Saturday, August 06, 2016

GTDRI '16 Gear Review

That's me in front on the Gen I Fargo. Image by Scott Sumpter
The gear I used during my shortened attempt on the 2016 GTDRI was nearly flawless. I did have a thing or two I wasn't happy about, but I'll get to that in a minute. First, let's talk a little here about a few things that did work.

Clothing: All Summer long I have been experimenting with the wearing of a thin, lightweight wool jersey and a base layer tank top. The reasoning is that I would be more comfortable in the heat. My feeling was that once I had sweat out a synthetic jersey, my cooling capacity was hindered and I would begin to overheat. The conclusion I reached earlier this Summer was that there was definitely something to this.

Saturday wasn't brutally hot, but it was super humid, and the temperature did get well up into the 80's by afternoon. I was warm, for sure, but at no point did I ever feel over-heated, nor did I ever get those throbbing headaches when pushing things hard in the heat, which I have on several occasions before this. I'm still giving this a thumbs up until I prove otherwise. I will say that this garb is 100% more comfortable than anything I've tried before. For bottoms I've stuck with the Garneau bib shorts which also have proven to be a better bib short than any I've tried so far. Socks were Sock Guy, which work okay, and shoes were Shimano three strap Velcro closure mtb shoes that are a few years old at least now. On the head was a Walz cycling cap, and a Trek helmet. Everything was working the way it should have.

The Trusty Gen I Fargo with a couple of concerns in the component department......
There were a lot of things right with the bike, and a couple of concerns. First, the concerns....

I called out the Teravail Sparwoods in my report, and I have to say that in terms of tires for the Fargo, these have by far been the most disappointing ones I have ever used. They squirt gravel sideways, which on the surface is just annoying, but it also pitches the back end of the bike sideways at the most inopportune times. You either lose traction, momentum, or control. Sometimes all three at once. I blame that dratted puncture protection belt, which is so unforgiving that the tread area cannot deal with the quick changing gravel surfaces I ride on here in Iowa. I've tried several air pressure settings and the issues persist. I am confident that the issue is the overly stiff part of the tire, and while these have other fine attributes, I am giving them a thumbs down here.

The second concern is related to the first. Since the Sparwoods were wrenching the bike sideways so often, by the time I got to Traer they had loosened the quick release on the Sun-Ringle' wheels to the point that my rear wheel fell out when I picked up my bike to park it at the Traer convenience store stop! Needless to say, that was alarming. I watched that carefully the rest of my ride, and I had to tighten the QR one other time shortly after Traer. That time I over tightened the skewer. I did not have an issue after this. However; I've never had this happen with that skewer and these wheels in years of usage. Similar or worse conditions with these wheels on this bike have never resulted in a loose QR. I have to point to these Sparwoods and the loose gravel as the culprits at this point. I may be wrong, but I am not waiting to find out. A search for new tires is already underway. In fact I know exactly which tires I want to try next. I may even retire these wheels after that episode.

Image by Josh Lederman
Things that worked perfectly included the suite of bags from Becker Gear, J-Paks, and Bike Bag Dude. The life saver of a handle bar, the Ragley Luxy Bar, long out of production, unfortunately, staved off the left shoulder pain well. The Body Float seat post by Cirrus Cycles is like riding in a Cadillac. Smoooooth. Gold Glitter WTB SST saddle? Yes.

What can I say about the Gen I Fargo that I haven't said before? It is my favorite bike I've ever owned. I've had so many awesome adventures on this bike, and it fits so well. I could never get rid of it. Saturday was another typical "Fargo Adventure Ride" which ranks right up there with the best of the rides I've had on this bike dating all the way back to 2008. Like I have also said many a time- the Fargo Gen I has its flaws, but I have not been ticked off enough- ever- to make any of that a concern anymore. I just accept it as the quirks the bike has. Oh! One thing I noticed over the weekend was how well this fork damps vibrations. It is constantly "working" as you ride, and you can see that. These days forks are so overbuilt that the Fargo Gen I fork is a rare treat to ride on gravel roads.

My nutrition failed me, but I think I tracked it down to too much sugary crap at the Traer stop. I have to watch that. Otherwise, my Elite water additive keeps cramps at bay and helped keep me hydrated all day long. Even afterward, I never saw any signs of dehydration, so that was a big plus. I had an organic trail mix that I am sure wasn't the culprit, because I didn't start into that stuff until well after Traer. Oh well! Live and learn!


phillip Cowan said...

Past the age of fifty I think it gets harder and harder to do endurance events on carb metabolism. Basically the problem seems to be(at least for me)that you can't shove sugar into your face fast enough to make up the deficit. And if you try to exceed your body's uptake limit it usually results in gastric upset. Think of eating two banana splits and then washing them down with a Mountain Dew. Carb metabolism is a mammalian adaption that allows us to take advantage of summertime fruits and vegetation. When cold weather returns most animals revert to fat metabolism. But since we are clever monkeys and learned to farm we have sugar and starch all year round. Our bodies never get out of summertime mode. Carb metabolism is very messy compared to fat metabolism. Lots of free radicals are generated causing pre-mature aging and genetic damage. An analogy would be running your computer in safe mode all the time. Sure it will function(sort of) but it will never reach it's potential. A 150lb man with 8% body fat(wouldn't I love to be 8%) can store around 2400 Kcal of glycogen in his liver and muscles. He can store 49,000 Kcal of energy as fat. I think even Stevie Wonder can see that training (retraining?) the body to access energy from fat stores is the better way to go. 2400Kcal will take you halfway up the mountain, 49,000 Kcal will take you over the mountain and on to the next 19 mountains. This subject can get pretty deep, too deep for the comments section of your blog. I encourage people to do their own research and make up their own minds. Beware, there's a lot of bro-science out there that's counterproductive or even harmful. I would recommend the books and blogs of people like Loren Cordain, Robb Wolff, Jack Kruse and Mark Sisson. I guess I could sum it up by saying that you seem to be having some of the same issues I had three years ago. Things have gotten a lot better since I ditched the Gatorade and Powerbars approach.

Barturtle said...

I'd give a new skewer a try before replacing the whole wheelset. I pretty much only use XT or 105 level Shimano skewers across my fleet, as I've had slippage from open cam designs.

Guitar Ted said...

@Barturtle: Thanks. As a bicycle mechanic for over 18 years, I have opened and closed thousands of skewers over that time, and I understand that certain ones work better than others. This is why I am pointing to the tires as the culprit. That said, with the switch to the tires I have a mind to put on this bike I will be better served with a different wheel set. Which I already have, by the way.

The wheels I have on there are not bad at all, but the Sun-Ringle' wheels of this vintage used a Stan's bead seat diameter and that isn't where I want to go in regard to future tubeless tire choices, so they are coming off this bike.

Michael said...

I'll get you a couple more six packs if the Sparwood *really* need to find a new home. I don't really have any complaints about the Cannonballs so far..


Jason said...

What material is the base layer tank top? Is it wool or synthetic?

Guitar Ted said...

@Jason: It is a typical synthetic from Bontrager. It does have a raised, textured surface, which I think helps with breathability. I have friends telling me I should get some thin wool base layers as well. That's something I need to experiment with.

MICHAEL said...

I concur; the Gen 1 Salsa Fargo has NEVER disappointed me. I am looking for another bike to soak up some of the multitude of paved trails Minneapolis/St. Paul, but so far, I cannot find a suitable replacement for a guy like me that rides alot, but already has 6 bikes. Perhaps a new wheelset? For now, I'll probably buy a new set of Big Apples 2.0 to get me by....Heat is another story; I've not found a great warm weather set up: usually I wear a cotton tank under my jersey in case I need to shed