Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kiwi Brevet - Gear Review

  • Bike:  2009 Giant XTC Advanced SL.  The best money can buy.  Many thanks to Giant New Zealand for hooking me up.
  • Fork:  White Brothers Rock Solid carbon rigid fork.  Suspension corrected for 26", 425mm axle to crown accomodates 29er wheel.
  • Wheels:  front 29" Stan's ZTR355 on Hope Pro II hub with DT Spokes built from new by Oli Brooke-White.  Rear same but 26", rebuilt by Oli one week out, with all spokes replaced (ex-Simon Kennett GDR wheel)
  • Tyres:  front:  29er Stan's Raven 2.0, rear:  26" Stan's Raven 2.2, both with Stan's sealant.
  • Drive:  Shimano XT (except front derailleur, XTR, ex-Simon Kennett GDR)
  • Brakes:  Avid Juicy 5, 160mm rotors
  • Pedals:  Shimano XTR
  • Bar and stem:  Specialized S-Works carbon riser, with ESI Silicone Chunky grips, Singletrack Solutions plastic bar ends.  Raceface Evolve XC stem.
  • Seat and post:  Ritchey WCS Carbon seatpost (mmmmm...) and Fizik Arione saddle.
  • Rack: rack mounted on front fork.
  • Bags:  Topeak Tri bag mounted to top tube, Topeak Aero Large seat bag with Q-spear bungee, Pacific Outdoor Pneumo 5L dry bag, Camelbak Mule with 3L bladder
  • Other:  2 x stainless steel bottle cages, front and rear Kathmandu LED lights, Fibre Flare rear light (I must have had at least a dozen people ask me what it was on my rear stay...)
All expertly and lovingly assembled and checked by Oli Brooke-White over months before the event.

The bike was absolutely perfect, but it made a huge difference being familiar with it fully loaded up. I'd taken it around Makara Peak (including down Ridgeline Track) and up the Skyline to Kau Kau, as well as riding it a bit over Mt Vic.  I'd also done plenty of riding on it unloaded to make sure the seat height and cockpit set-up were spot on.

I had some chafing on one of my sit bones - fairly standard I guess - though I suspect the skin was a little inflamed going in.  What started off as a small blemish (maybe a pimple) was an open 2cm patch by the end of day 2.  Chamois cream (see below) was essential to get through this.

My gloves and grip combination (as well as the front tyre and carbon fork and bar) were out of this world the best I could have hoped for (I reckon).  I have one numb finger (#4 on my right hand, go figure) one week on, but that's it.

The event would have been impossible to do on this bike without the rack mounted on the front fork.  It performed admirably, and apart from sliding down the fork a bit when wet, gave me no drama whatsoever.  A great test of a great Kiwi product!

I never really got on top of the loading of the seat bag.  Any time I needed anything from it, I was lucky to not have to empty the whole thing out.  I don't know how necessary the bungee was, but it gave me good peace of mind if nothing else.  I didn't carry my camelbak on my back at all, but would have if the weather was hotter (with the extra 3L of water).

I wouldn't change anything about my set-up, except perhaps putting a 2.2 Raven on the front.  Oh, and not getting a saddle sore...

  • Ultimo bib shorts and short sleeve riding jersey.  1 pair Icebreaker woollen socks.  Louis Garneau shoes with 3 velcro straps.  Very stiff
  • Specialized BG Gel short-finger gloves
  • Giro Atmos roadie helmet and cotton roadie cap
  • Adidas sunglasses (the ones that are on special each year at Taupo)
Perfect.  Wouldn't change a thing.  

Having only one of everything worked fine possibly only because it wasn't too hot, and because I was able to shower and rinse the chamois each night.  Even the socks didn't get too horrid.  One of my feet showed some signs of trench foot on the last day, but not until then.

The gloves were key for comfort, and I also rate the nice light, highly vented, helmet.

  • Skins full length tights - I wore these to bed each night
  • Warriors footy shorts - I wore these to protect others' sensibilities definitely could have done without but would have been useful if we ended up walking anywhere in an evening...  We didn't...
  • Icebreaker long sleeve shirt (150 weight)
  • Icebreaker socks (same as riding socks, but cleaner.  I only wore these once...)
  • Mellow Johnnie's long sleeve Santini riding jersey
  • Louis Garneau knee warmers
  • Ground Effect Baked Beanie
  • Ground Effect Flash Gordon
Perfect, wouldn't change a thing - except maybe forget the shorts.


    • SPOT satellite tracking unit
    • Sony Ericsson C510a phone with 3.2MP camera.  Sealine Cellphone Dry Bag
    • Credit card, EFT-POS card, Driver's Licence in bank coin bag, and about $80 cash
    • Homemade helmet mounted light with 8 x AA rechargable battery pack
    • Garmin Edge 705 GPS unit, mounted on stem
    • 60mL bottle of Finish Line Cross Country wet lube
    • 2 x 26" inner tubes, taped to top tube.
    • Giant Control Mini 3 pump, mounted in bracket on seat tube
    • Tyre boot (3.5 x 7cm piece of old Michelin road tyre), single Tacx tyre lever, patch kit, new glue.
    • Lezyne V10 multitool
    • SRAM Powerlink Connector
    • Sweet Cheeks Butt Butter (invaluable... - used mornings 2-5) decanted into a small (3cm diameter - the Wattyl lolly jar from Taupo's race pack would have been perfect, but I didn't notice I had one until after buying something from Plastic Box...) ointment bottle
    • Sun Sense Clear Gel SPF30+ decanted into a 60mL hand sanitizer bottle (used mornings 2-5)
    • Iodine tabs
    • 2 x 900mL drink bottles (marketed as 1L, but still bigger than anything I found locally...)
    • Nuun Lemon+Lime active hydration tabs
    • Strawberry Gu Chomps energy chews
    • assorted sticking plasters and strapping tape.  Paracetamol and panadol.  Several 75mg Voltaren tabs.  Antihistamines
    • Funky little travel toothbrush with a 5mL tube of colgate! 
    • Chapstick (unused, though I should have put some on to avoid slightly cracked lips now...)
    • Proven's Intimate wipes (Gynaecologically tested... - I didn't end up using any of these, having had overlooked my ability to shower each night)
    • toilet paper (approx 40 squares, "lent" to another rider...)
    • ear plugs (ex AC/DC concert, unused on this trip and discarded after night 2)
    • survival blanket (unused)
    • yellow lenses for sunnies (unused)
    • cell phone USB cable?! (unused, but would have been handy if my phone ran dry, assuming I could have got near a PC...)
    • very small (5cm or so) Victorinox pocket knife (unused)
    • 1m long cable lock and padlock
    • [FORGOTTEN] GPS unit charger...

    I'd also have taken the Allen key specific to the freeload rack and perhaps a couple of long zipties.  I realised in hindsight how much faith I'd put in a new product, and a few bolts here and there!  (It was well deserved though...).  I'd consider a set of brake pads next time - small cost with huge potential regrets if needed...

    The quantities of most things were perfect.  A second bag of Gu Chomps would have been wise though, and might have made a huge difference to my last day...

    I don't think I'd bother with my cell phone cable again.  I put the phone in flight mode except when blogging photos, making call ins, and on occasion at lunch stops to check messages etc.  This seemed to preserve battery life particularly well, and helped have the phone ready for photos.  To be honest, I hadn't fully considered the implications of learning to blog directly from the phone at the last minute (the cable was partly with photo upload in mind). 

    A lightweight sleeping bag is the next extra I'd consider.  But then, do you also add a bivvy bag or fly?  And a sleeping mat?  It's a really tricky one...

    I'd be super keen for some discussion on this list.  What do you reckon I should have had?  What was I lucky to not need?  Is there anything I should have left?  Comments please!!

    Postscript:  here's packing list 5.0 (January 2013)


    1. Good call on the 2.2 inch raven. No mention of a map as back up to the GPS?

      As always, loved reading your blog! You completed the entire Brevet most excellently, from months before through to your latest post. Your success is hard-earned and much deserved.


    2. I think you had it pretty close to perfect (except for the no sleeping gear IMO). The 69er carbon bike was ideal from what I could see (too many gears maybe). Although I got a bit worried at the start that I was carrying too much - especially when I saw what minimal gear you Simon and Olly seemed to be carrying - I was very glad in the end to have my sleeping bag, Neoair blowup sleepmat and tarp shelter. My most memorable night (other than the Awatere haybarn in the pouring rain) was sleeping on the side of the road sometime after McDonald Downs under an incredible starry sky in total blissed out exhausted comfort.
      Anyway I have really enjoyed reading your blog and riding with you for some of the trip - Great Times!!


    3. I thought of something else I would've liked to have. I coveted Tim's neoprene sunnies strap several times during the event. With the amount of night-time riding I did, it would have been handy not to have to stash tehm in a jersey pocket, or tucked down my front...