So I have been getting a lot of questions about the bike that I am going to be using for the race. Well it is a 2007 Specialized Stumpjumper with a couple of modifications. The first thing I did was put a SRAM X-0 derailleur, after my last bike the most important aspect was to have reliable gear shifting. I have also replaced the SRAM X-9 trigger shifters with SRAM X-0 grip shifters.Last year on the Ride to Rhodes I had numerous problems with mud in the trigger shifters and not being able to change gears. Similarly in the Sabie Experience in December, with all the rain and mud on the 3rd day, I rode as a single speed for a lot of the time. So we shall see what the grip shifters do this year.
I have also replaced the saddle with a Selle Italia Yutaak. When you are spending so many hours on the saddle, you have to have something that is comfortable (OK that's a relative term). It looks quite 'porno' but is a fantastic 'ride'.
In preparation for the ride I have just replaces the crank, chain rings, bottom bracket, chain and cassette. I wanted to buy new chain rings from the LBS (local bike shop) but found it was cheaper to buy the full cranks with chain rings from Chain Reaction Cycles in the UK than just the chain rings locally. They also included a new bottom bracket in the kit. I replaced the cranks with Truvativ Stylo (as per the original that came with the bike). I was really happy with them.
I have just bought a new set of wheels, which should arrive tomorrow. They are Mavic Crosstrail tubeless wheels. Those in the know say that the wheel can make the biggest improvement on a bike, all to do with rotational mass. For me one of the biggest attractions is having a tubeless ready wheel and without the hasstle of fightting with rim strips and tubeless tyres that you can't easily fit over a standard rim.
Lights are another area of concern. I battle to see in the dark, never mind trying to ride down technical single track in the dark. The solution I have come up with is to put two high powered LED lights on the bike. The best value for money was the Black Diamond Icon lights. After removing the headbands I cable-tied them to the handle bars and secured the battery pack to the bike frame. This seems to work fairly well. Nothing like Derek's 'landing light' but a fraction of the cost. I have also put a small Petzl Tikka headlight on my helmet for reading maps at night.