Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Renegade Gents: Gear Review

An outtake from the previous post. Damaged silos from the 2020 derrecho
The Gents Race is over for 2023 and I was really stoked on how well I actually did, which was due in part to my gear I selected which worked quite well. 

Conditions were challenging and changed significantly throughout the day. To start off it was about 35°F with a heavy 25-30mph Northwest wind which dropped the windchill into frigid territory. Then it progressively warmed up to end the day in the 50's. Winds never really let up for our entire ride. The roads were loose, sandy, to partially gravel covered and hard based. There was little cloud cover, so bright Sunshine necessitated the use of good eyewear. Obviously, I needed to refuel and hydrate along the way, so I'll detail what we did there as well.

I'll cover all of these facets in this post, and remember- This is what worked for me. It may not work at all for you. Each person will need to determine their personal "best choices" on their own.


I wore bib tights from PROVIZ, a company that makes running and cycling gear with this crazy reflective treatment that literally lights up when a light source hits it. Cap'n Steve even noted my light show early on into the event when he was riding behind me for a spell. 

The tights I was wearing are 2016 versions of this product, the "PixElite Performance Men's Bib Tights". They are on sale right now and I can highly recommend them. They have held up really well over the time I have had them and they are some of my warmest bib tights I have, even over stuff from GORE which I have. And they fit better than GORE stuff does, especially if you are not built like the "typical cyclist", as I am not built like. I'm more of a "line backer shaped guy"! 

These bibs also have a nice chamois inside. It is not the best I've used, but it is by far not the worst. For what they are asking for these, I think it is a great value. They certainly kept me comfortable Saturday. 

Under this I wore an Endura base layer. I have a few different base layers from different companies and I cannot say one is all that much better than another. I just appreciate that they all keep the sweat from sitting on my skin and if the base layer I'm using is doing that, well then good enough. While the Endura base layer is really nicely made, I like the Twin Six ones just as well and they are a bit less money. Plus T-6 is US based and fairly local to me. 

On my feet were some Follow-Hollow socks I was sent out back in 2018 when that company was running a Kickstarter project. The site was last updated in 2020, so I don't think they are still around, although you can find scads of Alpaca wool socks online. Anyway, they are thicker, more comfortable, and warmer than my wool socks. 

I wore some 2019 vintage Northwave Extreme XC GTX shoes/boots on the feet as well. These are really nice "shoulder-season" boots for gravel riding. I wouldn't dip much below 20°F with these, but they work great from the 30's up to around 50, which was perfect for this ride. 

On the hands I wore some Hand-Up winter gloves and switched out to Hand-Up full-fingered gloves later on. On the head went a GORE ear-flap windproof cycling hat, my Bontrager helmet, and a Buff around my neck. I used my Rudy Project glasses. My jersey was an old long-sleeved Bontrager Classics jersey in Merino wool.  I also wore an old Bontrager wind jacket I've used for years. 

Verdict: I couldn't have chosen better gear to wear for the majority of the ride. By the end I was starting to feel a tad too warm, but it had hit 50 degrees by that point and we were riding with a mahoosive tailwind.

The Twin Six Standard Rando v2 as it was used for the Gents Race

The Hardwear:

Not much to add here that hasn't already been said. People were commenting on the GRX Limited Silver components and the look of the bike overall. That made me smile. A LOT of people caught on to the the school bus thing, like I did, and why I called this bike the "Gravel Bus". Must be a Mid-West phenomenon. 

There are a few review parts on this bike, so I won't go into detail here on that stuff other than to give a shout-out to the Pirelli tires. These Cinturato M tires are quickly becoming some of my favorite tires. When I checked the air pressures before I left the bike had sat with unchecked air pressure for a week. To my surprise I maybe was down 2psi on each tire and that may be because I let a tiny puff out of each tire just getting the pump chuck on the valve. Nice!

But better than that was the ride. These tires do such a great job of damping out chatter that I almost do not miss my Redshift ShockStop stem on this bike at all. That's saying something! And these tires roll really well on gravel too, despite the tread blocks. Impressive! 

The GRX stuff shifted really well and the SILCA Super-Secret chain lube did an impressive job once again. I could not fault anything on the bike, really, but I'll get into more details on some of that in my upcoming reviews of some of the other components.

Verdict: As good as it could get. I was 100% happy with all my set up. 


The story here is Embark Maple Energy. What a huge turnaround from last year at this event when I tried LMNT which was a massive fail for me. Instead of feeling bloated to the point that I was having sharp gastrointestinal pains I felt..... nothing. I just had power when otherwise I would have been dead in the water. 

I point here to when we left the checkpoint and had that Northward push where I actually had enough energy to pull through twice. That surprised me and I attribute this to using the Embark. 

I also had a generic granola-protein bar thing that you see a lot in convenience stores, but that probably didn't do much. It didn't hurt me, but I think the Embark was where it was at. That stuff has my 100% seal of approval now. It's a little spendy, but I have zero negative side effects from using it and that makes spending the coin on this stuff well worth it. 

Verdict: I was 100% pleased with what I did eat. Had I had another Embark packet I think I could have used it, but I only brought two, being foolishly stingy. No more! 

Overall Verdict: I was thrilled with my performance. It was way beyond anything I thought was going to be possible given my Spring, lack of training, and the event's conditions. Everything really worked to perfection to get me where I ended up. That doesn't happen often, so this was a big win for me. 

Thanks for reading my Gents Race report yesterday and the gear review today. Also: The Standard Disclaimer applies to many of the things mentioned in this report.


NY Roll said...

Good to see you having repeated success with a fuel source. I thought it was a hunch last summer when I gave you the free Embark samples I had. Glad to see the tree sap is working.

Guitar Ted said...

@N.Y. Roll - Yeah, thank you! It's great to come across something every once in a while that actually doesn't have any negative side effects. :>)