So one of my greatest friends and favorite cyclists recently rode in the Lyle Pearson 200. Big Dan Smith has been, since day one, one of our greatest supporters. He always participates in shop events, buys local and is willing to give us honest feedback about our shop and community involvement. I love riding with him just as much as I love hanging out with him and I’m continually impressed with the way he juggles quality time with family and his passion for cycling. After the LP, I asked Dan for a favor… and sure enough Dan, being the high quality guy he is, took the time to write a couple of thoughts about the Lyle Pearson and the ZIPP wheels he borrowed for the event. So without further adieu…here is Big Dan’s review:
Yes, Firecrest 303’s are for riders of “normal life” commitment level! Or, my first experience with high tech carbon wheel sets! This after putting 88 race miles on them under actual race conditions! So, first a little background on what got me here.
My race calendar is different than most in that I no longer race weekend after weekend, doing my best to not get beat into the earth week after week in local and regional bike races. Been there, done that. Got way too many T-Shirts! I have two boys at home, 12 & 14, both athletes, and I spend most of those weekend hours following their sports rather than racing. My calendar consists of three or four events I really want to do. These events are evaluated on several different merits, but them being fun is paramount!
That brings me to how and why I’m a weekend warrior (WW) and hows and whys of the Lyle Pearson 200, (LP for short) is always on my calendar. So for the record, it’s 186 miles of beautiful central Idaho Mountains between Boise and Ketchum. The format is teams of 4, (mine consisted of a cat. 1 road racer, two good cat. 3 road racers, one paying for coaching!) and, me. 9 relay points are spread out somewhat evenly over the 186 miles.
As I was putting my “event” calendar together for 2013, I was talking with my LBS (Local Bike Shop) guru, Adam Haynes about the event and he says, “Great time to check out the Zipp Firecrest 303’s” and I thought, really, me, weekend warrior? And then I thought if that would help me hang on to the aforementioned bona fide racer guys, then sign me up!
So, the Firecrest 303’s, what’s that all about anyway? The 303 is Zipp’s all around aero road wheel, and I will not bore you with all the aero-wind tunnel mumbo jumbo but I will say this is one really high-speed wheelset. My opinion going in was can these things make a difference someone like me could really “feel” or notice? I have to say unequivocally “YES”! The first thing I noticed on the first of three rides I have done on these bad boys is how stiff they are. Tipping the scales at just over 100 kilos I’m not the typical cyclist. Stiffness in wheelsets is something I can attest to. When you stand with these wheels locked in place all your power is directed to the ground going forward.
Ok, really, here it is, rolling down the road; it’s like the best, especially above 20-22 mph. These wheels say, “Let’s go fast”. This is where these wheels really shine. They “feel faster”. I could try and attach a number to it, 10, 20 percent, but I think that all depends on perception, and everyone has a different frame of reference, and I’m a WW, so I’m not sure that’s worth anything other than these wheels can make most cyclists faster, pretty sure they made me faster. Over the course of the LP I did Robbie Creek to Idaho City, 16 miles with an average grade of 1.5-2% the entire way in about 44 minutes. I could “feel” the advantage as our speed was between 21-24 mph most of this leg, and wow, once I was warmed up the time in the draft was a somewhat easier effort, enough that I could recover slightly, as opposed to barely in the past. In an event where I was to be on and off the bike several times in a day this made a big difference.
Banner Creek to Stanley was another big one for me, doing 40 km’s in 55 minutes and change! Now, to be fair, I was with two other very powerful riders, but to go that far under an hour 5500-6000 feet above sea level is dang good, period! story short, these wheels are fast, available to”Weekend Warriors” through the rental program at Rolling H Cycles. Adam Haynes, Adam Puga and Mo Rodriguez always take top notch care of me, and with some sit down time with them they can also help you determine if a special event on your calendar calls for some speed via the Zipp Firecrest 303’s!
-Adam & “Big” Dan Smith.