With only 12 weeks to go until the start of my 2013 challenge, it is time to decide on the bike setup. I will use my race bike — Canondale SuperSix Hi-Mod with SRAM red gruppo. This will be the first time I take this bike on a plane; typically I take my Ritchey BreakAway bike on flights (no additional charges and small travel box). I don’t anticipate flying often with my race bike so would prefer to rent/buy a used travel bag/box (suggestions welcome!).
Living in the flatlands of Chicago I have a standard 53-39 crankset with Quark powermeter but my wife Shannon has compact 34-50 with Quark. (My cross race bike also has SRAM BB30’s so we can interchange drive trains; hey, I teach about the merits of common components!) Questions to decide: what gearing and wheels to use? This blog is on the gearing; next one will be on the wheels.
Coming home from work this Friday a package from SRAM was awaiting me on the dinner table:
The coincidence with Gerry’s new pacha order on this same day is eery. Gerry Paterson, who lives in Nîmes, France, is also embarking on the same Haute Route challenge. His blog has been very insightful, including on the choice of crankset and gearing–do read the comments too! At one point I was considering keeping my standard crank but the suggestions on Gerry’s blog to “think about how you will feel in day 5″ and “to have a backup gear” convince me to go with Shannon’s compact. Definitely a 34 on the little ring, but I may still consider a 51 IF I have to buy a new chainring to replace the 50 (which does have an issue).
For the rear, I have decided to start with an 11-26 cassette–the beauty above! The 11-50 (or 51) should be sufficient for the descents and the unlikely flat stages where I can draft :). And the 34-26 should be sufficient for the steepest sections during the first few days. I climbed Bedouin-Ventoux solo with a 28 but can’t recall using the 28. Never climbed big hills during a race but my buddy Neal said “you have no idea how much faster you will climb during a race.” (Indeed I have no idea–I just hope I can hang onto a good group!) Anyway, I’d rather have the tighter spacing of the 26 but will bring an 11-28 as my “back-up” solution for when I get tired or have overestimated myself. (A cassette is easy to swap and I just bring a few tools.)
So, with the drivetrain settled, my next blog will be about what wheels to bring (we can only bring one set).