For three long days in the saddle covering 322km I want a comfortable and reliable steed. The Santa Cruz 5010C is an ideal bike, shortish travel but with enough guts that it will not be found wanting on some of the rocky descents of the Lake District on day one.
I have a stock 5010C S AM model, with a few changes to suit this event and day-to-day riding in the Tweed Valley. So, here it is with reasons why I have chosen certain things:
A. Changes Santa Cruz made to their geometry with their 2016 bikes, at 6ft I now comfortably fit a large frame. 130mm of VPP suspension, short chainstays and a 12×148 ‘boost’ rear axle make for a wonderfully lively, yet stiff, bike ideal for the vast majority of Tweed Valley trails but also enough comfort for this epic coast-to-coast.
B. The EVOL-sleeved Fox Float shock is set to 190PSI to keep the bike quite stiff for this event and keep any pedal bob to a minimum; normally I would run it with a slightly lower pressure so it’s more supple early in the stroke.
C. I have changed the air shaft so the ever-reliable and superbly performing Pike now has 140mm of travel. This gives me a little extra when riding my local trails and slackens the head angle by a minuscule amount. Two volume reducing tokens, no low speed compression and 80PSI see it sit nicely up in its travel but remain nice and reactive on small bumps.
D. I would have liked to have run carbon rims just to have lightened the wheels a bit but the stock Easton ones are dead reliable. New bearings have just gone into the rear hub as they were pretty gubbed after 800km over winter. A lot of the terrain will be rocky but a lot will also be on doubletrack/bridleway; the WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss provide a perfect balance of grip on the front and fast rolling on the back but also are bomb proof without weighing a ton.
E. The chainring is a 28T absoluteBLACK oval – I am a huge fan of the performance benefits of an oval ring, especially on technical climbs, and it feels quite natural. I have been training on a 30 or 32T but reduced for the event as I am sure I will be needing a spin gear… On long or fast descents where I may spin out, I intend to use that as a recovery portion before the next climb! Pedals are Crank Brother Mallet Es.
F. I am using the stock 10-42 SRAM cassette (due to having an xD freehub) but the mech and shifter are from Shimano’s new XT range. I prefer the rapid gear dump of the Shimano and, from experience, the mech is certainly far more robust and reliable. I will always use the same chain manufacturer as cassette, so in this instance I have a SRAM PC1130 fitted and have never had any shifting issues. Scottoiler have been awesome in providing me with their new Bio Cleaner and UBS meaning it is very easy to keep the drivetrain clean and running sweet.
G. The WTB Trail Boss tyre is fast rolling so for long journeys like this it is ideal however, there is very little braking traction so if the conditions are wet (or has been leading up to the event), for days two and three which are much more moorland/brideway in nature, then another WTB Vigilante will go on. Both tyres are tubeless; the airshot will be in the van in case of a tyre change!
H. A 750ml water bottle, along with 2x500ml bottles in a running hip belt, will be full of High 5 Zero electrolyte to try and stay hydrated and keep cramp at bay. The lid over the mouthpiece is essential to stop the inevitable bits of horse/cow/sheep/dog mess entering my system and making me sick! There are fuel stops throughout the route so I will replenish the water and just have to carry the Zero tablets – with a mandatory kit list keeping back pack weight down is important to reduce strain on the lower back over the three days. Spare tubes are taped to the frame.
J. The stock 760mm handlebars and 50mm stem are ideal components, I have changed the grips to Ergon GE1 which I have found to significantly reduce arm pump on long descents. They are quite hard though so I will have a set of softer grips in the van in case they get too uncomfortable after a couple of long days. The Reverb button and gear thumb shifter have skateboard grip tape on them to prevent slipping when it gets wet.
In the van that my brother is driving to support and join me each night will be spare tyres, kit, airshot, bike stand, tool kit, brake pads and a lot of pasta! Next up will be a blog-sale of loads of MTB stuff that is collecting dust – all proceeds (minus any postage costs) will go straight into my fundraising pot which currently stands at £1370. Following that will be a key-kit check, good and rubbish weather 🙂
Donation page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CharityCrossing