A Moderately Special Note from Fatty: Usually, I try to keep The Fat Cyclist from being too bike-geeky of a blog. Today, though, it’s all about the hardware. For those of you who don’t ride at all, or just ride your bikes without obsessing about gear, you have both my apology (for what is about to follow) and my admiration (for keeping it simple and not ratholing into the dark underbelly of the cycling industry: bike porn).
This Saturday, I’ll be racing the Leadville 100 for the tenth time. For the first time in a long time, I’m light and fast. I really, really, really want to turn in a fast time. In fact, I’ll be trying hard for under nine hours.
There’s a big chunk of me, though, that says, "You haven’t ever been able to do this race in under nine hours. Why would you be able to now?"
My response to this internal skeptic is: "Now I have the Weapon of Choice."
Philosophy of the Weapon of Choice
I do not need to be particularly comfortable when I race the Leadville 100; I have demonstrated that I am capable of suffering all day. However, on a course that has 12,000 feet of climbing and is all about 9500 feet, I do need a bike that is light. And with a course that is fairly non-technical, with lots of open rolling, I need a bike that can build and hold momentum.
This ought to do nicely:
Let’s Get Specific
OK, so you can see it’s a Fisher Paragon. (Or, since I still haven’t replaced the broken camera and am therefore still using the camera in my phone, maybe you can’t see it’s a Fisher Paragon. Sorry!)
But I’ve made a few changes.
First off, I had Racer of Racers Cycle Service build me a lighter set of wheels. This is the first change anyone who wants a faster bike has to make. Less rotating weight = faster bike. Racer built me wheels using DT Swiss 240s hubs and Bontrager Race Lite Disc rims. He also set my wheels up with Stan’s Notubes, which is a crazy combination of an airtight rimstrip and some liquid latex in your tires. Fewer flats, and a lighter wheel. I’ve had Stan’s before and did not have a great experience with it, so am a little bit nervous about this part of the whole setup. But if you can’t trust your mechanic, who can you trust, right?
Maxxis Igniter tires round out the wheelsets.
Let’s Get Sexy
Without a doubt, the sexiest upgrade I’ve made to my bike are the Magura Marta SL disc brakes. I sometimes just go out to my garage and look at those discs. They’re things of beauty, I tell you. Oh, and they’re also really light.
Coming in at second place in the sexy upgrade category is the new cockpit:
Lots is going on here. The stem: Easton EA70. The handlebar: Easton MonkeyLite SL. The shifters: SRAM X0. All these changes probably bought me at least an ounce and a half. Easily.
And coming in third for the Sexiest Upgrade contest: the Bontrager Carbon seatpost. It’s sexy, but you know, there’s nothing in the world that’s going to change the fact that it’s just a seatpost.
Let’s Get Wacky
Here’s the part I’ve been saving up, the part that changes my Paragon from a bike into a weapon. Check it out:
I’m guessing some people immediately noticed the boldness of what I have done here, while some of you have no idea how this front end is any different from any MTB front end. For those of you who are not so geeky as to notice what I’ve done, here’s a hint:
I replaced the suspension fork with a carbon fiber fork: a Bontrager Race Lite.
Yeah, I’m racing Leadville fully rigid.
Because it saved me about 1.5 pounds, first of all. And the course isn’t that technical. And, as I mentioned before, I don’t mind suffering a little bit. It’ll be good for me.
Oh, I’ve done more. Consider:
- XTR Cassette
- SRAM XO Rear derailleur
- A yard of duct tape wrapped around the seatpost
- Oh, and one other very, very important thing:
Click for larger image
What It All Means
Racer has built me the lightest, climbiest 29"-wheeled bike I could ever hope for: 22.5lbs. I took it out for a four-hour shakedown ride last Saturday, and it’s a climber’s dream. Then I took it out this morning on Hog’s Hollow and got a little more comfortable with downhilling on a fully rigid bike.
This bike has the potential to either deliver me the best time at Leadville I’ve ever had, or to rattle my brains out by mile 60.
I can hardly wait to find out which happens.