Since I last described my ride this year a few things have changed...some have made the bike weight less and some made it gain a few. After all the mods, the bike settled in at a svelte 21.5 lbs.
1. I picked up a second Top Fuel 9.9so I can have one strictly for racing. Being able to race and ride/train on the same bike is extremely helpful. Thanks Trek and Rochester Cycling and Fitness!
2. I have settled in on a Rocket Ron 2.25 front tire and a Racing Ralph 2.1 rear tire. So far these tires have handled all the conditions, especially the sandboxes, really well.
3. The DT swiss carbon shock was swapped out for an RP23....imperative for racing this bike in my opinion.
4. MOST notable is the change from i9 wheels to the new Bontrager Race XXX lite carbon wheels. This was a tough decision because the bike gained over 1/3lb with these wheels. That said, I have never been one to compromise durability and performance for weight. The XXX aren't heavy by any means at 1420g w/out tubeless rim strips, but they aren't a 1325g wheelset like the i9s.
5. Switched back to XTR rotors because the new wheels are centerlock, and I wasn't happy with the breaking power of the hope floating rotor.
6. I pulled my front lockout of the bike. I almost never used it so I figured why keep it on there=)
This bike is simply amazing. A teammate of mine, Dan (won 24 of afton solo last year), test ride the bike and he described it is as "cheating". He know is the proud owner of one. I don't know if I would take it that far, but ... =) To be perfectly honest, I was pursuing a hardtail as a second race bike but after riding and racing a few times on this speedster, I though better of it and doubled my pleasure.
Probably the two main things I notice over other bikes I have ridden (from various manufacturers) are the resistance to pedal induced lateral flex and the ability of the rear suspension to track the ground when braking. With the platform off it is almost impossible skid.
The wheel choice may seem odd to some given the weight "gain", but I think stiffness and robustness are more important than a few grams. The descending performance of the XXX lites is the best I have ridden, and on a course like Afton being able to rail corners with the bike is imperative. The wheels are also supposed to be pretty tough....I will evaluate that when the season is over, but so far so good=)
This doesn't seem to be a hot topic on blogs, but it is definitely a key piece to the racing puzzle. Pre-race, I take Sport Leggs electrolyte pills 1 hour before the race. I have found that these keep the lactic acid down from the ferocious starts of mtbk races. I follow the is with a Gu brand energy gel (that the only brand I use) about 10-15 minutes later, and then again near the end of my warm up 15 minutes before the race start. I prefer the Gu with caffine for that little extra kick! During my warm up I drink Gu2O to stay hydrated and get a few more calories. I have tried other drink mixes but the light taste of the Gu2O is very easy on the stomach and provides just as many calories as more sugary drinks like gatorade.
During a typical 30 minute lap in a race (I have to adjust for courses w/ short laps like MNSCS #1) I try to get at least 1 bottle down per lap. However, I the fluid in the race bottles is not just Gu2O. I combine 1 electrolyte pill with 2 scoops of Gu2O in each bottle. This gets me a little calcium, which I have found is very key to keeping the cramping pings away. If you are a salty sweater like me, you may consider this mix. I also will take 1-2 Gu gels depending on how I am feeling..I use this to supplement the nearly 400 calories in Gu2O.
Finally, after the race, I am usually not hungry, but some amount of recovery calories are necessary. Velonews got me on to this, but I drink about 2 servings of chocolate milk. This goes down pretty easy, tastes great, is high calorie, and contains everything most of the recovery drink mixes do.
So that is it...all nutrition my secrets revealed=)
Next up racing wise is Buck Hill and the MNSCS #3, the Dirt Spanker.