Thoughts on Training Equipment

I’m on this planet once that I know of. I say that a lot. A whole lot. I don’t have the answers to what happens next. I know what I’d like, but I don’t have a vote. As a result, I give a lot of thought to what I want my ride on this rock to be.

I want to enjoy myself.

For some, that means perpetual laziness, doing as little that’s not immediately recreational as possible. In high school a buddy told me he planned to do all he could to stay stoned for the rest of his life. He was of the opinion that going through his entire life baked was the best possible scenario. He’s a hospital administrator now. What happened in between is an event I’m not privy to.

As I said, I’d like to enjoy myself while I’m here. For me, that means riding, spending time with my family, and writing as much as possible. Good writing is work in its truest sense, but in that endeavor I can lose myself for hours. It’s terrific fun and a process in which I discover something new about the world with each new sentence. Me, a Mac and a blank Microsoft Word document is a party.

So where does all this intersect with training equipment? Easy. Why ride crap? It’s one thing if you’ve got the income of a college student on work study, but if you’re gainfully employed and not putting six kids through Yale, then you probably spend a bit on bike stuff here and there.

People come up with a lot of crazy rules—and I don’t mean any of the stuff that winds up before the Supreme Court. I’m referring to the idea that some equipment you just don’t ride except in extraordinary circumstances, like the five races one might do per year.

Back when I raced every weekend, I had a great set of wheels that I did keep as my dedicated race wheels. They were tubulars and I didn’t train on them because I didn’t want to risk knocking them out of true or flatting them the day before a race. Some of this is rooted in another age’s practicality. If your history in racing goes back to the time of stuff like Fiamme Red label rims which would flat-spot on a driveway ramp, then you may recall that keeping wheels true could be as hard as keep a meth addict clean. I can recall feeling that I’d been introduced to the secret handshake when I learned that wheels would stay true for longer if as you built them you concentrated on keeping tension even on all the spokes.

Wheels are far more durable today.

So how much use were my finicky race wheels receiving? When I was actively racing I might spend as many as 30 days riding them in a year. That’s one month out of 12. Seems kinda sad to think my life only measured up to my best equipment one-twelfth of the time.

I stopped racing a few years back.

This year, if I recall correctly, I rode three gran fondos. I’d like to have ridden more, but injuries set the agenda, so-to-speak. What I can’t fathom is why I would own a set of wheels that I would reserve just for those days. In my mind the math goes: I only ride my good wheels on special days. I only had three special days. I rode my wheels three times. Why make the investment if you’re never going to use them? And any piece of equipment that gets ridden on three of 365 days really isn’t getting used.

The hell with that. I want as many great days on the bike as I can have. And if I own a piece of equipment that increases my enjoyment when out riding, I see no point in not riding it. Enjoyment is a motivation virus. The more fun something is, the more I want to do it. If I have a truly exceptional ride one day, I’m that much more inclined to make sure I don’t miss my next ride.

The converse is all the corollary you need: When you’re hurt, your motivation for getting on the bike is at perigee. Who will get on a bike if riding is only going to be a source of pain, not suffering, but pain?

Let me back up a minute. I can see a certain logic to a set of wheels that maybe you reserve just for the weekend. Some of my weekday rides take in more sand than I’d like and roads that can be rough on wheels. I can see putting a lesser set of wheels on for a few rides a week.

Let’s look at this from a different angle. Most nights, I have a glass of wine, maybe two, with dinner. I will occasionally open a bottle that runs as much as a decent tire. The problem is that it lasts at absolute most three dinners. Then it’s gone. Imagine having a bottle of wine that you pay for once and can drink every night for a couple of years. If that were the case I’d be drinking $100 Russian River Pinots every flippin’ night.

Why spend $5000 (or more) on a bike and then ride it in a cheap pair of bibs and with crap wheels? Who would only use an $800 GPS on their big rides? My wife would shoot me if I only wore my good helmet on the weekend.

Owning a great set of wheels or a killer pair of bibs means having the tools to enjoy a better experience. If this blog is about anything, it’s about enjoying cycling. You shouldn’t suffer because your cheap saddle is uncomfortable. You should suffer because you drilled it at the front with the group single file behind you for 2k.

I’ve never been in the army, but I think they had it right: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

47 comments

  1. Bikelink

    I think it’s clearer when you are focused on racing. I don’t have SUPER fancy race wheels (AC 420s) and could ride them every day, but have open pro 32 spoke ‘training wheels.’ Are these less fun to ride? Actually they fell more stable/comfortable (or at least give me peace of mind that I’m riding rock solid wheels) and I’m more likely to get home if I break a spoke or hit something hard. The difference in wind resistance doesn’t matter much in most group rides (a little more when you are at the front, but not appreciable unless going really fast, and not at all on hills)….and since it’s ‘training’ riding that makes sense anyhow. I could see if you weren’t racing anymore, using carbon clinchers and enjoying being faster more, but I’d separate ‘faster’ from ‘better’ as two different things…faster might be one part of better, but better also includes ride quality and the likelihood of getting home without calling for help.

  2. Mo'Nilla

    Race wheels are great as long as you don’t have to depend on your bike to get home on. That said, I feel bad enough about destroying several 8 or 9 hundred dollar wheelsets on the streets of LA proper to consider it asinine to risk a set of Zipp 404s there. Like the above post notes, more spokes beats more steps. YMMV.

  3. Pablo

    I agree. Use them if you got ‘em.
    However, when I raced I did keep a set of ‘race wheels’. Not so much for fear of damaging or flatting them but because I would train on heavier wheels. I would bring the ‘race’ wheels out for all races but also for hard training rides meant to replicate race effort.

    When I stopped racing I sold my ‘training’ stuff and today still ride my ‘race’ bike/wheels…

  4. Vmac

    Hear, hear. I am always a bit mystified when confronted with the training vs racing argument. For me, since I am most decidedly not a pro, the training vs. racing distinction is an artificial and irrelevant delineation. I get every bit as much satisfaction from many training rides as from racing. As with everything, it’s not black and white… I’m not going to ride my (cheap) carbon clinchers in the rain or on a commuter, but I certainly have no qualms at all riding them on training rides chasing my faster friends and teammates — which I enjoy more than any race.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      All: Thanks for your comments. I haven’t understood the logic of saving the good stuff, but then I was raised in a family where my great-grandmother used to say: Don’t save the crystal and china for company.

  5. The_D

    Perfect timing! Through a weird series of circumstances, I now have zero rideable AL wheelsets but two sets of deep dish carbon tubs, one very good (Reynolds SDV66T) and one great (Firecrest 404T’s), all of which are shod with fairly fresh Corsa CX’s. These, like the rest of my bike, ensure that suffering varies proportionately with effort, inversely with fitness, and independently of any equipment compromise. Moreover, as epic descents in awful weather are a rare occurrence here in N. Tex, I don’t “need” AL wheels regularly. So, yes, I fully agree with Padraig’s point on this.

    However, I do like to travel with the bike, and, however well-built the Zipps and Reynolds, carbon brake tracks and supple tubs seem a bit, you know… precious to take on adventures on unknown roads, esp. as all prime destinations involve unfamiliar mountains in remote areas. Further, the “backup” Reynolds are worth more to me than to a willing buyer, so I’m probably not setting them. What I am saying is, to Bikelink’s point, I see this an an excuse to obsess over a adding cool set of stable, durable “classics” wheels to my stable. Yes, defying probability, this makes me even more of a Fred. Fine. However, it doesn’t me a truly horrible person, does it?

  6. Wayne

    Race equipment needs to be only durable enough to finish the race. I understand event wheels but not race wheels if you do not have race support. If I spend time training and take time off work for an event the last thing I want to happen is to have good legs and then have an equipment failure. I would rather equipment fail on a training ride than during an event.

    Special wheels for events – sure but they still have to be durable wheels. Of course I only ride for fun and others have different priorities.

    Wayne

  7. armybikerider

    I agree! Why endure “crap” equipment and gear if it detracts from the cycling experience? On the other hand…”crap”…..”better”….”cheap” (both qualitatively and quantitatively) are all subjective and relative terms that are hard to define let alone defend. Are my $400 Fulcrum wheels “crap?” After 12,000 miles I don’t think so…I rather like them. They aren’t Zipps, but I don’t really think I NEED Zipp wheels to enjoy riding my bike. Do the Fulcrums detract from my enjoyment of riding my bike? Absolutely not. I’ve swapped out my wheels for some lightweight carbons when a guy was trying to sell them to me, and I wasn’t impressed enough that I thought they made the ride significantly different so I kept my “crap” wheels. I don’t use high dollar sunglasses, in fact the shades I do use would likely be labeled “crap” by many here, but do they detract from the experience of riding my bike? I don’t think so. I simply choose not to spend the money on something that I think is unnecessary. I actually LIKE Performance branded bibs. Are they “crap?” I don’t think so, but the guy I dropped on the climb in $300 Assos bibs last weekend probably thinks so. Do I give a “crap” what he thinks? Hell no, because to me they actually make the ride enjoyable, with a fit and finish that’s acceptable to me. I can afford more expensive gear, and sometimes I do spend more – if it makes sense to me. $2,000 wheels, $300 sunglasses, $300 bibs simply don’t make sense to me.

    That’s what I think is important….the individual’s perception of “crap” or “better” or “cheap” and I am certainly NOT in a position to apply those qualitative labels to the gear choices of other riders, even though that attitude is extremely pervasive in the cycling world. I tell people all the time, when they comment on my ‘expensive” bike and gear…it’s not the cost of the gear, it’s the fact that I am out there riding my bike. I’ve seen too many people NOT get into this sport due to their inability to afford quality gear, when they should actually be encouraged to ride what they’ve got and ignore the naysayers who focus on gear selection.

    And I AM in the Army….it’s one highly INefficient organization, with wasteful practices around every corner, uncontrolled spending and no eye towards conservation of assets or resources.

  8. A Stray Velo

    Ahhh…you are not alone in your beliefs about gear. This hobby and all those shiny pretty things that go along with it are all meant to be used and thoroughly enjoyed.

    “When I was actively racing I might spend as many as 30 days riding them in a year. That’s one month out of 12. Seems kinda sad to think my life only measured up to my best equipment one-twelfth of the time.”

    When you say it like this it really sinks in. Great post!

  9. todd k

    I concur with Padraig that most wheels these days are quite durable. Race wheels included. Most wheels are generally durable for the riding that most people do day to day even if those rides are quite long. More than likely the wheels in question are simply over kill for most riding undertaken by most folks. Yeah, if your ride is 90% unavoidable potholes, you may want to avoid certain low spoke wheels. But you can still spend some significant money on wheels that are tailor made for such conditions.

    I tend to also agree that if you have some pricey wheels you should put them to use and get significant mileage out of them. It makes it easier to justify the expense. Looking at this another way, if you are only getting about 300 miles of riding out of a set of wheels (3 gran fondo type events) per year you are likely under utilizing the wheels. They can/should easily stand up to several thousand miles under typical use. We can extrapolate this beyond wheels as well. (Kits, shoes, helmets….)

    One thing that resonates in discussions I have had with others is that most folks tend to want to avoid the likelihood that their pricey items will wear out or show use from if they are standard day to day use. All items wear out when used. But people seem more sensitive to pricey items wearing out or showing wear due to normal day to day use. For a variety of reasons people want their pricey items to look pristine. E.G. “ It would be really sad if I hit a pot hole and gouged my carbon wheel on my lunchtime training ride. If that must occur, I would prefer it happen on that Gran Fondo event I am riding next summer. ” Tragedy vs Epic Tragedy.

  10. nrs5000

    Padraig– I first came to the realization that life was too short to ride crap gear from your post a couple years ago about high end open tubulars. Since then I’ve ditched cheap tires without regret. The point holds for lots of other pieces of gear too.

  11. stevep

    Life is too busy and short to not enjoy every ride to the fullest. Budget and impractical gear aside, I use my best gear every time I ride. Don’t worship gear – use it, wear it out, break it.

  12. Clark

    I ride a pair of HED Ardennes aluminum clinchers day in and day out, races included. In the 1400g neighborhood, they are lighter than most carbon clinchers (and about half the price), and the wider rim makes them roll faster and somewhat more aero than a standard rim. Plus they are imbued with excellent ride quality (the “singing” sound they create when rolling anywhere above about 18-20mph is also quite satisfying).

    Except for those looking for a distinct aero advantage, I don’t think there’s a better wheelset out there (especially for the price).

    About a year ago, I had the rare luxury of having some disposable funds from an insurance settlement; roughly enough to purchase a power meter or set of aero carbon tubulars. After much debate, I decided the power meter was a tool I’d use on every single ride (irrespective of if/when I “retire” from amateur racing), and haven’t had an ounce of buyer’s remorse with the choice I made.

  13. Adam

    Recent carbon wheels have gotten so good that with general maintenance and the avoidance of a huge crash they should last you a very long time. Conservatively, if you get 15,000 miles out of a pair of Zipp 404′s and you’re average ride length is 50 miles you’re paying $7.60 per use, and $5.75 if you get 20,000 out of them. People spend that on a latte (or a beer, or data plans or whatever makes them happy), if you think it increases the enjoyment of your ride, and your ride is many times the best part of your day, then it’s a bargain.

  14. Fat Monte

    What if 90.9% of success in competition is mental? Mental preparation, focus, visualization? In that regard, having race-only equipment and kit is part of the pre-race process. To pull out the special wheel set two days before a big race and fix them to your bike is to acknowledge the specialness of the event, to begin to fix it in your mind, to prepare your steed for battle. To lay out your race-day kit — socks, killer bibs, jersey — is as much to suit up in armor (or superhero cape) as it is to begin to steel one’s mind for the challenge ahead.

    The special, precious race-only bits are part of the process, the mental transition from practice to competition. It builds the anticipation, the excitement. Ignore the pre-race rituals of competition and enjoy a ground view of the winner’s podium later.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Clark: You know, I’d really love to review some of the HED wheels. They are really intriguing. That said, I dropped by their booth twice during Interbike and couldn’t get anyone there to even acknowledge my presence.

      Adam: Word.

      Fat Monte: Excellent points. I’m not arguing against racing or having good equipment for racing. I’m just arguing against have great equipment that gets used only 10 times a year.

  15. Tim Lane

    Patrick, I love this article. I never could understand the rational behind having a garage full of clapped out bikes.
    Give me one bike (I’ll accept one per cycling discipline) that I love to ride and let all other bikes live up to their potential by donating to friends to bring them in to cycling, or selling to more thrifty enthusiasts. Bikes are for riding, so ride!

  16. ben

    Padraig-
    For us folks that are closer to the “college student on a work study” salary than dentist/lawyer/CEO salary…what about reviewing some wheels that won’t break our budgets? I feel a bit left out of the Zipp/Easton uber-wheel debate (not that you need to tailor your blog for me…just sayin’) b/c I’ll never, barring a lotto-win or significant increase in teacher-pay, own those wheels.
    I noticed a Neuvation wheel in the photo and I know that Williams and Revolution (amongst others) all make more budget-friendly carbon wheels. Of course the question is then, is the increase in cost for those low-budget carbon wheels worth (aerodynamics/ride-quality)it over a decent $500-600 allow wheelset? The word on the street that I hear is that those lower-budget carbon wheels are not good…but is it just snobbery? Obviously they’re not Zipps, but would they be worth my $ as I think about upgrading my race-wheels.
    I personally still like the ride-feel of 32 spoke wheels w/ box-rims. Especially on rough roads. Though I’ve never ridden carbons, I do note that PROs always seem to do their winter-training on old-school wheels due to their proven durability, repairability, comfort, etc.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      All: Thanks for the lively comments. I will admit that if I was still racing I’d have a set of wheels set aside just for the big day. But the stuff I ride today is so much more durable than what I was racing on through the ’80s and ’90s, durability isn’t the issue it once was. And as I’m no longer racing, I need all the help I can get for riding at the front.

      Regarding those less expensive carbon wheelsets from companies like Neuvation, Wheelbuilder and Williams, my experience has been they are a great way to purchase more performance without raiding the college fund (yours or anyone else’s). I’m all for getting 80% of the performance for 50% of the price. If you’re comparing to Zipp, maybe it’s more like 60% of the performance for 25% of the price. Seems a good deal to me. I need to revisit some of those in the new year. I’ve always loved a smart buy, which is why you’ll see Sampson stuff crop up for review here and there.

      Regarding rough road riding, I should mention the old school approach of 32 or 36 spokes and a box rim is still really valid. If I was still riding in Massachusetts over the frost-heaved roads near my former home, I gotta say that a bunch of spokes at a lower tension combined with a heavy-duty tubular on a box rim would be my choice on many days. Low-spoke count wheels depend on high tension to remain stiff and they definitely send more shock through to the rider. O

      I’ve seen some photos of Rik van Looy in training. The Emporer of Herentals, as I understand it, always raced on tied-and-soldered wheels. In the training shots I saw, which I took to be just before he rolled out, his wheels were not tied-and-soldered. My takeaway was that he didn’t want to train on wheels that were as stiff as his race-day stuff.

      So there’s that.

  17. Souleur

    perhaps I am in the minority on this one, but that’s ok.

    I say ride the crap, ride it like its crap, and don’t worry a bit about it, that is if crap is mavic open pro’s laced up nicely by hand to your favorite cheap ultegra or dura ace hubs for a mere $300 or $400. Mine are some refurbed zipp 101′s lace up to open pro’s. I hit pot holes and don’t give a care, i bunny hop and don’t give a care, hell, if i could i would lay skid marks and slap the ladies on the beehives rouling into work everyday if i felt so inclined…and somedays i do

    nonetheless, the deeper reason why i do ride these hoops, is because my race zipps are lighter, by a boatload. I notice it immediately, and on race day, its like someone let loose the anchor I normally drag behind, and I am inspired.

    My normal trainer is steel. Its a smidgen heavier, but butter smooth. Its old, 10yrs old. I have some older dura ace 7700, 7800 and all on it, and actually older shifters, but its all bombproof and durable. I love it actually, each bolt, each part, is all known to me.

    My race bike is set up for just that, race. SRAM force grouppo, and all the goodies, no doubt its not Tune, Red or the lite weight weenie stuff, but I don’t loose sleep over a crash or laying this down either. I just hate the thought to have a problem with this girl simply training or commuting. Dressed up for the prom, she comes in at ~16lbs, and that is quite durable actually as is.

    Nonetheless, from going from one bike to the other, I appreciate a huge difference, on training days, its what I NEED. A bit heavier, a bit less responsiveness, heavier inertia. On race day, let the hounds loose…its funner.

  18. naisan

    I’ve got one pair of wheels: Zipp 303 cross tubulars shod with veloflex roubaix.

    I’ve ridden tens of thousands of miles on them, never trued them once, and enjoy every minute I ride them.

    If I was racing I’d put my cheap wheels on for races so some squirrel wouldn’t cost me a pair of 303s.

  19. DavidA

    Great posts everyone!!! im kind of in the stone-age when it comes to wheelsets. I spent most of the 1980′s racing on 32 hole GP4s bulit by differant shops in Belgium all tied and soldered. they were tight and true and took beatings that most carbon wheels couldnt hold up to. That said i have a pair of Reynolds Solitude wheels not that light but nice for me. My training wheels are Mavic Askiums and 32 hole campy Mavic Open Pros, again old-school equipment that takes a beating. If i reach the same level as Patrick Cocquyet (51 yrs and still racing elites/pro kermis races) Ill get a pr of Zipp 303s….maybe sooner LOL..check this youtube film out..Een dagje in het wiel van Patrick Cocquyet..this is how a 50 yr old rolls….

  20. Touriste-Routier

    I think this all depends on how you define satisfaction, enjoyment and when you want your best performances to be.

    I am decidedly old school. I was this way when I had little disposable income and was racing every weekend, and I am this way even with the ability to afford more things and racing little but riding Gran Fondos more.

    To me it wasn’t really about the fragility of my race/event wheels; my race/event wheels always have been strong enough for every day riding, but one of wanting to save the best equipment for the days that matter most to me. If I ride my bomb proof heavy wheels in training, than on race/event day I feel like I am flying. Placebo effect or not, it would be lost if I used the race/event wheels everyday.

    Of course my most expensive wheels are a $700 set of demo HED Ardennes, and my training wheels cost less than $250, so my cost per ride is rather low. Personally I can’t imagine dropping more than $1000 on wheels, let alone >$2000. To me it is about enjoying the “ride”, not the equipment per se- I don’t need deep section carbon rims or aero spokes to do this

  21. marc b

    @Clark,

    I’ve been riding my Ardennes every ride- about 5x per week, including dirt roads and commuting- for several years now. I’ve only just worn through the rear rim (and its replacement was quickly and easily handled by HED). I’m back on my 1,400g wheels for several more years of abuse. Can’t see hanging them up and spending additional money to ‘save’ them. Now my silk undepants on the other hand…

  22. Ron

    That’s awesome!

    If you ride daily, you need to be happy, enjoy it, and be comfortable. Ride the nice stuff! I do! Took me a bit to come around to it, but now I do and it nice, nice as to always be riding Rolls style.

    Don’t save ‘em, Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em!

  23. jaas

    carbon clincher durability example. sample size 1.

    Me- 160 lbs, cat 3. Rides/races 100-300 miles per week most weeks. Have been using the same carbon clinchers (famous brand) for three years in all conditions and roads including rain, dirt roads, weekly hammer rides that have repeating railroad tracks and potholes. crashed in 3 races resulting in at least one broken spoken and needing a re-trueing. but the rims themselves are fine. At this point the only way I am going to ruin the rim is with a crash that would ruin an alloy rim or a hot descent such as the malibu descents mentioned by padraig at other times. I don’t train on my tubulars b/c of the difficulty i have changing tubulars.

    At least for me….if you got it, ride it.

  24. mark

    @ben Retail price for high zoot wheels is for suckers. I have a pair of EC90 wheels that cost me $750. Just be patient and watch Craig’s list and bike forums. If you know what you want and know how to evaluate the condition it’s in, there’s little risk in buying used.

    If you want to buy new, check out Revolution Wheelworks. Their stuff is rock solid and half the price of Zipp/Easton/Reynolds. I have a set of Revolution wheels as well, and I would not say the quality is inferior to my Eastons in any way.

    I would also like to mention that riding my Easton tubulars on training rides is uniquely gratifying, especially since my training rides take me up and down beautiful canyon roads that we never get the chance to race on.

  25. Lachlan

    Late to the discussion, but it seems pretty clear in general, as it has been in my riding life:

    - when your’re racing lots, keep something special in perfect condition for the weekend, so it’s ready to rock and gives you a mental pep too. (as Padraig did)
    - when you’re not, then enjoy your good stuff whenever you have the chance (as Pardraig does now)

    Part of the joy of cycling is the joy of owning and maintaining a beautiful machine that you become part of. No matter what price level that’s at. So enjoying the best you’ve got just adds to the beauty of each ride.

  26. Lachlan

    Ps. price does help, with wheels more than most places. BUT in the few sets I regularly use I have some that are 10 times the cost of the cheapest. Obviously they ride like a dream, however, the cheapest ones (that were stock on one of my bikes) ride much much nicer than some of the ones in the middle were are 3 or more times the price. So even these days, with such massive price ranges in bike kit, it is still not all about the money thank god.

  27. Walt

    Just thought I would add my 2 cents to the discussion. A few folks mentioned they were Old School. By comparison, I guess I can be categorized Old Old School. When I was commuting to work in the 70s, I had an old Stella that I road every day. I rode it in the rain, the snow, and on bright sunny days too. It was nothing special and it worked well for the purpose. Then the Bike Bug really bit, which entailed buying much more sophisticated and expensive equipment. I cringed at the thought of riding Campy Record equipment in the same conditions that I rode the Stella in. As a consequence, I have much outdated, yet perfectly serviceable old bike equipment that still has thousands of miles of use in it ahead. The point is, I saved the good stuff for those special days, and now the equipment is way past state of the art. If I had to do over, I would have ridden the heck out of all the equipment I have. Bikes and equipment are meant to be used. Period.

    Walt

  28. Ely

    I ride Parigi Roubaix tires, they cost usually $100 each. I burn through them like crazy. I love really expensive tires that don’t last. They feel good and they make me want to ride a lot. I have other tires on other bikes, they are fine, but it’s not the same.
    I used to think, use tires that are more durable. No thanks.
    There has never been a durable tire that feels like a really nice Challenge or Veloflex, or some other really thing nice tire that gets a lot of flats.
    I ride every day and when I go on long or fast rides, I always use my really expensive tires.
    I have always referred to myself as a “tourist” on this planet, just passing through. I want to taste what it has to offer and I want know that I flew up that hill as fast as I could, or descended into that headwind as fast as I could.
    Or rode to that bakery 80 miles away, feeling like my bike is singing. It’s worth it.
    If you got em’, smoke em’ because we aint gonna be on this planet much longer.
    I only have 60 more good years in me. The first 40 were pretty good.

  29. Pete Nightingale

    I have a whole rave bike!

    Now my regular MTB isn’t too shabby, a Gary Fisher CF hardtail. And that doesn’t even get the most miles, those are done on the Dawes Audax Supreme I commute on.

    But the logic is that I don’t want to race, or go into long enduros with worn out kit, I want to blast off on new stuff!

    If you run two bikes this is quite simple, when the hack bike’s chain is ready for a change, you take the one off the race bike and put it on the hack, replacing it with new. Same with pedals, forks, tyres etc. this means that I get maximum life out of my parts while racing on new and cascading some still very nice kit on my hack bike.

  30. Martin

    Perigee? Do you mean apogee in this context? Otherwise, your sentiments are spot on! Now need to ensure that all my kit meets this standard, for these reasons – roll on Christmas!

  31. TimB

    Whilst it’s nice to ride on nice stuff, there’s something special about having your Race Wheels for race day – it’s a psycological thing as much as anything. Train hard on heavy kit, then when you put the race wheels on you’re that much faster. It’s like riding on a mountain bike with fat, knobbly tyres and then switching to the road bike.
    But then I race, so I want every edge. However, I do train on my race bike so that I am comfortable in the race (time trial) position.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Martin: Nope. Perigee. If getting on the bike hurts, you’re not going to be motivated to get on the bike.

      All: I’ve got nothing against saving good stuff for race day, provided you’re actually racing with some frequency. That said, I must admit if I were racing crits right now, I wouldn’t be excited about rolling up on a Tarmac SL4 with Zipp 404s. I’d be terrified that someone else’s clipped pedal would destroy $12k of my bike stuff.

  32. Slim

    I agree with Padraig (thanks Donut for linking to this blog) about UIOLI. As a former racer my stash of tubulars are now being put to good use puttering around on some 36 hole boxers though have low spoke sets in the wings. A gift to myself after competitive cycling retirement was replacing the custom carbon “criterium geometry” frameset with a custom carbon “road geometry” frameset.

    Just cringed a bit recently at buying a nice pair of shorts. In the past they been an annual gift given to me by a very good friend. Geez they’ve gotten expensive, lol.

  33. pdxvelo

    the problem with riding “race” wheels when not racing is that one is automatically lumped into the FRED category. there may be a distinction between the cool guy ex-racer and the new FRED but its not much. the line is blurred more when everyone’s on deep dish carbon rims. i’d much rather be on a group ride where everyone had aluminum rims/brake tracks, especially if the ride is infiltrated with FREDs. i cant tell you how many times someone has shown up to the party only to ef it up with their ‘race’ wheels and poor handling.

  34. crankles

    LOL..loved this and agreed with just about all of this. The fiamme red label ref. killed me. I was even light enough in the late 70s to race on fiamme golds. They were so soft i swear they went out of true when exposed to light..
    The only diff now between my “race” wheels and training wheels are tires. Paves for training, Corsa for racing. I’m so done with crap tires/wheels.

  35. Deezil

    Hand-built clinchers with 32/36 spoke and box-section rims are all anyone needs, ever…unless you are at risk for being piss-tested in July. One of my favorite sights: A $10,000 bike laying in the ditch while its owner tries to figure out what to do with a fancy-schmancy wheel that just exploded like a candy cigar. Life IS short…so get equipment that will actually let you ride your bike.

  36. Bob R

    All fun stuff. For me, like most of this group, the point is ride whatever gear makes you happy. As I have gotten older, I have nicer gear than I used to have because I can but the ride is still the ride. I am faster than some and slower than others — gear will never change that fact. Share/sell extra gear as you upgrade so that someone else can enjoy, get out, ride and keep the rubber side down. Cheers.

  37. mark

    Exactly. Have fun and ride whatever you want. You do only live once and
    everybody has their own ways to live by that rule. In my younger race days, i didn’t have too many other priorities on life to worry about, but now that i’m older, having a super high-end fancy bike just isn’t a requirement. I need to ride stuff that is affordable, works well, lasts for a while, and can survive the occasional mishap.

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