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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

May 4, 2005

Wendy Simms' Brodie Spark

Photo ©: Norman Thibault

Privateer special

The front end
Photo ©: Normon Thibault
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SID lock-out lever
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A couple of carbon stacers
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FSA stem
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Shimano XT cranks
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Shimano XTR rear mech
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Time for a cable replacement.
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Selle Italia saddle
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Maxxis Oriflamme tyres
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Geax sealant
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Wendy Simms rides at the front
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Wendy Simms' rig
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Wendy Simms
Photo ©: Normon Thibault
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"Wendy who?" That was the question announcers, reporters, spectators and most of her competitors were asking at last month's Sea Otter mountain bike stage race about Canadian privateer racer Wendy Simms. During the first stage, the Super XC, Simms was in the top five riders for the entire race and finished the sprint in 4th but did not hear her name announced once.

"They were announcing all the girls around me and even some in the second group. I was hoping to get a little recognition while I was suffering out there-especially since I was on the podium for the Super XC last year," said Simms after the race. The confusion about Simms continued when they interviewed her before the stage one podium presentation. The announcer said, "So Wendy this development team you are riding for, Frontrunners, they are doing some great things for the sport of mountain biking?" Wendy laughed, "Well actually Frontrunners is my boyfriend's running store and although they sponsor 50 athletes I am the only higher level cyclist. The only reason they sponsor me is by default."

Simms finished the weekend with a huge grin and a mountain bike career highlight of second place in the final cross countrystage. After placing fourth in the Super XC, 11th in the TT and sixth in the short track and with the time bonus from her XC second place she ended up third overall for the event. If mountain biking had a "black rebel jersey" for the highest place rider without a pro contract, Simms would have earned it.

Not a newbie

Wendy Simms is not a complete unknown in cycling, having won the 2003 and 2004 Canadian National Cyclocross championships and placed a Canadian high of 12th place at the World Cyclocross Championships in 2005. In 2004 she was 11th overall at Sea Otter and had some great performances in Canadian mountain biking despite a series of problems from a car accident and training crashes which hampered her 2004 race season.

This year Simms focused on Sea Otter as an early season goal. Her full time job as a biologist at Malaspina University in Nanaimo requires her to do an annual field study course for the month of May. The field study course, in Belize, means no riding and no training for four weeks. When she returns Simms plans on focusing on some road for July and the last Canada Cup mountain bike races in August before turning her attention back to Cyclocross and the Crank Brothers series for the fall. Simms says she would like to do more NORBA and World Cup races but without a major sponsor or team there are no funds available for such trips.

Not your typical factory ride

Pro riders don't usually pay for their own bike parts, maintain their bikes or even have choices in picking their equipment, but a privateer like Simms has to carefully balance money, durability, weight and 'deals' to pick the important pieces for their race rig. Wendy Simm's (borrowed!) Brodie Spark is a mix mash of parts and almost all of them have a story...

Brodie (www.brodiebikes.com) is a small Canadian company based in Vancouver, B.C. It was started in 1986 by Paul Brodie whose bikes were made legendary in the singletrack in British Columbia. In the mid 90's Paul sold the company and now Brodie has a full line of bikes but its focus is mainly freeride and downhill bikes. Canadian cycling legend, Bruce Spicer, is a friend of Simms' and works in product development and specifications at Brodie. Since Brodie does not have a race budget Bruce gets her as much 'unofficial' gear as he can.

While Wendy awaits a new prototype carbon Brodie hard tail she has been making do with a bike that has actually been stolen from her boyfriend's stable. He built it up for racing the usually technically undemanding X-Terra races in B.C. and on Maui. A hard tail is not the ideal bike for riding on Vancouver Island where full suspension is more suited but for NORBA, Sea Otter and Canada Cup races it is a great choice.

The Spark frame that Simms rides is from 2003 and has been discontinued. It is super light (1.14kg) in an 18in size which is perfect to build up a race specific hard tail. Simms describes the ride of the Scandium Brodie as being "BMXy or zippy". She says it handles quickly and due to its light weight it, "climbs faster than I can." The frame sports Canadian style clear hockey tape to protect the finish from cable and heel rub - privateers have to worry about such things. The Rock Shox Team SID fork was purchased through one of Wendy's long time supporting shops, Steed Cycles in North Vancouver. It is equipped with a well used lock out lever located by the left shifter.

Beg, buy and borrow

With a limited budget, sometimes parts have to be bought second hand. Simms' wheels, cassette, front derailleur, levers and V-brakes all came from Victorian Maxxis rider, Geoff Kabush after his contract with Kona expired. Geoff is known to be very supportive of up and coming riders and helped Wendy out with the build on her race bike.

The Crank brothers Egg Beater Triple Ti pedals were pirated off Simms' Pink Surly cyclo-cross bike and originally procured through a running shoe trade with Oak Bay Bikes in Victoria along with the Shimano XT cranks and XTR rear derailleur (the only 'current model' parts on the whole bike). All the other parts on the bike were bought through Wendy's boyfriend/fiancée's running store, Frontrunners (www.frontrunners.ca), in Nanaimo which happens to have some suppliers that deal in running as well as cycling supplies.

The tires have a special story. After racing her first NORBA in late March Simms realized that she needed some faster tires for the fast courses in the US. She contacted Eric Wallace from the Maxxis team in the hope of getting some fast rolling Maxxis tires. It turned out that the Oriflammes that Geoff Kabush uses quite often are a hot commodity and hard to get (impossible to find in Canada) but Eric dug her up a set of old ones that Geoff had been using. The condition of the gift was that Wendy had to have some good performances on them. This condition was satisfied but Simms insists that there must have been some good 'Kaboom' mojo left in them.

Keeping going as a privateer mountain bike racer is no small - or cheap - task, and Simms was very keen to stress the support she gets from Brodie and Helly Hansen Canada, TUFO North America, and eNVy Chainrings as well as the shops; Steed Cycles in North Vancouver and Oak Bay Bikes in Victoria. PLUS of course that "development team" that is shaking up mountain biking, Frontrunners the running shop in Nanaimo B.C.!

Maybe next time we feature Wendy Simms bike it'll be a full pro rig. Any teams need a female mountain biker, cyclo-crosser, road racer, street luger, and adventure racer?

Photos

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Normon Thibault

 

Full specification

Frame: 2003 Brodie Spark 18in (457.7mm seat tube) Scandium 7000 Frame, 74° Seat angle, 71.2° head tube with 100mm fork; 23in/584mm Top tube, Chain stay length 16.75in/ 425.5mm; 12in/300mm BB height
Fork: Rock Shox Sid Team with remote
Color: Silver with Red “accents”

Cranks and Bottom Bracket: Shimano XT 2004
Chain: SRAM PC99
Front derailleur: Shimano XTR (2003)
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR (2004)
Sprockets: Shimano XTR (2003) 12-34

Brakes: Shimano XTR V Brakes (2002)
Levers: Shimano XTR (2002)

 

Wheels: Wheelsmith prepared - Shimano XTR (2002) hubs, Mavic 517 Rims, Wheelsmith Spokes (double butted), 28 hole front, 32 hole rear, Salsa Ti QRs
Tires: Maxxis Oriflamme 2.0 with Stans no Tubes

Bar: Easton CT2 (Flat 3 degree sweep)
Stem: FSA XC115
Grips: Serfas
Bar ends: Serfas
Headset: Chris King (red cap)

Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeater Triple Ti

Seat post: Thompson with layback 27.2
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR

Bottle Cages: Specialized
Other: Geax tire sealant-inflator, sometimes runs Avid cable-disc brakes depending on conditions.

Total Bike Weight: Around 9.5kg depending on final mix of race day parts.