Yes, That is My Final Answer

08.10.2011 | 8:55 am

I’m headed toward Leadville today. Not exactly to Leadville, because we’re leaving after work and going halfway today; we’re staying in Grand Junction with my mom tonight.

But still. We’re packing and leaving today.

And that includes packing a bike. Either the Trek Superfly 100, or the Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er.

Which was not an easy decision, at all. And — I should have expected this — getting everyone’s opinions on what I should ride only made the question more complicated.

But — finally — I’ve picked a bike, and it’s ready to race. Here it is, at the top of Lambert Park, as I did a final-check ride yesterday afternoon after picking it up from Racer’s:


I’ll be riding the Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er. With a few important modifications.

Those of you who don’t get into self-absorbed bike geekery may want to stop reading now, because the rest of this post is all about why I selected this bike, along with what the spec is, what changes I made from the stock bike, and why.

It will be very self-absorbed, and maddeningly geeky.

IMG_3255.JPGWhat Has Changed

First off, this bike is no longer stock. I asked Racer to make some changes to this bike in order to make it be just a little bit more awesome.

The big one: it is now equipped with the new Shimano XTR. Specifically, the drivetrain and brakes are both now XTR.

Why XTR? Easy. I love it. Honestly.

The braking is just perfect. Great modulation, more than enough power for easy one-finger braking with no fade I ever noticed. For the first time since I have been a mountain biker, I have no wish list whatsoever for how my brakes could be better. These are it.

And the XTR shifting. Oh mercy. It’s just instant, and I can do any shift, under any circumstance (including hard climbing), as light and easy as you please. It’s like shifting on a road bike.

I tell you, XTR is just freakin’ elegant.

The next change? Wheels. I’ve put my Bontrager XXX Lite TLR Disc 29 wheels on. Mainly because they were already set up with the Shimano Ice Tech brake rotors, but also because I love these wheels; they’re strong, light, and stiff. And they have white spokes, which look super-cute with the frame.

And, just for those who are curious about things other people aren’t curious about: I’ve put a Selle Italia SLR saddle on (I use the SLR on all my bikes, both mountain and road), Time ATAC XS Carbon pedals, and Arundel Dave-O bottle cages.

Oh, and my answer to the all-important tire question? Fast Trak LK Control. I’ve been riding them with them since I got the Stumpy. They feel like they roll fast, but I’m still cornering without sliding.

Why the Stumpjumper?

Suppose you asked a couple of guys who are pretty well-respected for their cycling accomplishments what bike you should ride in Leadville: the full-suspension 29er, or the hardtail 29er.

And the guy who has won Leadville six times (that would be Dave Wiens), answers:


And then the guy who has won the Tour de France seven times and Leadville once, chimes in with this:


By the way, I was also planning on asking Levi Leipheimer his recommendation for what I should ride, but honestly, I was afraid to. That guy can just be mean sometimes. (Has anyone else ever noticed what an angry, aggressive person Levi Leipheimer is? That guy needs to seek help.)

And, while I was at it, I went ahead and ran a poll. Here’s what the results looked like:


Of course, my good friend Dean Cahow had an interesting alternative suggestion:


The idea has merit. (Shame it’s specifically forbidden by the rules.)

The Real Reason(s) I Went With The Stumjumper

All other reasons aside, if I wanted to ride the Superfly, I would have disregarded the poll. Would have disregarded Lance. Would have even disregarded Dave Wiens (though I would have prepared an excuse for how I must have misunderstood his reply for the next time I saw him).

But I want to ride the Stumpjumper.

From the very first time I rode that bike, it felt right. I feel good on it. I feel fast on it. I feel comfortable on it. I feel in control of it, and often I don’t think of it at all.

The Stumpy feels fast (I think I may have mentioned that already). Lively.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a really beautiful bike, either.


I feel like a better climber on it, and feel like I’m at least not a terrible descender on it (for me, “not a terrible descender” is as good as it gets).

I just really, really, really love this bike.

And in general, It’s the bike I found myself choosing to ride. Which I think may be the metric that matters most.

In addition, there were these factors that came into play:

  • It has two bottle cages. I just don’t want to wear a Camelbak during this race. And while a single bottle cage might be enough, it also might not.
  • It’s light. This is a very light bike on a course with a lot of climbing. I think that might be worth a few minutes, and that few minutes is very likely going to be very important to me as I get near the finish line.
  • I’m hardtail-accustomed: When was the last time I had a full-suspension bike? Back in 2002, I think, when Gary Fisher made the Sugar. Nine years is a lot of time, and my riding technique has definitely hardened while riding a hardtail. Which is not the same as saying I will never become a FS rider, just that I don’t think my riding style takes advantage of suspension yet.

Starting tomorrow, plan on short, frequent posts here as The Hammer and I get into Leadville. And you might want to consider following me on Twitter, too.


  1. Comment by OlyOop | 08.10.2011 | 9:07 am

    I actually like these geeky posts more than any of the others. After all, you’re living my fantasy life, so you may as well be riding and describing some fantasy bikes.

    So how much does the converted Stumpy weigh?

  2. Comment by skippy | 08.10.2011 | 9:16 am

    Already on Twitter/skippydetour enjoying your comments but you will have to be funnier than Horner as i am missing his Race reports .
    Good luck with the race !

  3. Comment by Chris | 08.10.2011 | 9:19 am

    Also curious about the weight.

    You said Specialized is loaning you this bike, hope you got a ‘I get to keep it clause’ for breaking 9 hours on it…

  4. Comment by Jacob | 08.10.2011 | 9:39 am

    I’m assuming the Leipheimer comment is sarcasm. I don’t follow the sport closely enough to know their personalities except for what gets mentioned during the races. I get the impression that Cavendish may come across a little arrogant, but that’s about it.

    For all I know, Leipheimer is the Ty Cobb of professional cycling. Ty Cobb was a huge jerk, by the way.

    Have you ever looked into that guy’s eyes? It’s like looking into the eyes of a demon. – FC

  5. Comment by MattC | 08.10.2011 | 9:52 am

    OK…so…uhm, being as you won’t be needing your Superfly 100 anymore after this race (cuz you WILL be buying the Stumpy quite obviously)..what size frame is it? Maybe we can do that little contest all over again…care to lose some MORE weight?

    I’ll get the cookie materials ready…

    I’ll be anxiously awaiting your rockin’ sub-9 post. I have no doubts. You are ready. Break a leg n all that…oh wait, that’s a show-biz good luck wish, isn’t it? Seems kind’a not right for cycling…tho might be fine for Stanley Tucci if HE racing the LT100.

  6. Comment by roan | 08.10.2011 | 10:04 am

    Predictions, predictions…8:16:32(pulled this out of my random selector hat)…and The Hammer will be holding back so they finish together.
    L.A. will show, he is now in 3rd, at least he will give it a shot.

  7. Comment by Fat Cathy | 08.10.2011 | 10:09 am

    Good Luck! Hope you have a great time and, most importantly, keep the rubber side down!

  8. Comment by Ripkenfan | 08.10.2011 | 10:18 am

    I also have a weight question but not about the bike. Did you keep your weight near the 158, your racing weight. We want to know you have every chance to pull off that sub-9hrs this year. Good luck!

    157.5 this AM. – FC

  9. Comment by mark | 08.10.2011 | 10:21 am

    “I don’t think my riding style currently takes advantage of suspension yet.”

    The fact you were faster descending on the hardtail seems to confirm this.

    I can’t believe I wrote such a badly-constructed sentence. Fixed. – FC

  10. Comment by Jenn | 08.10.2011 | 10:38 am

    “And they have white spokes, which look super-cute with the frame.”

    Super-cute. That just absolutely cracked me up.

  11. Comment by SteveS | 08.10.2011 | 10:44 am

    Nice choice. And double bonus: you can carry two water bottles with the Stumpjumper.

  12. Comment by nh_joe | 08.10.2011 | 11:14 am

    That is one sexy bike. The spokes match the frame…I love it. Let’s make a bet – if I beat you at Leadville, can I keep the bike?

  13. Comment by BigShorty | 08.10.2011 | 11:28 am

    Safe travels…save the “go fast” for Saturday!

  14. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 08.10.2011 | 11:31 am

    Good choice. Now go crush those 104 miles.

  15. Comment by Ted | 08.10.2011 | 11:31 am

    I predict a finishing time of 8:52. However, lose the water bottles and go with a camelbak. It serves as a great spine protector if you over-cook a corner and roll down a rock garden.

  16. Comment by Liz | 08.10.2011 | 11:36 am

    Matt C is right. You won’t be needing that Superfly, so time for another contest!

    Best wishes to Elden, Lisa and all the other contestants in Leadville this weekend. Can’t wait to read the recap.

  17. Comment by TomE | 08.10.2011 | 11:42 am

    Good luck at Leadville Fatty. Sorry to say that I will not be there to root you on at mile 92…that last little KILLER of an uphill (remember last year – FOF???). Our daughter is 6 months old (Zoe) and we have plans with her. Rock it out!!!

  18. Comment by Evelin B | 08.10.2011 | 11:45 am

    Best wishes for a fantastic ride!!! I predict 8:35!!!! Have fun and can’t wait to read your recap.

  19. Comment by Dan in Sac | 08.10.2011 | 11:54 am

    Glad you took my advice, exclusively, and went with the Stumper. Best o’ luck to the Fatties in Leadville.

    Dan in Sac- Six time 5k finisher

  20. Comment by Dripslobber | 08.10.2011 | 12:24 pm

    Sweet bike! I understand why you chose that one. Magical abilities! It stands straight up all by it’s self. I’ve gotta get one of those!

  21. Comment by Brandon | 08.10.2011 | 12:26 pm

    Go get a BIG BUCKLE!

  22. Comment by Owen | 08.10.2011 | 12:28 pm

    tubeless I presume? Bontrager rim strips and juice or stans?
    amazing your kickstand didn’t sink into the loose soil!

    good luck and I hope you have a blast while going sub 9

  23. Comment by Mikeonhisbike | 08.10.2011 | 12:33 pm

    “And they have white spokes, which look super-cute with the frame” Did you call your bike super-cute? I’m thinking “wicked awesome over the top gnarly” would be a more fitting description. Just my opinion though :) Good luck with the race. Draft Rebecca Rusch the entire way and you’ll do fine.

  24. Comment by atxcyclist | 08.10.2011 | 12:54 pm

    Dude, you’re going to kick the sh*t out of that sub-9 time by more than a few minutes. That is one sweet bike. Looking forward to the updates…

  25. Comment by jonw9 | 08.10.2011 | 1:43 pm

    I kind of feel betrayed. I was lamenting over racing my Singlefly or SF100 this weekend (Ore to Shore, not Leadville). I thought I made the right decision going with the gears and squish.

    Now I need to go home, throw the heavy bike in the garbage and hope the race organizers let me switch at packet pick-up!

  26. Comment by RedNBlondies | 08.10.2011 | 2:29 pm

    Yup, I quite agree, those white spokes are super-cute!!

    Good choice and good luck!

  27. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 08.10.2011 | 2:31 pm

    Hey pack the super fly up and send it my way. I’ll ride it :)

  28. Comment by The Hamer | 08.10.2011 | 2:43 pm

    I’m shocked. Gary Fisher is going to beat you. However, I agree with your choice. I love Specialized and two water bottle cages is HUGE! You should do a post with an open letter to all mtn bike manufacturers and tell them that one cage is not enough. One cage is lame. Camelbacks are lame.

    Best of luck.

  29. Comment by Patrick #4091 | 08.10.2011 | 2:59 pm

    Did one of your kids ask “Why can’t you take both?” I like the solution here, get your favourite bits of both and combine them into one epic bike.

    Smash that 9 hours Fatty!

  30. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 08.10.2011 | 3:56 pm

    How is the grand slam for Zambia challenge going?
    It looks like its dropped of the first page.

    Good Luck with Leadville !

  31. Comment by Kt | 08.10.2011 | 4:08 pm

    Goodluck Fatty and The Hammer!

  32. Comment by bikemike | 08.10.2011 | 4:10 pm

    Specialized was very happy with your choice on Facebook. Your product approval is far reaching and wide.

  33. Comment by ddcesar02 | 08.10.2011 | 4:19 pm

    Congratulations, but can you explain why the 29?
    Sorry but I can´t see the point. It looks like a horse, I have the comp in 26 and I can´t imagine how it could be better.

  34. Comment by Steve | 08.10.2011 | 6:35 pm

    Good choice. I ride the squishy version of the same bike (Epic 29er). I would have chosen any bike that can stand up on it’s own as your pictures show. How do they do it? Internal carbon fiber gyroscopes. Have fun! Race hard!

  35. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.10.2011 | 7:25 pm

    You will buy the stumpy.

  36. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 08.10.2011 | 10:44 pm

    Go Fatty! Have fun and keep the rubber side down, as they say.

  37. Comment by AK_Chick | 08.10.2011 | 10:50 pm

    Good Luck Elden and Lisa! At that weight, I can’t justify calling you Fatty. Can’t wait to read the recap. I’m thinking this is the year you go sub 9 too!

  38. Comment by bike shop croydon | 08.11.2011 | 4:36 am

    Hey pack the super fly up and send it my way. I’ll ride it :)

  39. Comment by Heather | 08.11.2011 | 4:54 am

    White spokes do look super cute :) good luck!!!

  40. Comment by Anonymous | 08.11.2011 | 5:54 am

    Link for Grand Slam for Zambia Bicycle Relief. Halfway home.

  41. Comment by Tyler G | 08.11.2011 | 11:00 am

    Good luck man…..Now I know why your happy that Leadville is this week, you can escape the dreadfull Levi leiphammer..(you like that) in your own backyard, I bet he was going to come deliver an arse whopping to you once he puts lays the leiphammer on LE Tour Of Utah…..Lucky your leaving town.

  42. Comment by JRR | 08.11.2011 | 12:16 pm

    I’m just glad the posts about the tough decision between two thousand dollar mountain bikes is over. The amount of jealousy you’ve put me thru the past couple of days could be classified as a human rights violation


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