The Leadville 100 is just a couple weeks away, and I’ve got a problem: I don’t know what bike to ride, or how to set my bike up.

This is not the first time I’ve had this problem. I’ve puzzled over whether I ought to ride the full-suspension bike or the hardtail (not a choice this year, since I no longer own a full-suspension bike). I’ve pondered over whether to ride with a Camelbak, or go with bottles. I’ve agonized over the virtues of low rolling resistance versus good traction.

This year, though, is different.

This year, I’m not sure what to ride or how to set up my bike because my right shoulder is still separated, and still hurts like crazy. I can’t lift my arm above shoulder level, and only barely am able to stand and climb for any length of time (like, I can now climb standing for five minutes).

I’m going to explain the things I’m considering, and would appreciate your feedback.

Which Bike?
This is the biggest decision I have to make, and it’s a tough one. Here’s why I haven’t made up my mind yet.

  • The WaltWorks: If I hadn’t crashed recently, I’d be riding my fully rigid steel 29″ singlespeed, for certain. Dug, Brad and I had this great plan for riding the entire race together, Brad slumming at Dug’s and my speed. But right now I’m not sure that by the time the race begins (August ninth), I’ll be able to do the race on that bike. Singlespeeding requires upper body strength — constant pulling up on the handlebars — that I just don’t have right now. Will I have that strength back by 8/9? I don’t know. I worry about risking it.
  • The Superfly: If I ride a geared bike, I’ll be able to remain seated for more of the race. And this isn’t exactly a slouch of a geared bike. But if I ride this bike, it’ll be just one more year of me riding a geared hardtail, but slower (much, much slower) than usual. What’s the excitement in that? And I won’t match Dug and Brad as we ride along together, wearing our sombreros and merrily singing a tune at the back of the pack.

So, say I decide to go with the WaltWorks…which is what I really, in my heart-of-hearts, want to do. Should I put a suspension fork on it? It seems like that would help my shoulder, but my shoulder usually gets hurt not from the up-and-down of rolling over rocks, but from sudden, unanticipated lurches where I try to recapture my balance after losing traction. A suspension fork won’t help with that.

Or, suppose I go with the Superfly? Is it OK for me to put a basket on the front?

The Real Question
Really, what I’m trying to figure out is: What is the bike setup that will give me the best chance of finishing this race in spite of my total lack of training, and in spite of my messed up shoulder, while still giving me a good, believable excuse in the event that I wimp out and bail?

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