no hard plastic to bite on). There is no slop in the valve, no dribble down my face. The grip area on the bottle makes it easy to pull out and hang on to. I really hate riding with new stuff in a big race, but I was excited that I decided to use these bottles; when other girls were fumbling with flasks and gel packets I could pass. I had a lot of passing to do after going from 9th to almost dead last 5 minutes into the XC race when my chain wrapped itself around my cassette. I worked my way back up to 12th after the first lap, but was pretty worn out from riding alone in the wind (and from all the passing) so was only able to get one more spot on the second lap. I was very happy with my start. I lined up last row. They only called up the top 10 then "all other racers", I didn't expect that. I worked my way to the front and by minute 5 I was in 9th and ready to ride there. but oh well... I think I need to go back to the long cage rear derailleur that I have always used (instead of a mid cage) if I want to be able to use the big and big gear combo and not wrap my chain when in the smallest cogs. (If anyone has any advice in this area please send it. And don't say not to use big and big, I gave it an honest try and ended up with a bent derailleur hanger and twisted chain after the first couple races).