As much as I'd like to have raced the National Champs, I opted for a 20 minute drive as opposed to a 8 hour drive. The Gorrick events are great and always seem to attract big numbers due to the fun and flowing courses they use and this one at Deepcut was no different, just longer. I have raced around these trails many times and have always enjoyed the courses so this was a defiant winner for me. Also after getting a call from Gore Bike Wear asking if id ride in their new Alp-X Pro outfit I jumped at the chance to ride the 7 lap 100km race thinking "Perfect Leadville training Nick!".
Now the Gore Bike Wear Alp-X Pro kit is a 4 piece outfit designed to work in a vast range of conditions and is aimed at the performance orientated MTB rider/racer. The outfit consists of a Windstopper zip off long sleeve jersey, short sleeve jersey, Windstopper fitted baggy short and a 2in1 baggy short and lycra bib. What Gore Bike Wear have done though is mix performance with looks and used a baggy short with a lyra bib. I know I can hear all those XC racers saying "Lycra is fine, fast, lightweight, not catching on the saddle, no heavy baggy short rubbing and causing pressure." but these shorts are different, trust me i thought the same. For this race I opted for the Windstopper zip off jersey and the 2in1 baggy bib short which was defiantly the right choice.
I was greeted to rain rain and more rain on the start line at 8:30am and so was thankful for the Windstopper jersey keeping me warn and dry. The start horn is sounded and off we blast in a sopping wet spray or water and mud, this is going to be fun as I fly sideways into the first corner. Now with this being a 100km race the pace was much slower than a 1 hour 30 minute XC race and after 1 lap I'm starting to settle into my pace and its only at this point do I turn a thought back to the kit I'm wearing. Wow I am not in the slightest bit cold or uncomfortable after standing around in the rain. The baggy shorts that were sodden on the start line haven't once felt like they were rubbing and haven't sagged down with the weight of the water. That will be due to the light weight material and the fact they are part of the lycra bib short. There is also no pressure points underneath that you can get form the seams of a baggy short. Awesome.
The Windstopper jersey is also performing way better than I am. A performance fit means its nice and snug without being super restrictive and tight in places especially with all the movement through the singletrack. The thin Windstopper material is keeping the rain and mud off but not causing me to overheat in the slightest. Also with big pockets to house the sleeves when you want to remove them, I'm also able to load myself with bells and bars to make sure i don't run out of steam.
S0 as the laps tick off and i get onto the 5th lap the sun starts to come out and the course now starts to dry up. My baggy shorts are now dry and light and even with the warmer temperature I'm not over heating. However my legs are reminding me that I've been riding for 4 hours and as i hit my 6th lap the noise form my legs are starting to get louder and louder. Thank god that my kit is up to the job even if my legs aren't. Now with warmer temperature I'm thinking of removing the sleeves for the Windstopper jersey which reveals a great short sleeve with just Windstopper front panels. As i munch down on gel number 9 on lap 7 i can't help but think that this course has become faster and faster and more fun as the lap numbers drop, yet now I'm battling with angry legs that don't share my enjoyment for the singletrack.
As I cross the finish line i have to say I'm super impressed with the Gore Bike Wear Alp-X Pro kit I've been using. I think a sign that kit is working well is that you don't notice it as you are riding. The shorts look like a baggy short but are much more fitted and part of the bib so you never feel them sagging down, especially when they are soaking wet. There is also no rubbing and they dry out so quickly that not once were they ever a problem. Win. They jersey was perfect in cold wet conditions at the start and then even when it started to get warmer the jersey was never out of its depth. even if the temperature rose further it still would have been fine and thus demonstrating its versatility for an array of conditions. One jersey to rule them all.
So now that I've stopped feasting and have managed to quieten the pain shouting from my legs, I find myself seriously thinking about being able to race in baggy shorts and avoid the issues i find with them while being happy that I've found the perfect Leadville jersey and one that will rip up the longer races where conditions have a habit of changing. Now all i need are some legs that can perform to the same level. I wonder if Gore Bike Wear have any.......
Words - Nick Coley
Check out the full results for the Gorrick 100 via Root and Rain - RootandRain.com