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Old 02-13-09, 10:42 PM   #1
etherhuffer
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Ramrod Question

A friend of mine wants to do Ramrod, and he is now riding cross bikes. He is interested in what folks use most often for the Ramrod. I am biased towards touring geometry and lugged steel. He asked about carbon frames, which I think is actually overkill and less desireable for a long ride. I pointed out that he can build steel, aluminum or carbon and come up close to the same weight in the end, not to mention the variable weight on the waistline!

Any comments or ideas gladly accepted.
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Old 02-14-09, 12:18 AM   #2
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In RAMROD, it is not the bike, but the rider and the training that will get you to the finish line. You might concentrate less on frame material and more on gearing, clothing and tire choice. Also, make sure you have some good brakes on your bike, there are a lot of tempting downhills that suddenly turn into oh sh*t corners. Have fun.
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Old 02-14-09, 01:24 AM   #3
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Hey Norski, I do agree. I notice you have a Long Haul Trucker. That is on my list.

So, what sort of gearing for Ramrod? Does he need some climbing gears, like a 28 or 32 in the rear and say a 48 front big ring? For brakes, cantis or good calipers? I use Kool Stops and am happy, but he is an engineer, so I may have to use a BFH to convince him to use certain stuff. For tires, I just moved over to Schwalbe Marathons. No durability problems, but heavy.
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Old 02-14-09, 08:24 AM   #4
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it never hurts to have some bail out gears on a ride like Ramrod. There is a bit of climbing and that last climb can be a bit tiresome without that one last low low gear. Of course, people ride compact doubles, regular doubles, triples. Its up to the fitness of the person. A good comfy saddle that has been tested always helps. Light bikes are a plus but again not everyone is riding carbon.
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Old 02-14-09, 12:13 PM   #5
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mostly i saw carbon race bikes on RAMROD - it's not that long of a distance that people are using different bikes for it. that ride attracts the more "competitive" set, not the more laid back randonneurs that would generally take a different approach to the ride.

for the racers, this may very well be the hardest ride of the year, in terms of climbing. for randonneurs, it's another training ride for bigger and better things.

anyway the steepest grade on ramrod is (i think) 8% for 7 miles or so - cayuse pass. it's a real a**-kicker! but it's a fun ride. i've done that pass on an old (loaded) steel miyata (that sucked, then again it was 300+ miles into a ride), and also on a newer (unloaded) steel ciocc (last year's ramrod, that i rode to from seattle).

two things:

1) do at least a 150-mile day before RAMROD, without the passes, just to get used to the saddle time

2) get decent at climbing, e.g. check out Cougar Mountain for practice runs.
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Old 02-15-09, 03:07 PM   #6
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RAMROD is mostly populated by recent high-end bikes, which typically means carbon, though you will see other types as well.

I've ridden steel and carbon, and carbon has a ton of advantages. It has tunable rigidity, so you can get a bike that soaks up road buzz but is rigid enough so that you aren't wasting energy. My experience is that for rides of that sort, you can be comfortable with either steel or carbon, but carbon is going to be a fair bit faster and feel more performant.

The disadvantage, or course, is that most carbon bikes aren't designed for long-distance touring, so it's hard to fit fenders, bags, etc. That's not an issue if you are doing supported rides like RAMROD, but if you want to do Rando rides, it's more of an issue.
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Old 02-16-09, 11:29 PM   #7
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It's the engine not the bicycle. I've gone on a Mt Rainer ride with a singlespeed rider and he got up the passes about as quickly as me with a 10 speed.

I would say the wheels, tires and drive train are more significant factors in performance, although realistically speaking these too might only produce a slight performance difference.
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Old 02-16-09, 11:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by genman View Post
It's the engine not the bicycle.
Exactly, you could have a bike that's 100% efficient and it would mean a thing if the rider wasn't strong enough to turn the pedals.
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