Our team rider (although he will be racing for road trade team Team Novo Nordisk at this race) and ambassador for people w/ Type1 Diabetes Justin Morris is lining up for the iconic Leadville 100mile MTB marathon this weekend. This race is renown for its usual high profile start list and the fact it is held at over 3000m above sea level making it a huge challenge for all involved. The race also covers over 4000m of elevation gain over the 164km.
Justin gives us a look at his equipment choice for this unique bucket list race:
FRAME: Trek Procaliber 9.9RSL XL 2021 raw carbon:
I got on board this rig as I knew I was moving to a part of the world where a dual suspension bike was unnecessary (Michigan, USA). It however also doubles as a near perfect frame for the demands of the Leadville. The sheer bulk amount of climbing and the fact most of the race is on alpine 2 track means the lightweight of a hardtail I believe outweighs the benefit of the comfort of rear suspension. The Isospeed decoupler does do a nice job of smoothing out corrugations.
FORK: Fox 34 Stepcast Factory 100mm:
Wider fork stanchions are all the rage these days. When at the XCO world cup in West Virginia 2 weeks prior it was evident that even the most speed and weight conscious of riders now opt for the added stiffness in wider stanchions. This is noticeable especially with boost wheels and when out of the saddle. I am still pretty committed to traditional travel of XC bikes in 100mm however. This is suffice for most terrain and leaves the bike at a nice racey/ aggressive head angle. No remote lockout makes for a much cleaner look too. I like to minimise the amount of cables flopping around in the cockpit.
These wheels have served me well since August, 2019. Have only ever broken 1 spoke and appreciate the slightly deeper and wider spec of the eie rims. Although not the lightest wheelset going around, I much prefer reliability and stiffness over lightweight, especially when in the middle of an alpine range at 4000m asl.
TYRES: Maxxis Rekon Race 2.25 Front, Maxxis Aspen 2.25 Rear:
With the predicted dry conditions and lack of singletrack decreasing rolling resistance was the main aim of tyre choice for this event. Given Aspen is just down the road from Leadville it seemed an obvious choice. I went the Rekon Race up front for just a tad more aggressive tread up the front end. The Aspen rolls really well but the side knobs really pick you up when the bike is tipped over. Tubeless with Aussie made Ride Mechanic Hoop Goop and valves!
DRIVETRAIN: Shimano XTR M9100:
This gruppo has been faultless again since Aug 2019 it has not missed a beat. The slick shifting and solid feel through the cranks makes it pretty hard to question. Recently serviced r mech clutch adds to effortless shifting. Few changes in gearing however:
Chainring: 30T SLX, not normally one to run such a small front ring but the pure volume of climbing and been cognisant of wanting to sustain effort at such high altitude it made sense to go small up front.
Cassette: 10-45 12sp XTR M9100. The main reason for the shift to 30T upfront was that I had committed to a short cage r mech and shorter range cassette. This serves me great in flat Michigan, I would definitely opt for longer cage and the 10-51T option if I had the set up available.
BAR/STEM: Pro PLT 80mm alloy stem, PRO LT flat 700mm bars:
I am still committed to aluminium in the cockpit. Such a high stakes part of the bike needs to have some material you really trust. I have had carbon bars before and loved them. But alloy keeps the mind at ease when travelling by air and hauling down alpine descents. At the end of the day for race day I want to reduce as much as possible the amount of things that can cause me stress/ concern. So the heavier alloy option it is for me.
BRAKESET: Shimano XTR M9100 Race:
One of the lightest brakesets on the market but you would not think so with the power these guys can pull you up with. Fresh bleed and new metal pads should have me in good stead for the descents ahead. 160mm rotors F & R in true XC style.
Not normally one to have too much attached to my bike, however in an uber long XCM like the Leadville and the likelihood of me being out there for many hours, the priority is to ensure there is plenty of pocket space for food. Hence, the Orucase saddle bag is big enough for a 29er tube and a CO2 canister and then the same again for the backcountry strap. Carrying 2 tubes is a wise idea for longer XCM’s and these additions make storing these easy and in as sleek fashion as possible.