Monday, July 28, 2008

"Holy Wheelset Batman" by Eric Dupuis

Holy wheelset batman!

My new wheelset is just amazing. I wish I could be objective here by having controlled test environments but I cannot; there are so many variables at play. I can just say WOW!

I put the wheels together after I received my favorite tires - Continental Ultra Race kevlar - on Wednesday evening. My first ride on the new wheels was a totally relaxed commute to work of 3.5 miles each direction. I admit I did not feel much difference uphill. But downhill, wow, I can't believe how smooth these wheels were, and how FAST! These things just zipped down the hill without any effort. I'm talking a 1/2 mile downhill here, where I usually play around and try to see how fast I can go. I reached 35 mph without even realizing it; this is the number I typically attempt really hard to reach. Promising...

Saturday comes and I go to race at Chalk Creek, which is 25 miles of uphill rollers, a turnaround, followed by 25 miles of the same rollers downhill. During my warmup I play around with a few hills and again am amazed of the downhill ease and speed. I stand and accelerate up a little hill in town and start thinking "hmmm, maybe there is something to these wheels uphills".

As the race goes on I find myself working pretty hard to stick with the lead pack. They put up a ridiculous uphill pace as usual - probably still a bunch of sandbaggers but I digress - and I am able to stick with it until the turnaround. On the way down our team really starts working. I cover attacks which takes some stiff accelerations. I stick around during significant uphill accelerations, and by the end of the race I realize I actually have to reduce my effort during such uphill accelerations by the pack because I am accellerating too fast and end up having to slow down. I also realize the flat sections were just handled instead of fighting to hang in there.

How much of this is training? I donno, probably some. How much is just due to these killer wheels? I donno but I am pretty confident it is a significant amount. That's something else: confidence. I have gained confidence I won't just suffer through flats and downhills. WOW!

Here are some facts / variables to consider:
- 260 grams is the weight difference between my Bontrager Race Lite wheels @ 1660 grams and Williams Cycling System 19 wheels at 1430 grams.
- Tires on the Bontrager wheels are Hutchinson Fusion Comp rated at 210 grams. Tires on the Williams wheels are Continental Ultra Race kevlar rated at 220 grams.
- Tubes on the Bontrager wheels may be Forte Ultra light at approximately 70 grams or no-name cheapos at 107 + grams. Tubes on the Willams wheels are Forte Ultra light.
- I had never raced Chalk Creek although I have ridden it 4-6 times. I was in much better shape than I have ever been for this race.
- I had not raced in over a month. I trained significantly in the time period between races.

I get STOKED when I get these emails. Makes my day!