Thursday, March 31, 2011


The "super training caravan" hit a speedbump yesterday. This week thus far has been another good one for training, but I hit the wall yesterday after work. Around 5pm I could barely hold my head up, and found myself just staring into space. It wasn't a result of training, but moreso of accumulated stress and work. Sometimes real life gives just as much, or even more, training stress than training does, and it showed up knocking at my door yesterday. I was in bed by 8:30pm and asleep shortly after. I woke this morning at 4am for work and still felt tired. Looks like an easy day might be in order with a couple naps snuck in there for good measure. In other news... I got a 29er! Let me say it again because it feels so good-I got a new 29er!!!!! I've been working on selling some of my bikes lately because, simply put, I have too many. I love all of them, but there is a point when enough becomes enough. Maybe one day I'll be able to have a garage in which to put all the bikes I desire, but now ain't that time. Anyway, I was able to sell a bike and get the new 29er. I know that doesn't sound like I'm making progress on getting fewer bikes, but I was able to sell the bike, buy the new 29er (for a ridiculous killer price thanks to my relationship with Campus Bicycle in Stony Brook-thanks guys!) I'll sell more bikes in the next couple weeks, and get closer to my goal of having some extra $$ and fewer bikes. I have to say that the 29er has come a long way. My first proper mountain bike (last year), was an older, '07 Gary Fisher X-Caliber built up as a rigid singlespeed I used just for fun and in the snow. I swapped out the rigid fork for a Reba Rock Shox fork, bought some gears and shifters, and made it into a race bike for my first XTERRA in August of last year. It was heavy and clunky, didn't handle all that well, and had sub par components, but it got me the mountain biking bug, and for all means and purposes raced well. It worked, but if I was going to take this XTERRA thing seriously, I was gonna need a better bike. Anne and I went to Wales in October and she took me to the Afan Forrest Mountain Bike center. So far this is my favorite trail system I've ever ridden. Loved it! Anyway, I rented a 26inch wheeled bike and felt that it fit my riding style much better. I could ride it more aggressively, it handled like a Ferrari, and I loved the accellerational characteristics. When I got home I decided to sell my 29er and buy a solid 26er race bike. I decided on the Trek 8000 and didn't look back. I raced a 6 hour race on it, came in fourth, and thought I'd discovered fire. I thought it was hands down quicker than any 29er, and that in general 29 inch wheels were just a fad. I fashioned myself as "old school" (kinda ridiculous given the fact that I'd only been mtb'ing for like 5 months!), and vowed to stick with the 26's. Until yesterday... Blown away is the best way to describe how I feel about my new bike, a Trek Fisher Collection Paragon. The first thing I noticed when I picked it up (literally) was how much lighter it was than my last 29er. It actually rivals my road bike in weight! Not like I'm riding anything ultra light on the road, but still, a HUGE 29er almost as light as my road bike!!! Awesome! I had to swap out some parts to get it down to it's current weight, and with race wheels it should weigh in aroundd 21lbs. Unreal for an aluminum bike... Regardless of the weight, which means little of the ride sucks, I couldn't wait to get it out on the trails. Yesterday was the test. I managed about 2 hours and ended with a huge smile on my face. I started off a little clumsy, but once I got through the difference in handling, which is very slight, I had one of the best rides I've had in a while. Smooth, fast, and efficient are probably the best words I can use to describe the ride. My heart rate remained relatively low (average of 138 for a loop that usually sees me in the 140's on my 26inch wheels at a similar pace), and my overall time for the distance covered was almost 5 minutes less! I'm not saying it's a miricle bike that made me faster, but the overall impression of this bike is that it's going to take me further, faster, and with less effort. Still, the biggest, and most important difference for me involving this bike is the fact that my back did not hurt AT ALL after the ride. With a lot of short and punchy climbs, rocks, and roots throughout the trail, BOTH of my 26 inch bikes would leave me with a sore back on any ride over 2 hours. With the 29er, I didn't even notice my back-just the legs, where effort should be felt. It could be a better fit, better shock absorbing characteristics of the bike, or better position when climbing, but whatever it is, I'm sold on it. All told, I'm a 29er guy all the way now. With the better geometry and better components, I don't see any need to stick with my 26inch wheels. Head to head, I would imagine that there are more advantages to riding a well designed and outfitted 29er than there are disadvantages. I'll keep updates on the bike coming...

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