I've never been a tweaker when it comes to bikes, components, weight and geometry. That being said, I've been lucky enough to ride some of the best custom steel bikes hand built in Sonoma County and lately super-duper science fiction carbon fiber.The intrigue of talking about the latest and greatest lost it's appeal after my first couple of years racing. Now a days I just like to ask Glenn or Shane at NorCal and check out their latest dream machines. I began riding mountain bike in 1988 on a Stumpjumper that was too big for me and later "upgraded" to an REI Ponderosa with XT before buying an Ibis SS. After that came several Mojos and then a fiery affair with my Soulcraft. The last few years I've been reunited with Specialized and am now on my 2nd Epic. Whenever possible I've tried to buy XTR when building a new bike but have often settled for XT. We all know how well it works and for the price difference.
My first road bike was a Team Miyata with friction Dura Ace and downtube shifting that I began racing right away. A few years later I upgraded to a used Trek before I was honored when Leo Autuori built me a custom steel bike. This was the first bike that was new with a complete Dura Ace kit. These were the days when $500 was a lot for a set of wheels. If you ordered a Dura Ace kit you bought Dura Ace wheels. Before every bike came with Mavic Aksium wheeels cuz they knew you would then return to buy wheels that cost half the price of the bike. I was in love with my Autuori and my first carbon fork... until the fork snapped in half just above the headset and I ground my chin into the pavement. We were mile 80 into a 100+ ride with a large group that had headed out from Duncan and Nathan's place in Healdsburg, a great winter tradition. I was mid-pack on River Road when a small branch was kicked up ahead of me and found a home in my front wheel. Mountain bike reflexes caused me to quickly shift my weight back behind the saddle, if only slightly. The stick broke twelve spokes before settling in at the top of my 1" carbon steer Reynolds fork and snapped cleanly in half. My drop to the earth was so quick the brunt of my fall was on the back of my hand and my glasses! Amazingly no one else crashed around me and I hung out while waiting for a ride home. This was my call to upgrade to 1" 1/8 and a sweet Soulcraft.. I had never been fit on a road bike, or mtn. and just road them, trusting they would fit. For my current Tri Cross and Tarmac I was fitted by Jeff at NorCal and made some significant adjustments. What a pleasure to drop 5 lbs. on my road bike, improve my fit and find some long-lost fitness. Last year was a blast, and this year...we'll see.
So what bike should you ride?
Let me start by saying that there has been a first place finisher on a road bike, a mountain bike and of course a cross bike. I've ridden all three but this year I'll be on my Specialized S Works Tri Cross
...again.Shane,Glenn and Duncan are on this years version, Crux, and love it! NorCal/Bike Peddler
have been huge in helping me upgrade my bikes the last couple of years and my cross bike is my dream bike. NorCal is the underwriting sponsor for this years Hoppers so stop by to get your bike dialed in, new tires and clothes, a new bike if you need one, and all your Grasshopper needs. They will also be donating product that will be raffled off at each event. When I make specific suggestions for tires and equipment, clothing and shoes, simply mention that you read about it on this blog and you will get a 15% discount. How sweet is that!? Chances are you'll be buying new gear anyways, so I'll give you some suggestions for each ride to make it simple. Gear is personal and there's 100 ways to skin a cat but we're not talkin' taxidermy we're talkin' Hoppers, and some things work better than others, period.
It's time for a new drive train so I'm going as big as possible in the back with a Red 11-28. The S Works cranks are 36-48 so it's a sweet gear. Some might like the gear options of a triple but with 10 speed you can almost get the same range. For the Super Sweetwater it's likely I'll put on a 10 spd. mtn cassette with an XX deraileur for an even better climbing gear. Another upgrade for this year will be Specialized stem and carbon bars. I've been enjoying the carbon bars with flat top on my Tarmac Pro so much I'm going to set up my cross bike the same way. Last years Old Caz Hopper was my first ride on tubeless tires, Hutchinson Piranha. What a ride! I've always run tubes and 100 psi to avoid flats. The descending and bumpy roads on 60 psi 32c tires is bliss! If you don't have the option of riding a cross bike and will be setting up your road bike or mtb....stay tuned and I'll give you some suggestions. Happy trails, Mig