1.) I HATE riding with a hydration pack. I knew this before Blackwater but decided to try it anyway and while it did work, it cost me several precious seconds in T1 and T2 while it put it on and took it off. "Well, Derek, why did you not run with it on?", you ask. That, Dear Reader, is because while I hate wearing it to ride....
2.) I HATE running with a hydration pack even more than I HATE riding with one. They bounce, they slosh around, they rub my shoulders in a tri kit. In short, they are not my thing. So that left me with putting the pack on in T1 before the bike then taking it off again in T2 before the run. That's wasted time in my opinion if there is a solution for keeping hydration on the bike. "That's why they make bottles, Derek". Yes, Reader, I agree.... BUT
3.) When I'm riding hard, I always forget to reach down and get a bottle to drink. Also, the time involved to reach down, retrieve bottle, drink and replace bottle means a lot of one handed riding which means increased opportunity for disaster. So, to that end, when I found this Speedfil solution, I decided to give it a shot and either prove the complainers wrong.. or right.
Basically, what you get in the Speedfil F2 Off Road Bundle package is a bottle with a lid that has a straw along with a little retractable mount to attach the hose to the handlebar. Installation of the Speedfil F2 was a breeze. The biggest hurdle was figuring out where on the handlebar I wanted to mount the little retract-o-matic hose keeper thingy. After a few test fits, I found a spot I liked and then cut the hose to the correct length. That's it. Easy peasy.
I gave the setup it's first test run in the woods today. I must say, I'm quite pleased with the performance. The hose keeper thingy worked very well keeping the hose where I wanted it without it jumping around. Taking a drink was easy since the hose was mounted so close to my hand it made it very convenient to grab the hose and once it was safely in my mouth my hand was quickly back on the bar whilst I got my drink. Then, when finished drinking the hose keeper retracts the hose automatically to the handlebar. My other concern was splashing or spillage from the hose tip onto the handlebar or my hand/grip/etc. Again, there was no issue here. After 18 miles and 2 hours of riding there were only one or two drops of my beverage that had splashed out.
Lastly, let's talk about the hose position. OK, so I will admit here is where I had my only real "issue" with the system and I will say it's VERY minor. The way I had the hose run, my left knee would hit it when climbing out of the saddle. This will be easily remedied with the provided velcro strap that came with the kit (which I forgot to install before this ride). By using the velcro strap to guide the hose along the top tube, it should keep it out of the way without impacting the handling of the bike. Oh, and on the subject of bike handling, I never even knew it was there. Even on tight turns and switchbacks the hose never got in the way.
After the initial test, I must say, I'm pretty excited to try this setup out at Xterra Oak Mountain in a couple weeks. I do not think this will become a mainstay on my bike for non-racing situations but I do think in a race scenario it will work quite well. Stay tuned for my race report from Oak Mountain to see how things worked out!