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.
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.