December 19, 2011

Favorite Things - Gear Review

By: Robin Rongey with Chuck's Comments in Red

Every year Oprah has a favorite things show, so Chuck and I thought, we are ROCK Racing, so why shouldn’t we have a favorite things Post. We lean somewhat towards gear when we talk about our favorite things, but we do stray a bit. So let’s just say this is a Favorite Things – Gear Review. We hope you find this interesting and that you may even want to try some or our Favorite Things out.

Trek Top Fuel

One of my favorite mountain bikes is the Trek Top Fuel, I know that it is the age of 29er, but there is still a place in my heart for the old school 26er. My TF rides smooth, shifts so well that I hardly even here a chain click, it is super maneuverable and the front shock lockout on the handlebar is a feature I can hardly live without. It’s kind of like upgrading in a car, once you have the extra’s you never want to live without them again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking my Superfly, it has its place in my heart, but my true love will always be my Top Fuel.

Trek Superfly

So Robin still likes 26” bikes. Not me. I’m sold all the way on 29ers. And the top of the line 29er is my Trek Superfly. It is light, fast, and maneuverable. It climbs any hill I point it at. It’s tough too. All that talk about carbon frames not handling crash damage is wrong. I’ve crashed it several times and the only damage so far has been a bent hanger and a crushed rear derailer. I can ride this bike for hours and hours, it is hard to believe it can be this comfortable on top of the speed and toughness. I have only made a few mods over the year I’ve owned it. A wheel and tire upgrade and a carbon handlebar, just improving on perfection.

Ice Breaker Everything

I can’t even begin to tell you which of my Ice Breaker gear I like best. I might say the base layer, the bike shorts, the running shorts or the socks, but then I would be lying because I can’t live without the running shirt, bike jersey, hat or gloves. Still I can’t say they are all my favorite, because I wear my IB casual v-neck t-shirt every time it is clean. The Marino Wool is so soft and doesn’t itch at all, and if I were to see this gear on the street, I would not even know it was wool. This is not your old school wool, but your new high tech wool, that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, while wicking away sweat and never feeling wet and slimy. There is nothing I would rather workout and race in than my Ice Breaker gear.

She is right on about IB. My favorites are the 200 base layer and the bike shorts.

Honey Stinger

Waffles, Waffles, Waffles, that is all I have to say, I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, add a little ice cream in-between two waffles and you have dessert. I still love my Rocket Chocolate and everything else Honey Stinger, but Waffles are by far my go to food, anytime, anywhere.

The waffles are amazing. They came out with some new flavors this year. I wasn’t sure about the strawberry flavor when I first saw it, but after I tried it, I like it too. Not a fan of the vanilla though.

Ultimate Direction Water Bottle

When we decided to do a post on our favorite things, I started thinking about which gear I use the most. Socks, Shoes? Yeah I use those a lot, like everytime I run, but I switch off between road and trail shoes. My Ultimate Direction hand held water bottle goes with me everywhere. We are always told to buy new shoes every 400 miles or so. This bottle has outlasted multiple shoe trades. I can’t even begin to guess the mileage this bottle has on it. 2000m, 3000m, or more, and still going strong. The 20 oz BPA-free polyethylene molded bottle fits my hand perfect and the adjustable strap with the small pocket keeps it all secure. But the best part of the bottle is the leak proof Kicker valve. All this mileage and still no leaks.

Hardnutz Helmets

Unfortunately, a helmet is something you don’t always want to use, but you have to. I never ride without one, no matter how hot it is. Here’s the thing, I don’t mind wearing my Hardnutz Rock Hard helmet because it is so breathable and comfortable, and because of that I have to sometime reach up to make sure I have it on. Besides that, it is a really cool looking helmet, with a marbleized stone look to it, which makes it the perfect helmet for ROCK Racing.

Nike Cycling Jacket

This has to be the single most used item I have. I received this jacket as a Christmas gift about four years ago and let me tell you, I have used it to no end. It is great when it’s super cold outside, I wear a base layer and a jersey under it. When the temps fall between 30-40 degrees, I wear it with just a base layer under it. This jacket has been washed about a 1000 times and still looks as good as it did on day one out of the package. It is warm, yet breathable and although it is not advertised as wind proof, it sure does a great job blocking the wind. Unless I get too fat to fit in it, this jacket will be a staple in my winter wardrobe, at least until it falls apart.

XX2i Sunglasses

These glasses are not only cool looking and make the ROCK Racing girls look hot, (the guys are something other than hot) but they are also functional, comfortable and crystal clear. I love the styling of the USA frame, not as much for racing as for just wearing around, I wear mine everywhere. For workouts though, nothing can beat the France frame. What I like about the France frame is that it has an open bottom that lets air circulate and my glasses don’t fog. Another great feature of the XX2i is the ease of swapping lens, I can pop out the clear lens and put in the yellow lens, in just seconds and that is all the time I have while out on the trail. With adventure racing you are out day and night, you need to be able to have glasses that adapt easily to the changing light and these glasses do. As far as safety goes, let me tell you this, in my last race, I was smacked hard in the face by a thorn branch, my eyes had no injuries and my glasses didn’t even have a scratch, I feel good knowing that these glasses can hold up under all conditions and protect my eyes. Oh, and I have to say that the white pro athlete version of the glasses, not only make me look cool, but I swear when I have them on I race faster, I’m not sure if I’m faster because I think I look cool or if it’s the crystal clear lens paired with no fear of injury, but whatever it is.. Fast is always good.

Quik Trip (QT) Soda

I am a diehard Diet Coke aholic and have even had to make new years resolutions to force me into cutting back on my diet coke consumption in past years. I have a new twist to my diet coke issues now, it’s called QT build your own soda fountain. Not only can I have my diet coke, but I get it with my own twist. I have profected the mix. You need the perfect amount of ice, followed by the perfect amount of cherry and then topped off with the diet coke. Very few people know the formula, but lucky for you I am going to show you how to make the perfect cherry diet coke. I should probably patent this mix and sell it, but for ROCK Racing readers, I will give it to you for free.

Doris, ROCK Racing’s favorite lunch lady

Have you ever eaten somewhere and became attached to one of the employees, well Robin and Chuck have. Her name is Doris and she makes lunch very entertaining. First she has a personality that some people may not get, but we do. She seems a little gruff when you first meet her and if you ask her how the food is, she will say “shitty” and if you ask her how she is, she will say “shitty”. Oh, but she makes the best home cooked meal around, meatloaf to die for, and chicken fried steak, smothered in gravy. She even puts out some really good peach cobbler once in a while and if by chance you get her to take a liking to you, she will make sure you get some. So if you ever get to St Louis, head down Lindbergh, about 2 miles from the St Louis International airport and stop in at Mattingly’s for lunch, I know you will enjoy it.

Andy Gibbs, ROCK Racings favorite bike Wrench at our favorite Bike Shop

If you are ever in the Edwardsville, IL area, you have to head over to the Cyclery and check in with the #1 bike mechanic of all time. Not only is he a top rated mechanic, but he is also a certified coach and bike fit technician and to top it off, he is an expert mountain biker. Andy has setup the fit of our bikes to perfection and also fixed them every time we crash them. He always explains everything he does and shows us how to do repairs on the trails. As a bonus, he gives up great training tips. Don’t miss out, if you’re in the area, stop in and see Andy! Be sure to check out the Cyclery too, it’s our favorite bike shop and I know they will have anything you need on hand.

And if you are in need of a new bike, you won’t find a guy that knows more about the components that come spec’d out on all the models they carry. There are a ton of decisions to make on a new bike and you want the best to help make them. Plus you might score big time and get the chance to buy Andy’s ‘last year’ race bike with all the perfect upgrades like Lori did!

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