My friend Cristiano introduced me to the pleasure of MTB. I spent a very large number of years doing it in my youth, however, as I left my parents home I never picked up a bike again.
Exactly today, four seasons ago, at one of our BBQ + Movie of summer nights I was invited for a ride and driven by natural curiosity and goliardic spirit I went. Never stopped and don’t plan to anytime soon.
I started with a bike that was twice smaller my needs. A K2 sports bike that belonged to my wife. My dress code was the same of a summer BBQ night and way too many pounds to carry around (211)
As I started getting joy, more sleep, and a better shape out of the hobby, therefore, I decided to commit to it and really see where it would take me.
Below there’s the summary of what I bought, tested and happy about it. I am sharing in the case out there is another dad out of shape that needs to bootstrap and doesn’t know where to start from with the equipment.
I listen to music at every occasion that I have, mostly due to my interest in neuroscience and the effect of music on our brain. Therefore, Bluetooth speaker was a must. I went for:
- simplicity (not much time to handle the bar and the buttons)
- waterproof (Northwest)
- lasting battery (no music coitus interruptus)
- resistant to bumps since I was expecting crashes (many)
My final choice was Altec Lansing H20 Mini. Best 20 bucks spent for a BT speaker. I use it through my iPhone X with playlists on Google Play Music. Love it.
Collecting data and gathering performance information was not just critical was essential. If you follow my IoT project you know by now that I am a data freak when it comes to improving lifestyles. So I bought an Apple Watch Series 3. I hated the previous two models, love the 3 as it is meant for fitness 100%. I use it to track path, heart rate, and control music. In one particular case, it almost saved my life. Almost…
I tried to use my GoPro Hero 3+ but I didn’t get much satisfaction out of it as it flattens the ground too much; taking away from the real complexity of some of the challenges or crashes dynamics that the camera should capture. I have been looking to other alternatives but I haven’t found yet my soul mate. At one point in time, I ran into an ad on Facebook that was my best. I lost track of it and since then I am still searching.
I have bought this camera holder for the Hero 3+ which does a better job there than instead of when the camera is placed on the helmet. It is not very strong so if you crash a lot as I did at my beginning hold one before investing on this toy as it is not very robust although cheap enough. To lock the camera on top of it without the waterproofing case, I bought this frame that does a very good job. The two accessories are not naturally meant to be together however, with a small push to make the locks to fit and they become great buddy for the task.
My choice has fallen on simple and in color matching my bike where it has been possible. My favorite color is green however, the bike has orange-copper lines so I end up blending here and there.
Some of our rides are in very winter days, so I picked two types of gloves. One that has cushioning (crashes on wet roots) and double layer for warmth.
I don’t handle extreme temperature well, both cold or heat. Out of the two cold is definitely the one that freezes my brain more than shock in life, hence I don’t do any winter sport. Therefore staying work is crucial, not so much for the face but more for the cold air hitting the lungs. This very scary looking Balaclava is fantastic. It is easy to lower down when you need fresh air and it also teaches you (as a side effect of reducing airways) how to better handle the breathing, which is key for endurance.
For my jersey and pants. I found the Sponeed line awesome as wearability, colors and pockets options. I found two small issues with some manufacturing details, one of which is an easy fix. The jersey after several washes develops some random white dots, not very visible unless you look at it at close range. The pants have padding (thanks, Lord!) however if you don’t wear sportive underwear they tend to slide down creating a baggage that gets stuck under the seat head when you move away from the sit and then come back on it while riding. I was wearing regular underwear before I realized the benefit of more appropriate underwear for sports in general.
During summer time I use padded cargo shorts and this 404 shirt that for a geek of the web is very fitting.
For socks, and I know some about socks, I tried several options and besides the one wearing in the picture (a gift) I found climbing socks to be really good for both summer and particularly for winter time.
Shoes were very critical, it has to be comfortable, waterproof (Pacific Northwest…) and protective give how much bumps and other accidental hits you get in some trails. Rex totally surprised me. At first, I thought they were too puffy and after the second usage, I can’t leave home for a ride without.
For summertime, I also have those Shimano, which are good shoes but I think they are more meant for road bikes than mountain biking. It was my first buy and I didn’t know shit back then so, there’s that…
I upgraded my bike to a 29″ and I like it very much. I was afraid of tossing away a good chunk of money and not being able to maximize its value. Not anymore.
I made a few adjustments to make it fit my preferences and need. I replaced that peddles that was smaller and required the locking plates at the bottom of the shoes (hence the Shimano’s) with these peddles. Totally worth buying this wrench to install them to avoid to adapt and scream thru anything else that you have around.
I tend to hold the handlebar too hard for stability, even when I am riding my way down, which gets my hands pretty tired as they stay continuously in traction mode. So I adopted these ones, which they have a resting region toward the edges. I drop the palms there and open the phalanges to release tension. It does the job for me and I don’t enjoy the traditional kind anymore.
It happens that you got to fix small things while in the woods so I bought a small under-seat bag and drop in this toolset.
And I have used it a few times in fixing my upgraded saddle before I found the most accommodating height. By the way, if you saddle isn’t at the right height your performance is penalized of a lot, particularly if you are a rookie.
For the helmet, I picked a 4 Forty, which works great for my skills and general crash rate. I had originally picked something fancier and way more expensive but then I figured that my goal should be to crash less before I step my game up, which would require more protection.
Glasses are the ones that I struggle the most to blend with. I tried super cheap (home depot protection gear) ones and this very expensive kind. The latter is really fitting and well locking. The only ones that handle fog better than any others. I have used them only once so I don’t know yet if they deserve what they are sold for. Design and fitting are spot-on for sure.
SuperFly 100/AL Elite is my bike of choice.
I replaced the original tires
with these ones which are a lot better when you travel over wet nasty roots.
Since the wheels are pretty big, my previous bike holder wasn’t working so I bought this one that is adjustable in height and works like a charm.
Sure enough, sometimes we came back home that our bodies very just vessels of pain but the joy has been always to the highest. I am grateful to my friend Cristiano for the re-discovery of this joy that made me accept the Pacific NW weather a little more than I ever did. I am indeed waiting for global warming to cause some heat effects in Seattle…
We built a team of believers that slowly are upgrading their lives and bikes.
and some of them have acquired special skills, like slo-mo crashing, advanced pants (jeans) wearing and the most pacated driving style with iPhone console on the handlebar. It a wonderful ride, you should give it a try. Friendship, health and some stories for the kids, can’t go wrong with that.