With a coach pushing me through the gym work/training, I was well on my way to physical fitness, but that left the bike question wide open. Working for Giant, I had two directions I could go—a shorter-travel, lighter-weight Trance build or a full-blown Reign race sled. Because, realistically, I will only get one chance to compete in an EWS event, I chose to build a more aggressive Reign Advanced—trusting that this 160/160mm bike could get me up, over and through anything the first-year stages might throw my way.
At 225 pounds and 6-foot-5, I wanted to make sure my Reign Advanced build would be competitive in weight and performance, but also be able to handle any level of abuse the event might hold in store. To find this balance, I used a mix of sponsor-correct components and personal choices to build a Reign that was reasonably light but wouldn’t compromise on durability. A custom-tuned RockShox Lyric RCT3 fork and Super Deluxe Coil RT shock (with Super Alloy Racing spring) provided suspension duties, while tried-and-true DT Swiss EX 1501 aluminum rims mitigated any chance of wheel failure while racing in the jungle. The one risk I took was forgoing a SRAM drivetrain for Shimano’s XTR Di2 groupset. Electronics in the rainforest? Absolutely. Even in the muddiest conditions (and fully submerged in two significant river crossings), the Di2 drivetrain provided Swiss-watch shifting accuracy. I was truly impressed with its performance in the worst possible conditions.
The biggest challenge of the event was tire selection—and I flew down with a full selection of Maxxis options Minion DHR/DHF, Shorty and WetScream. In the end, I used the Minion setup for the urban DH stage and switched to the Shorty (front and rear) for the biblically muddy Sunday stages. In hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing about my Reign Advanced. At 33 pounds, it isn’t the lightest setup, but it was fast enough and, most important, got me safely home from deep within the Colombian rainforest.
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