Thursday, February 2, 2012

Season Wrap-up, Gear, & Looking Ahead

It was a pretty good year for me on the road and in cross. I'm still improving in both disciplines, which is always the goal. The season wrapped up with the KCA awards banquet, where I received best all around road racer and best overall cross racer awards for the season.

Before I jump into thinking about next year, I think a word about gear is warranted. I'll start off with drive-train. If you are into this sort of stuff the following 5 write ups are about the ins and outs of the top notch road/cx gear by Padraig at Red Kite Prayer:

Dura Ace Review
Super Record Review:
SRAM Red Review:

One big thing that I think was not covered in the discussion, which is particularly important to me as a racer, is race support. I think SRAM wins this hands down. Go to any major race in the US and you will see the red vehicles of SRAM neutral support. Not only are they willing to give you a quick tune up or fix, they will even go as far as to replace broken gear to let you finish up your racing over the weekend. And the repairs are completely free. (Of course, tips are appreciated and should be given for a job well done) The support is open to everyone. To me, that sells me on SRAM, and that is why I switched over all 5 bikes from Shimano. I had 2 crashes this year in races involving breaking SRAM Red shifters, and both times I had the shifters completely replaced on-site, ready for me to race the next day. How cool is that?

Another company I completely endorse is Boyd Wheels. They are based out of South Carolina and are great folks to work with. My go-to wheelset for cross this season was a set of 1200 gram Boyd 38mm tubulars. They were an awesome set of wheels for cross. I especially liked that the bearings held up great to heavy power-washing and that the 6-pawl freehub body was well sealed. They were reasonably stiff for a shallow wheel, and accelerated very well. I intend on getting another set for road and possibly an 88mm front for time trials.

One final bit of gear I am super excited about is my new hitch rack from Kuat. I have always been a roof rack guy, but you may have noticed that I tend to put bikes in the trunk for local races to save gas mileage. I think that I may find I'm actually a bigger fan of the hitch rack. I'll do a more thorough write-up once I've gotten some more use out of it.

Looking forward to road season, our team priority races are Hell Bender Omnium, Tulsa Tough, Tour De Grove, and Gateway Cup. We should have new kits arriving any day, and everyone should have some good fitness with all this spring-like weather we've been having. See you on the road!