Only 20 days until Gary Rides WC2C…
Gary is fundraising for the Cots for Tots appeal on Just Giving, any donations are appreciated!
I got my big drop of Bontrager kit for the WC2C the other day. It feels ever so real now to be unpacking the very kit I’m going to be wearing and using! I’ve been training in various pieces throughout the winter and spring, and the Bontrager name is propping up the Superfly in a big way too, so it’s proven stuff and I’m really confident and very pleased with it all. I’ve managed to get some snaps so here’s a bit of a nose at some of the key pieces.
Here’s ‘The Jersey’. I wanted something pretty striking for the WC2C but also clean cut and stylish. I saw the new Bontrager Retro race jerseys and absolutely had to have them, in blue to match my Superfly of course! White might be a bit of silly choice for a 200 mile hack across Wales in the mud and rain, but what the hell! The cut and features of the Bontrager jerseys are lovely (I’ve been training in a different design), especially for the pretty modest price. Nice full length zips, luxurious fabrics, and quality gripper materials all make up for a pretty high-end, well cut jersey. And I’ve got a few of these to change into if I need to.
It’s sounds a bit weird, but one thing I’ve been properly agonising over was whether to ride in bibs or baggies. On the one hand, baggies have an extra risk of chaffing and bunching, on the other hand baggies have pockets and pockets can contain food and nibbles for easy access. There’s also the fact that the ‘lycra clad racer’ look doesn’t sit right with me for this challenge given its both amateur and charity status. Anyway, the decision was made so much easier when I got my hands on Bontrager’s Rhythm shorts. These baggies are made from a super soft, comfortable material which I have no worries about riding for the long haul. I did the 12 hours of Bristol Bike Fest in them without any qualms. So there, I’m breaking convention and riding this in baggies.
If there’s one thing you get through lots of in endurance riding is gloves. You can reach the lowest of the low, and a fresh pair of gloves can be an incredible tonic. Perhaps a bit ambitiously, I’ve got some RL Fusion GelFoam fingerless gloves in case it’s really hot. Otherwise it’s full fingered gloves in the form of Bontrager’s Rhythm range again. A light-weight glove with full mesh back mean they should keep my hands reasonably cool, and if it’s wet, not take on too much water! I’ve been riding the Rhythm gloves all year and they’re a good fit with no bunching or rubbing issues to report. Again, I rode the 12 hours of Bike Fest in a single pair without a single niggle or rub.
When it became apparent I’d be riding with Bontrager, I did have reservations about the shoes. I’d reviewed the RXL MTB shoe for Cyclist No.1 and while it was a good shoe, there were some personal compatibility issues and I found them a little unforgiving. Trek assured me the shoes were all new and that I should definitely give them a try.
I’ve been training in the non-carbon soled RL MTB shoe and I’ve been suitably impressed by it’s comfort and durability. The photo below was taken recently, the shoes having done over 4,000km, not bad!
I’ve also got the new RXL MTB shoe which I’ve sort of been saving for the big day. Sticking road miles on them just to make sure they’re broken in but also offering up a nice treat on the big day of a posh new shoe. They’re a huge improvement over the outgoing RXL. The slippy heel cup has been sorted, and the inForm insoles are now more forgiving and are moldable for a semi-custom fit. The same super stiff carbon sole is present so the power delivery and weight is good as before. Despite trying to keep them ‘nice’, I crashed on the road dodging a wayward car and managed to rip one of the buckles off in the process. The good thing about these is that the buckles are replaceable and Trek actually carry spares, great!
You’ve probably seen it in all the photos but I’ve also been riding in Bontrager’s great MTB helmet, the Lithos. Again, I’ve worn one for about 4,000km and it’s still in amazing condition (albeit a bit stinky). I’ve got a fresh new one in the for the ride though thank goodness, but to be honest, a decent clean of the pads and a good wipe out and it would be good to go. The fit has been great, and it’s another survivor of the Bristol Bike Fest 12 hour.
I also had a drop of Bontrager tyres. I’ve been riding and raving about the 29-1 2.2 Team Issue tyres that came with the Superfly, but I suspect it might not hurt to run something a little bit more all-weather for the WC2C. The 29-2 tyres look as if they’ll be almost as fast although but offer up a bit more soggy terrain grip, they look like they’ll clear the mud quickly too. Their 2.1 carcass is going to lose me a bit of cushion in the rough stuff though.
I’ve (well Richard Fox has, more in a later blog) also blown these up with Bontrager’s tubeless rim strips to take advantage of the tubeless ready Bontrager RL wheels and tyres. According to Rich they “went up a treat” and he was suitably impressed with it as a tubeless system. He reckons I’ve lost a fair bit of weight and I should be able to keep tyre pressures desirably low without the risk of punctures. I have no idea what I’m going to make of the 29-2 tyres but I’d be more nervous about it if I was planning to race an enduro on them where I’d want to know their every handling characteristic inside out.
I’ve also got some 29-Mud tyres. I’m not expecting to need them but if it’s atrociously wet and I’m struggling around mid-wales, I figured it might not hurt to have the option and security of running them—I was adamant I wouldn’t need mud tyres when I 24-soloed, and ended up buying a pair of these mid-race—so I’m packing them.
The 29-2 tyres blown up tubeless on the Bontrager RL wheels…
There’s a whole myriad of other Bontrager kit I’m using, and it’s a testament to how good it all is as there’s too much to mention, I’ve had no grumbles with it, and it’s basically underpinning so much of this challenge. Bontrager padded shorts and base layers all go unseen but are essential. And on the bike itself, if it’s not the shocks or groupset, is all Bontrager!