Sunday, November 27, 2011

Buying speed

Its been a humbling experience moving to Colorado. Even when you're dialed on your riding and fitness, you are just rabbits for the pros and "faster than you" guys who seem to have endless amounts of time to ride. At 6" and somewhere between 185 and 200, I'll never be a fast climber but you still gotta get yourself up before you can get down.

Since I've moved here my bikes have gotten more and more travel and fatter and fatter. My current "all mountain" bike is in the 31.5 pound range, coil rear shock and tires that look like they are off a motocross bike. Needless to say, I don't enter many cross country races on it, but when the trails turn down or I get a chance to do lift service at a resort it shines.

Enter my latest favorite bike....
From New Niner Jet9 RDO

I built this bike up to be light(ish) and fast. I wanted a bike that I could ride on the road or bike path to the trail, then rip the trails then ride back home. Hand selected parts that are reasonably light, decent price but durable were picked and assembled. I built it up a couple weeks ago and then headed out to Hall Ranch, a ride that I've done tons of times for a shake down ride. I didn't ride overly hard, although I will admit to a nice dose of new bike adrenaline. I have no fitness, maybe negative fitness, at the moment but was quite surprised to see the results when I got home and dumped my GPS data.

4 personal records and another 2nd best time. Hmmm....Gotta just be the new bike excitement and gorgeous weather. Encouraging, but I must have been going harder than I thought.

On to the next ride...a revisit to the ride above, but this time with the intention of riding at a reasonable, conversational type pace. And the results...

Even faster on the way up. I was actually faster on the loop as well, but I used both my iPhone and my Garmin Edge 500 so it says "2nd best time", but its really 3 more personal records on this trail that I've ridden a lot. Also of note is that I've had a terrible head cold that I've just barely started recovering from. I think with a determined effort with lungs that are cooperating, I could smash these marks. These marks are beating my previous really hard efforts without any real fitness and without really going hard.

And then today, I did a different ride just for further comparison. This is a trail that has a 4.5 - 5 mile climb that is a mix of smooth and fast and rocky chunk. I did this climb a lot the last couple of seasons getting ready for my bigger events, so I've had a lot of results tracked on this climb.

Again today's ride was at a reasonable pace. Sure I went into the pain cave a couple of times, but I was never going deep into the red. The trail today was busy, but on the way up just about everyone yielded pretty well. There were a few times that I did have to come to a complete stop as descenders skidded towards me but overall I just kept powering up. The bigger shock was that I posted my 2nd fastest descent on record despite yielding an estimated 30+ times on the way down. Still puzzled at how that happened. I shaved almost 4 full minutes off my previous best time.

So what is the big difference? Is it the 29" wheels versus the 26" wheels? Is it a Horst Link suspension versus a CVA suspension? Is it aggressive 2.3 tires versus lighter, faster rolling 2.2s? Is it strictly a 6 pound weight savings advantage?

I honestly don't know, but there is obviously a large quantifiable difference between my two bikes. As I get more and more rides in on the new bike the differences may become more clear, but I'm quite pleased with how big an impact this new bike has made.

Who says you can't buy fitness? Not me anymore. Now how do I buy more hours in the day....

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