What to bring?  Clothing for everything from a desert heat wave to early blizzards.  Two days of everything.  But what about the bike?

Support out on the course is drawn thin as the race progresses.  You will want to be as self-sufficient as possible.  The course has sections that are tough on tires, and even tougher on brakes unless you really want to see how fast you can go all the way down.  I get nervous about tubes on long descents, when I think about it, but that’s just me.  I  don’t really use the brakes much, but I am used to motorcycles.  So 60 mph on the downhill on 168 feels kinds slow.  Really.  I DO expect to be able to STOP if I need to.

So far you are going to want brand new tubes and tires, and at least very recent brakes.  Not those super featherweight tubes, either.  I run the Vittoria latex tubes, hoping that they are a little more durable than the cheapo butyl type.  The superlights are good for climbing, not so good for giant potholes and frost heaves.  You know, like some of the roads at the EC.  We have a really good safety record at the EC, and YOU want that to stay true.

Best to carry a tube and CO2 or a pump.

 

Tom Reid, the inventor of the EC, used to say that he had bad knees, so he used short gears.  He was light, strong, had a featherweight Trek, rode these climbs all the time, and was SMART enough to use small gears.  Because when you run out of gears, you want to already be close to the summit.  People think about the climbs they usually do, the gears they usually run, and figure it is going to be fine just like that.

If you do a lot of 20+ mile climbs, that will be fine.  If you do shorter climbs and still manage to string them together and get 8 or 10 thousand feet of climbing, you may be shocked at the difference between short climbs and the EC monsters.

You do not want to end up doing the paperboy thing all the way up the Bristlecone climb at 20rpm, pawing at the shifter.  Wondering what went wrong.  Why there isn’t just. one. more. gear.  Because you weren’t going to need that big, heavy 27, remember?  Right?

The EC climbs are LONG, and they are steepest at the top, and you got up early, and it is pretty hot and dry in the valley, and you have been getting more and more dehydrated since you got there Friday but didn’t realize it, and a bunch of other things.  Little things, most of them.  But enough things to take the starch out of the best prepared rider.  By the middle of the third climb, on Stage 2, you ARE going to wish you put on a MTB cassette.  Or even a triple.  Or BOTH.

Maybe you were right after all.  You didn’t need a 27.  But a 30 or a 32 would have been nice.  Tom Reid used to run an 11-34 XTR cassette.  I was astonished when I saw his Trek the first time.  I had never imagined that combination.  So you have to ask yourself…are you going to spin or mash?  There isn’t much middle ground on climbs that go for 20 miles and gain 6,000′.

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