Jul 23, 2010

Equipment Review

The time has arrived to do the equipment review before studies starts vying for space in my mind. Posting might become irregular/cease to exists if the academic load keeps on piling up.
Starting off with things i didn't find as useful or wouldn't take again would probably be the easiest.
  • Shoes- even after reading about the nature of the event i really didn't grasp how much walking there was going to be. Stupid me. With the backpack and trying to conserve energy i soon lost the urge to cycle to the top of every hill. Also certain hills were aptly renamed 'prostaat bulte'. Marnitz arguable had the best shoes i saw in the race, Shimano SPD boot. Actually anything except normal cycling shoes would have worked, even tekkies would have been too bad for the first week. That said i'm still really impressed with the abuse and bashing that my Mavic Razor shoes took and they're still going strong(ish).  
  • Gloves- i used full fingered gloves just about every day worked fine. However instead of buying a pair of wind proof gloves i opted to go for the surgical glove approach. One pair inside and one as outer layer over gloves. Even though this probably saved me from some frostbite;-), my hands were still freezing. On certain days even with Grabber hand warmers inside. So next time wind proof gloves.
  • Socks- Normal woolen socks worked just fine (the R30 ones in cycle shops), but for the first part of the race, especially with the cold and river crossing sealskin socks would have been worth their weight in gold. Definitely not attempting this again without them and decent shoes.
  • Condensed milk in 2l boxes. Even though his seemed to be a great idea at the time, we skipped a lot of the support stations which meant that spending a couple of hours outside having some great snack and appreciating the scenery was simply put, impossible. One Can would be able to tell his friends about an amazing night hike over Lehanas and another spectacular 400km's of travelling before falling prey to some farmers kitchen.
  • Maxxis Monorail. Given it held out pretty well, could see the side pattern taking some serious abuse from the trail and my riding style, but never had a puncture, side wall cuts or any problems which means that either i was very lucky or that its a great tire. Most likely both. The problems that i had with it was that with the extra 10kg's (from overeating at all the great support stations ;-) ) it broke loose a lot earlier on the dirt and wasn't as responsive to being pushed into corners. With the extra weight it was really unpredictable in sand, getting thrown around a lot. Also through the Karoo saw a lot of dark spots from sludge sealing punctures, had some every night on the back wheel but almost never had any on front tire. Next time just going to stick with CrossMarks, really good all terrain tire.
  • Bike
Things that worked really well.
  • Backpack- i used a Karrimor Airspace 35l. The airspace system works really well for cycling, especially as you change your posture a lot. Only thing i would change is the side pockets for food. Most people recommend not taking anything above 25l, gives too much lee way for taking 'luxury' items, but after a while packing everything neatly becomes a drag, more so when you have to rush to be in time for the Commander(sorry for late mornings)
  • Bike
  • Camera. Even if you're planning to do the route in 10days i would still take one along. Helps retain those trail side memories, especially for the more age challenged participants ;-).
  • Chocolate bars and slabs, distinctly remember one Milo slab had an extremely short lifetime just before Trouthaven.
  • Lightweight outdoor specific clothing. Even though it does become quite expensive this is the one area i really didn't mind spending some extra cash on, see list later.
What was in the backpack:
  • Mavic Helium jacket. Had it on almost everyday. Best thing apart from being wind and waterproof was the ventilation zips, great for controlling temperature and not stopping to add/remove layers as much.
  • Helly Hansen base layer. Had it on almost everyday, would rather take two of these instead of the long sleeve base layer. Quite expensive but worked a lot better than my other base layers.
  • First Ascent long sleeve base layer. Only had it on once, had to stop to remove it later it the day which isn't really the idea of a base layer. Eventually relegated to evening wear.
  • Two cycling shirts. The pockets didn't really bother me, probably from the airspace.
  • Two cycling bibs. Vermark and Mavic, just to alternate the chafing and allocation of saddle sores. Really wouldn't skimp money here, even though you are most likely going to get saddle sores good quality kit just helps reduce the discomforts.
  • Long sleeve cycling shirt. Nice as extra layer.
  • First Ascent Firestorm fleece top. Used the long sleeve cycling shirt more, but also worked well.
  • First Ascent flash flood pants. Never needed them on the bike, but good waterproof layer, and doubled up as evening wear.
  • First Ascent powerstretch tights. Had them on most mornings, felt that it was sufficient even in the -12'C starts (maybe because my hands and feet were too cold to feel anything else).
  •  First Ascent Dry-Lite Jacket. Even though i never wore it while cycling this is a perfect light weight waterproof jacket for those soaking/freezing days. Packed it for the snow storms, luckily didn't need it.
  • Cycling booties. Rather take sealskin socks, these were a toe saver on the early starts, but not really made for those portages.
  • Windproof earwarmers. Nuff said.
  • Leg - and Arm warmers. The arm warmers worked really well through the Karoo with cold starts and warmer days as it is easy to take off while cycling. Didn't use the leg warmers as much would leave it next time and just take tights.
  • Socks, Gloves, Helmet and all those accessories.

Spares and Mechanical:
  • Disc pads*2.Had another set in box somewhere but wanted a pair with me.
  • Chain. In one of boxes after about 1000km.
  • Spokes. Had a couple just in case, doesn't really weight anything and worth it.
  • Gear cable. Would take two next time.
  • Multitool. No brainer. Leatherman also usefull.
  • Duct tape. Had one roll with me, boxed another one but donated it as dog food.
  • Hose clamps. Two small ones and two big ones for the worst case scenarios.
  • Cable ties. Whatever you can't fix with cable ties and duct tape isn't worth fixing. :-)
  • Two extra tubes, puncture kit and plugs.
  • Sludge. Had two bottles in separate boxes, left one and carried the other one. Luckily didn't need it.
About the bike:
Rode (and still riding) a Mongoose hardtail. The only mechanical i had was a broken bottle cage. The only thing i would change on the bike is the shock, with the type of riding and the extra weight i would prefer something with a bit more travel, 100-120mm. Note to self, old Fox terra logic shocks doesn't seem to pick up corrugation. That said Glen did it on a rigid singlespeed so can't really complain.

1 comment:

  1. I would say 30l is about right. there is minimal weight gain over a 25l pack and just makes it easier to stuff it all in.

    weather is always pot luck. you were unlucky with extreme cold, but lucky with no rain.

    i also thought that sealskinz were unneccessary, i now own a pair (that have hardly been used).

    i'm very undecided on best shoe route.

    looks like you did home work right.