Finally an off week. Time to recharge the old body, get back to a normal routine and do some testing. Sunday I headed to one of the few dry trails in the area - good ole Clinton Lake State Park. I did my own little BB36 and got in just over 30 miles of riding. Trails were in awesome shape once again. Hats off to everyone that has helped build and maintain these trails. IMO, the Clinton trails are the best in our area right now.
First test up was my shoulder. I have hit the physical therapy very hard over the last month and it shows. My strength is improving daily and I can just about ride pain free now. I feel it the next morning for sure, but I am making progress. I would say my shoulder is at 75 - 80%. I am not ready to return to MTB racing - just do not want to risk crashing and re-injuring it. My fitness is improving and hope to start some higher tempo rides soon.
Giant Anthem X Test: Next test on the day was my new Anthem X that I got from The Wheel Cyclery. This only marks the 3rd ride on her, but today was the first time I felt strong enough to push it some and really see how she would respond. On the first fast decent she carved a very confident line around Clinton Lake Trails and put a big smile to my face. Next up was a test of the suspension on some rocks. The Anthem X passed with flying colors, but my shoulder is another story. Over the next 30 miles I enjoyed my new rig as she handled every rock, root, downhill, uphill, creek crossing and turn that North Shore trails threw at her. A very balanced and predictable ride the inspires confidence - something I need right now for sure..... The build on the X1 is the new Shimano XT 10 spd. Shifting was very crisp and precise. I went with the 3x10 even though the trend is going toward a 2x10 set-up. I used just about every gear out there at Clinton which just about sums up why I still believe a triple up front is the way to go. Sure I could have powered up a few of the steeper climbs in the middle chain ring (and would have if I was racing), but it sure was nice to spin up these climbs in the small chain ring and keep the HR/Power level at a good OD training level. I even found the big ring, which is a 42 now, a few times. The 42/32/24 with a 11x36 cassette offers just about every gear ratio that you could want. I plan on using them all, especially on some trips to mountains....... My only complaint about the bike are the brakes (Avid Elixir R) and saddle (Fizik Tundra2). With the brakes they are plenty strong, but the clearance is next to nothing and I experienced some vibration under heaving braking. With the saddle I am just not a Fizik man (or I should say my ass is not....)..... Bottom line is I am very satisfied with my new Anthem X1 and I am happy I went with a proven performer (Aluminum framed Maestro Suspension) that will last for many years to come.
Crank Brothers Pedal Test: I have been testing the new Crank Brothers X3 Eggbeaters even before my shoulder surgery. All I can say is they Kick Ass. I have tried every pedal out there over the years and the X3 rocks. I really like the new cartridge bearings and the craftsman ship is very nice. Entry/exit is effortless and once you are in you stay in. The pedals have just the right amount of float for me to keep my knees happy. I personally set mine up with the Shoe Shield and like the extra "float" and ease of entry. Bottom line, plain and simple they just work. These babies have a 5 year warranty and the way they are build should last that long easily.
Baggie/Saddle Test: Final test was my set of Endura baggie shorts that I received from Kenda Tires. To be honest with you, I have never been a fan of "baggies". My reasoning was why would anyone want to wear em in the first place. I first tried a pair this past winter. Mostly because of the added clothing layer that it added - nothing worse than a frozen member while riding. My first ride back after surgery I decided to try them again on my new MTB rig. On that first ride I really did not focus on the shorts, but instead was trying to get used to the Fizik saddle that came on the Giant. Shorts were o.k. but saddle was not. I switched out the saddle for Ritchey Logic Marathon saddle. I have used these over the last 3 years with great comfort. As usual, I also put on a liberal amount of Chamois Butt'r. End result was 3+ hours of comfort. Overall I enjoyed the Endura Baggies, but did notice that they pulled on the tops of my leg some, limited my movement when I had to dismount and they caught my saddle a few times while navigating some technical areas. For their intended purpose they are great and do offer an added layer of protection in case of a fall. Overall good training short and I will also use them to commute to work in or during a fun ride/tour.