Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Bike


I was finally able to meet my friend yesterday and downloaded the pictures from my camera. So now I can do a write up on one of the best climbers in the area, Matt St Marie. Matt is a Brevard local and has been riding the trails since his teens. After slowly moving his way up through the ranks and jumping up to a full season of Expert racing last year he started the season with a “W”. After winning the Greenbrier race in Maryland his luck seemed to go south. At the national championships in Vermont he DNFed both the short track and cross country due to mechanical issues. After recuperating at the bakery after a long, hard season he came back strong to help Tristan Cowie win his two national championships in the collegiate racing scene. Matt is usually in Sycamore Cycles every chance he can work, many believe that Sycamore is almost his home away from home in a sense. If not working, he is riding in Pisgah or drilling it at the front of the weekly Tuesday Night Worlds.

Here is the overall picture of the bike, a 2009 Specialized S-Works Epic. He is also running the Specialized S-Works OS carbon crank and the Specialized Future Fork. The frame and fork both have 100mm of travel. St. Marie usually runs a softer suspension and tire pressure than his teammates.

Matt rides a size large frame with extra seat post showing. He recently switched over from an Easton bar to SRAM’s Noir bar which is a whopping 27 inches wide. Wes Dickson, Tristan, Matt, and a few other regulars have made the switch over to the Noir bar due to its improved steering and control, both of which come in handy with the technical trail these riders train on year round. Matt, not known as the speediest descenders around has made great improvements with the addition of the new bar. St Marie enjoys having a firm grip and runs road bar tape in lieu of standard grips for comfort and light weight.

St Marie uses the team’s Industry Nine wheels and spokes. After much debate, Matt went with the Mavic 717 rim for the improved stiffness over the Stan’s 355rim and the lighter weight over the DT Swiss 420rim.

The wheels are clad with Specialized rubber, naturally. St Marie is running the Fast Track LKs in this picture but he is known to be a fan of the Captain and has put in several miles over the winter on a set. Matt is a very powerful rider and it shows with his tire selection. The Fast Tracks track very well and have very predictable cornering. Specialized lowered the knobs on the LK tires to improve their rolling resistance. These tires work best on the dry and fast courses. Any type of wetness will causes these tires to pack up with mud. A better choice for the nasty conditions would be the Sauserwind or the Purgatory tire. The Fast Tracks are best for DuPont style riding and several of the Sycamore team will switch tires before riding in dark and damp Pisgah.

As St Marie is not as harsh on his equipment as other riders on the Sycamore team, he can afford to run the lighter S-Works version of the Fast Track LKs. The casing of the S-Works tires are not as durable as the Control casing which is Specialized’s stronger, heavier casing.

In the quest to make his bike the light and high performance Matt pulled out all stops. The Hope Mini X2 Pro brake is not known for its superior power but more for its superior bling factor. The same goes for the carbon Titec stem, and the top shelf componentry.

Two questions that will hopefully lead to answers are the fact that St Marie uses the more expensive and heavier XT M770 labeled pedals instead of his old choice the M545 pedals. When I asked Tristan about it he just shrugged his shoulders.

The second question is about the water bottle cage, people are usually pretty particular about their water bottle cages and Matt is one such person. He runs the standard aluminum Specialized cage. No frills, no spills I guess.

Tristan called me back today and filled me in on the SERC round in Tennessee. So I’ll bring everyone up to date. Matt Wells and Donnie Kirkwood made the long drive over to Columbia. Wells almost missed his start when the Cat 1 and Pro were sent off together. He chased back up to the top half of the field before “just surviving” on the last lap. The trail conditions sounded almost perfect. Super tacky with no slippage. Donnie held it down with a 10th place finish in the Cat 1 Master's race.

Good results all around, as the team preps for the third SERC in Bryson City, NC.

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