Monday, March 19, 2018

Treading A Fine Line

After last weekends ride I was back to work in a big way on Monday with a 14 hour door to door day. I decided to call this a "rest" day as I wasn't doing any training.

Tuesday was a gym session then work until about 3am.

Balls in a rack....what a great metaphor for my week!!

Wednesday I was stuck in a hotel so instead of sit on an exercise bike for an hour and a half I thought "I need more time on my feet" so I ran on the treadmill (it was raining outside) for an hour. While I don't think I had run all year, with my fitness the aerobic effort was easy enough but I did wonder about the effects it might have on my body/joints. An early sleep for the allnighter that I was about to pull at work confirmed my lack of running form as I was quite stiff when I woke up. All good though, right?

Getting home from work at 6am Thursday, I took the kids to the bus at 7:30 then got about 3 hours sleep. I wandered around in my usual post red-eye daze for most of the day, then loaded 30kg of weight plates into my backpack for a 5km hike on Cornubia singletrack. Now, let me tell you, 30kg + the pack is frickin' heavy!! That 5km was a struggle and I was mighty glad to get that pack off my back. It also left me greatly concerned about the Grand Canyon hike, as many racers seem to have loads approaching 30kg. To lump that weight 35km with 1300m descent and then 1500m climb would be the end of me. I don't think I could do it after having just ridden 1200km.....

Friday was to be another gym session followed by a 1 hour, hard Zone 5 effort on the bike..............or it was supposed to be. I warmed up for my gym session then pulled up lame. My right calf was a tight as a bow string and I couldn't do much at all. We called it on the gym session after some core work with my head trainer, Jim, telling me I looked tired and to take a rest.

Laying it all out like I have above makes it bleedingly obvious that I was on the feathery edge of overtraining. Friday morning however, I was just thinking "what is wrong with me" as for the last two and a half months I have felt great, slowly feeling stronger and stronger. I wasn't even considering overtraining!
 Overtraining is something that takes months to come back from if you do go over that edge. I took the rest of Friday off and truncated my Saturday and Sunday rides to be shorter and much less intense.

 I slept a lot and am slowly feeling better now as of  Monday morning. 
Note to self - there is no running in the AZTR so - DON'T GO RUNNING, DICKHEAD!!

While in repair mode I finally forced myself to get my bike portage system sorted out. I have been loathing this part of the preparation for some reason. Perhaps it makes the Grand Canyon hike more real? Perhaps, my lack of backpacking experience? I'm not sure. Anyway, I sat there for about 30 minutes thinking about the best way to load my bike. I attached the Mountainsmith Strappettes to the seat tube and linked them around the head tube with some other strap that I had. Hoisting it up on my back I found that I needed to adjust the position of the strapettes on the seat tube to get a better balance but on Take 2 it was basically sorted!

That seat bag will be relocated to below the wheel

I was very pleasantly surprised that the load wasn't uncomfortable at all and most importantly, it wasn't too heavy. In fact, fully loaded, ready to race (without food or water) the bike comes in at 19.4kg (42.7 lb). I am super stoked with that!! Obviously water and food will up the weight considerably but on the plus side I don't need to carry much water through the canyon as I can top up as I go. 

Selfie via the GoPro app. Yes, I look tired.

Another pleasant surprise was that the bike wasn't too hard to get on and off of my back (slight disclaimer - I wasn't completely rooted from 10 days straight on a bike!) though. Maybe hiking with 30+kg on my back was paying off?

I also got my bike to the point where I am happy with it's setup. 

At the urging of my friend Owen, a tyre construction guru, industrial chemist and general man-of-mystery, I have switched out the Maxxis Ikon on the rear to a heavier duty Maxxis Rekon. This is solely to help avoid punctures, particularly sidewall cuts as the Ikon is quite a lightweight construction tyre. Owen also walked me through the use of his patented (seriously!) puncture repair system. I will have a kit with me during the race which I hope not to need but am totally confident that if I do, it will be the duck's nuts in puncture repair.

Yes, the yellow grips will be yellow for about 2 hours.

I do have an upgrade to do to the drivetrain, with a box of SRAM GX Eagle to throw at the bike today or tomorrow. This will also become the pre race rebuild. With me as chief mechanic, lets hope I don't screw anything up!(too much)

With less than two weeks until I fly out it is getting to the pointy end of my preparation. I am feeling a bit underdone on many fronts right now but hopefully I can rectify most of these issues in the next 10 days. Some have to wait until I get to the US, as I will be ordering my bivy to be delivered to my hotel in Pheonix, along with a few other small bits and pieces. 

This all adds to the anxiety though.......Deep breaths, deep breaths.........but at least I'm not overtrained!!


Friday, March 16, 2018

Rain Evasion Ride

Arriving home from a nights work at 6am the outlook for my weekend training ride wasn’t good. Rain, rain and some more rain for Southeast Queensland. Riding 20 hours and camping in the rain held exactly ZERO appeal, especially in my sleep deprived state.

After a day of moping around I eventually made a late decision to drive down to Grafton in New South Wales (aka The Police State) and ride the Old Glenn Innes road. It wouldn’t be the "course specific” ride that the training plan called for but it would be plenty long enough AND most importantly, mostly dry (I hoped!).

I was up at 3:30am for the 3+ hour drive to Grafton. It wasn’t easy dragging myself out of bed that early after working a “red eye” the night before but it had to be done. Anyway, it was good training for the race plan, getting up dead tired! The drive down was pretty uneventful with a few rain showers but with a clearing horizon the closer I got to Grafton.

I parked the car in the loading area out the back of the local Coles and quickly prepped the bike. I was pleased to get away at my planned 8am and warmed up on the 7km of busy road out to the Old Glenn Innes turn off.

I hadn't done much research on the road as it was such a late decision to ride down here. I had just built a route with Ride With GPS and uploaded it to the gps. I knew the road was the main highway until 1962, there was a tunnel build circa 1867, some big hills and some ghost towns but that was it. Best case scenario, I would make it all the way to Glenn Innes, 177km (and a big climb) away. Worst case I would camp where I dropped. Being honest with myself, Option 2 was the most likely outcome.

The first 30km or so were sealed road and pretty uninteresting, with lots of little climbs and descents. Once I hit the dirt, what little traffic had been on the road ceased altogether. Perfect. The road didn't become any more interesting and I felt like I was just grovelling along quite slowly. I probably was as I had only obtained 8 hours sleep in the previous 2.5 days and this Beast isn't the sprightliest bike packing rig. Working against me was the ever-so-slight but ever present gentle climb. Of course, you couldn't see this with the naked eye and even the gps struggled to show it on the elevation profile. Never the less, it was there!

The track began to parallel the Boyd River for quite some time and this was a very pleasant pedal, mainly because it was level-ish and the speed was high. I was passed by lots of adventure bikes coming the other way and I thought "that is the way to see this country". Interestingly, most of the bikes were DRZ400s, KLR650s or XR400s with just a small number of high end KTM or BMWs. Clearly, you don't need to spend a fortune to have fun off road.

After much deliberation and consternation I had pulled the trigger on a GoPro replacement. With much assistance from DCRainmaker's excellent review I turned my Single Speed mountain bike into a GoPro Hero 6 Black. This was now a camera shakedown ride as well as a training ride.

I eventually came to the old settlement of Dalmorton. I have seen figures of past population range from 300 to 3000. Who really knows now and does it really matter? Back in the day it would have been small and remote, but vital. The Parks service is slowly restoring the remaining old buildings and it is definitely worth stopping for a look around as it is in a very pretty valley.

I sat and ate my home made chicken roll here at a picnic bench. Being midday and having been up for nearly 9 hours I decided to shut my eyes for 30 minutes. The green grass looked so soft and inviting. Of course, with this being Australia I knew something would bite me while I slept. Sure enough, after 20 minutes I was rudely awakened by a green ant nipping at my chest. How do these little buggers sting so much?!! Oh well, time to get going again I guess?

Getting away from the blasted green ants!

Initially I felt doughy but soon I was feeling great again. I must remember to use the nap strategy when I feel hopelessly tired as it definitely refreshed me. The climbs didn't seem so bad any more, even though they were getting longer and steeper.

Much steeper than it looks!

The hand hewn tunnel hove into view and while not very long, it is clearly very necessary as the rock outcrop juts right out to drop into the river. I can just imagine the original road surveyors thinking to themselves....."bugger". Some serious grunt work would have been required to build this beauty!

I passed a cenotaph in the middle of nowhere (Newton Boyd was the locality) honouring the 30 local lads who had gone off to fight in WWI. It is so touching whenever I come across these things in my travels. Here, these names were someone's son, brother or husband, not just names on a monument. They left these idyllic little valleys, their families and loved ones for the horror of WWI, almost all on this cenotaph never to return.........

Lest We Forget

The road climbed away from the river and I was getting a bit concerned about my water supply. Mainly concerned that the water filter (Sawyer Mini) I was carrying (and had been for 2 months now) was completely untested by me.
I was hoping it was idiot proof.....
Turns out it was!
Much to my relief, the hardest part of filtering water was hanging down off the bridge to fill the filter bag at the Henry River crossing.

With a full 5.5 litre complement of water I slowly climbed away from the river crossing. This water is heavy! But I would need it as I wasn't sure what would be available as I climbed higher up into the hills.

The road was quite nicely surfaced, being a crushed granite surface with plenty of corrugates on the highly cambered corners where the water had run to the inside. This meant I had to go the long way around bends, on the outside of the turn, to keep some forward momentum up. Luckily, there was zero traffic.

As I approached the 9 hour mark I decided that I would not be making the top of the climb, let alone the extra 30km into Glenn Innes as this was to be a 10 hour training day. I also still had to ride back to Grafton tomorrow, get in the car and then drive 3 hours home then got to work for 14 hours the next day. Curse working for a living!!


I reached a spot that my phone mapping app, Galileo, called "Diehard". I figured this was a good place to call the turnaround as the road dipped down about 300ft to cross the Mann River before hiking back up for the main range climb.

I had passed a really nice camping spot along the river about 10km back and that would make my 10 hours. I knew that it was downhill but didn't think it would take only 20 minutes to reach it. There really had been some climbing here!

Finding a nice spot with a few well positioned trees I quickly set up camp, boiled some water and had dinner. I managed to just get done before dark and pretty much as soon as it was dark turned in for the night, setting an alarm for 6am.

It was a warm night and I didn't sleep that well so it took a little effort to climb out of bed this morning but once up I quickly downed a cup of tea and a few bars for breakfast (mmmmm..mmmm, yum....bars.....) and packed up. Once rolling I noticed the legs weren't sore at all, meaning I hadn't tried hard enough yesterday!

Morning glory

I was soon down to the Henry river crossing where I had filtered water yesterday and I topped up with about a litre and a half now. I didn't do a "maxi tanker" load as I knew there were more crossings ahead and I had confidence in my filter AND how the water tasted now!

Testing the GoPro voice command

Getting it done.

Today was just all about getting back to the car and getting home. My butt was a bit sore so I stood and pedalled a lot today to give it some relief. I stood and mashed the pedals on most of the climbs and was pleasantly surprised to feel that my legs didn't hurt at all. They weren't begging me to stop so all of the training must be paying off. In fact, I could quite regularly put the bike in top gear and while standing, mash the pedals for a while. Good-o!

I thought I had phone service.....but no......thank you Telstra!

I passed quite a few more motorcyclists today. What is it with DRZ400s? They smell like they are all burning oil every time one passes? I will have to ask an owner one day if they chew the oil a bit because it sure smells like it..

I didn't take many photos this morning as it was basically the same scenery as yesterday, just from a different angle. I did get this screen grab from a video as I went back through Dalmorton where a group of motorcyclists were looking around. See that guy down the road? Yeah, the one with his back to me? Well he just strolled across the road like there was nobody around, only looking over his right shoulder at the last second, the second that I was about to plow into him at 30km/h! I was videoing with one hand so couldn't do much to avoid him. Lucky for both of us he stopped in the middle of the road, just in time!!

G'day champ.......

The rest of the ride consisted of lots of little ups and downs. There proved to be 1500m(5000ft) of climbing in this downhill direction! I was glad to see the road turn back to sealed surface as this meant only about 30km to go. It also meant more traffic but nothing that wasn't manageable.

The last 7km into Grafton was into a strong headwind (isn't it always the way?) and I was pretty glad to get to my car (and glad to see it still there!) as I was getting a little sore by now.

A quick visit to the BP truck stop for a shower and a trucky works burger and I was feeling a million bucks again! The two days had seen me cover 242km(150mi) with 3500m(11500ft) of climbing on bugger all sleep.
I didn't feel too bad but I need to look at my right shoe insole as my right foot was quite sore. My right hand had some feeling issues as well but I will be changing grips once my new bar ends arrive from China so they should sort that problem. I was glad of the long saddle time as it was a great reminder of how little time I have spent on the seat during this training. Most rides are in the 2 hour range and simply do not replicate what it feels like to be on a bike all day long, day after day. This worries me a little as this is meant to be my last overnight training ride before the AZTR750. For the TD I did at least 15 x 12 hour days in the saddle so it never really bothered me during that race. I may need to get a few more 12 hour days on this bike - even if it is just on the rail trail or somewhere equally boring.

I arrived home at a very civil 5:30pm, not the 9-10pm that I had originally warned the family about, so I was in the good books. ;)


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Ramping It Up

What seems mere days ago is now a very distant Week 6! Here we are, going into Week 9 of the training program. While I am starting to feel the benefits of the program (especially the off-bike strength training) I am starting to feel a little stressed that my gear isn’t sorted. I am still working my way through tyre selection and this can’t be hurried. It is simply time on the trail that is needed there. My hike a bike (HAB) training is going okay but I still haven’t even tried slinging my bike onto my back yet. I have been filling a 35 litre pack with as many bottles of water as I can, which yields me about an 18-19kg load. It hurts after just 5km so I am slightly concerned about a 25kg bike strapped to a makeshift backpack for 35km ......

Last mean the week before, Week 7, I managed to get away for a longer, fully loaded overnight trip. The forecast wasn’t looking good with a high chance of showers predicted. Oh well, 90% of success is just showing up as they say, so I pedalled out from home for that old favourite, D’Aguilar National Park. Actually, I was hoping to get through the forest and out onto the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail but my near-lunch time departure put paid to that plan. No, I would just ride as far as I could and camp where I dropped.

The route was one that I had taken many times in my prep for the Tour Divide and it was quickly evident that the Cannondale certainly doesn’t roll anywhere near as nicely as the Muru. I quickly squashed that mental hurdle by reminding myself that the TD bike was built to roll distances of up to 300km a day whereas the AZTR will see me lucky to punch out half that distance per day. Horses for courses.........but the buzzing from the new Rekon and Ikon tyres on the ashphalt kept singing “draggy, dragg, draaagggg” to my mind. Don’t panic though, that tread will come into it’s own on the AZ dirt!

As I finally hit the Gap Creek Reserve dirt the tyres inspired confidence, as I expected they would. I just need to find some rocky trails to thrash them over to test their resilience.

I took the climb up South Boundary Rd a little gingerly as I wanted to save my legs for tomorrow’s ride. No good ripping my legs off on day one, right? As I climbed higher up the hill it began to look much more certainly like rain. Checking the BOM Weather Radar site there wasn’t much showing and anyway, I was out here, with all the gear. There was nothing for it other than to just get on with it.

Once I reached the Boombana picnic area though it was getting prematurely dark and decidedly moist. I was wet, but warm so I pedalled on through Mt Nebo. Neither of the two food outlets were open by this time so I though I would push on to Fernvale, about 2.5 hours away, on the rail trail. Dave Wicks happened to text me as I was sitting in a bus shelter, contemplating my options. When I told him about my plan I received a screen shot of the radar and a “good luck!”  Hmmmm, I might need it!

Entering Dundas Rd, which is the start of the drop off the range the rain started getting heavier. The cloud also descended so that I was riding through a fog with maybe 50m visibility. Great!
I came to an intersection where I knew I had to go left...or was it right? Hmmm, it has been a few years since I have been up here. Shining my light around I spied a new addition to the water tanks on Dundas rd - a bush camp!!

Now a bush camp isn’t much more than a 3 sided shelter with a bench seat but on a dark, rainy night it was a frickin’ Hilton hotel!

While I would have to forgo dinner that night, a dry camp site was much more preferable to a very wet, dark slide off of the range down the appropriately named “Whoa Boy” fire road with it’s 50 odd water bars and 30% grade. Fernvale was a loong way away with no certainty that I would make it before the pub stopped serving food. Yep, squashed Full O Fruit it would be! I quickly set up my hammock and crawled into bed for what would be a 12 hour rest. Heavy rain on a tin roof makes for great sleeping weather!

Next morning, once I eventually dragged my backside out of bed, I quickly packed up. While it wasn't raining at the camp site, the weather radar indicated that there were many heavy showers around, with some of the heaviest heading for the rail trail and my "Plan B" option of riding south to Ipswich.

“Plan C”was hatched. I rode back up Dundas Rd to Mt Nebo rd, then turned off down the Goat Track. It had not been raining up until this point but of course as soon as I started down the Goat track (the wrong way), the heavens opened. I hid under a tree for 10-15 minutes hoping it was just a passing (very heavy) shower but once I was finally soaked I thought “well, I may as well be moving forward as standing here”.

The rate of rainfall was biblical and I could barely see where I was going. Not good on a one-way-downhill dirt road. Imagine my surprise when a woman on a mtb ground up the hill through the tumult! We exchanged a “g’day” and that was it. I took comfort from the fact thst I wasn’t the only lunatic in this neck of the woods........

Once onto the main road the rain eased and had stopped altogether by the time I arrived in Samford. Lucky for me, one of the first places I saw was Spoke cafe’. “They will be understanding” I hopefully told myself. I parked my bike up and wandered in, dripping water all the way. Quickly ordering lest the pool developing underneath me drown a passing child I exited stage right for an outside table. Dripping away I downed a huge hot breakfast and small bucket of coffee. Ahhhh, bliss.....

Where to from here? The answer to that question was home, via the Kedron Brook bikeway, the Gateway Bridge and the regular Gateway Loop that I do with the kids. That would keep me from wrecking my drivetrain in mud but still give me a bit of a workout.
Little did I know......

First up was getting over the small range between Samford and Ferny Hills. Not a big hill but one with no shoulder for much of the way and an unusually high number of incompetent, ignorant drivers. Part way up I remembered there was an old rail grade that had been turned into a bike path, the Lanita Rail Trail. Checking my phone I saw that it was not far from my current precarious position. A few turns up and down some fire breaks and I was dumped out onto this exquisitely sealed bike trail!

Turning right I happily pedalled along for a few kilometres. Until I came to a sign that said “Samford ahead”. WTF?? I had kept the big hill on my left all the time, hadn’t I? Sure enough, looking at my Garmin I was heading West! That is not right!!

With a heavy overcast there was no telling where the sun was and my gut told me I was going the right way but my gut was WRONG! I must admit to being a bit befuddled for 5 minutes afterwards. It is mind-bending to have your picture of reality be sooooo far wrong and in my own backyard so-to-speak.
Grrr. Dickhead!

Anyway, righting my wrong I was soon seeking my way through the ‘burbs to the Kedron Brook bikeway. This bikeway is an excellent East-West corridor for cyclists. All the while Wicks was helpfully texting me screenshots of rain heading my way. What can I say? He is a helpful guy......

True to radar form, I pushed into a headwind with driving rain for the next hour and a half to two hours. It felt like I was crawling but I kept telling myself “this is all good training”.

That was until I was so soaked that I began to feel a little chafing........... you know........chafing. My mind IMMEDIATELY shot to Mick Eyb’s day one account of his Indian Pacific Wheel Race write up where he got soaked then his knicks almost rubbed the end off of his old fella.........causing him days of excruciating pain and embarassment.

Shit no!!! 

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!!!

 I had thoughts of calling my wife to come and get me but the thought of her telling ALL of her office buddies (and no doubt, she would!) that “I have to rescue him because his todger is getting rubbed away” was too much to bear! Even worse worse than........having your todger rubbed away.....!

 So, still about 50km and probably 4 hours from home I adjusted my “position” a lot, stood and pedalled some and just generally dealt with it. I have never been so happy to have a little dick because believe me dear reader, I am sure that is what saved me from a week of unbelievable pain and suffering.......... :0 J

 Grabbing some hot chips and water at the base of the Gateway Bridge climb refreshed me a bit while I set a booby trap, dripping slippery water all over their outdoor eating area.
Things weren’t improving much but I was getting closer to home. 30ish kilometres to go but at least it was mostly protected bike path. But how wrong I was, again.

The pishing rain had swollen Tingalpa Creek to overflowing and as the Tingalpa Creek Bikeway that I was using followed said creek I soon came to an impassable sea of water which hid my route home. Backtracking around this blockage saw me add considerable kilometres to my ride, most of which was on wet, congested, Friday afternoon roads. No fun was had here at all.

 Eventually I reached the safety of Daisy Hill forest. I should have been in a canoe though, not on a bike as the amount of water exiting the forest was frightening!

I knew there were some deep erosion holes in the track in places but it was impossible to see anything with the sometimes almost 2 feet deep water flow!

 I somehow managed to avoid disaster and exited that forest, rolling down the final hill to home.

Boy, was I glad to be home! It had been 8 hours of soaking wet riding. I hadn’t set any speed records despite the decent effort I had put in, which was a little demoralising. I just have to accept this bike is a slow roller but it will come into it’s own on the sandy, dry trails of southern Arizona. Bring on the sunshine!

I still need to get this backpack thing sorted and also sort some minor shoe issues. The backpack thing is really the elephant in the room at the moment and I am thinking perhaps I just mail a pack, hiking poles and walking shoes to the Canyon Post Office and make it easy on myself......

 Cheers and thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Plus Size

No, I am not referring to garments for larger folk here. I mean + size mountain bike tyres. 

Fat bottom girl....... 3.0 inch

Plus (+) size tyres are in the 2.8 to 3.0 inch width range (“normal” is 2.0 to 2.4) and are a relatively new “standard” in the mtb industry. The idea is to allow tyres to be run at low pressure (10-15 psi) to give superglue-like grip and have more flex to help avoid punctures. I joined the + size crowd late last year to see what the fuss was about and have been enjoying the ridiculous grip that 3 inch tyres give. The down side is that there is a lot of rubber in a + size tyre. That mass is harder to spin up to speed and also makes it harder to change direction.

How this relates to me and my AZTR750 attempt is that I really don't need to make this race any harder than it needs to be (you could argue that using a + size 27.5 bike instead of a "normal" 29er is already enough of a handicap).

Typical 29er with 2.1 or 2.2 tyres

To this end, I have been hunting for tyre recommendations from Arizona locals on the various forums. I have learnt plenty about what people think will and will not work, tyre wise, but some of the recommended tyres aren't available Down Under.

As a result, I have used some gut instinct, some blind faith and a dash of test pilot to make the leap to purchase a couple of Maxxis 2.8 tyres. I have gone for a Rekon with EXO (sidewall protection) for the front and an Ikon, also with EXO for the rear.

My reasoning? Well, the "go to" tyre for 29 inch wheels in this race is the Maxxis Ardent, as it is tough enough to withstand the AZ desert. You can't get an Ardent in a + size, so the closest tyre I can see is the Recon. It has a waaaay more aggressive tread than I need with + size tyres but that tread will hopefully help with puncture protection. I will, unfortunately, also slow me down with a bit of extra rolling resistance.

For the rear I have, somewhat controversially, gone with an Ikon.
Yes, because Ikons are a bit lightweight in construction in their skinnier incarnation. I used an Ikon 2.2 on the rear of my Tour Divide bike because I didn't need that much grip, instead preferring less rolling resistance in that 4500km gravel grind. With the + size version though, that relative lack of grip isn't as pronounced because there is simply way more rubber on the trail. The real test will be to see how resilient to cuts and punctures it will be as the AZT is notoriously brutal on tyres, especially sidewalls and this is where the skinny Ikon is a bit weak. The sidewalls "feel" quite thick with Maxxis's added EXO sidewall protection even though the tyre is 120tpi (threads per inch) construction. I would have preferred both tyres to be the tougher 60tpi construction but this is where there is some compromise in + size tyres. Going too strong in the casing adds weight. Weight equals slower speed - as in forward motion and in steering feel.
Both are bad, m'kay?

You can see from the photos below how much weight I have shaved off the rotating mass just with the new 2.8 tyres, versus the 3.0s I have been running.

WTB Bridger 3.0 that I have been running on the front.

Maxxis Rekon 2.8 that will replace the Bridger - 297grams saved (10.5 oz)!

Maxxis Chronicle 3.0 (60tpi) that I have been running on the rear.

Maxxis Ikon 2.8 that will adorn the rear - 227g (8 oz) saving!!

Only time will tell if I have chosen wisely. + size tyres aren't cheap, so I will be sticking by my choice unless I can prove them to be unworthy over the next 4 weeks prior to the race. This means getting the Beast loaded up and hammering it across some rocky, unforgiving trails. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we don't have the cacti problem so I can't simulate that particular issue in trying to expose any weakness. While a 524g (1.15 lb) saving is significant, it is worthless if the tyres let me down on day one in the Canelos.

Not rocky, nor unforgiving - but it was on the way to find rocky and unforgiving!

Fingers crossed I have chosen wisely.....................or that I ride lucky...........!
I will be happy to take either.