Protect Yourself! By Jen Castle (Jr_Bullit) If youre into whats commonly referred to as extreme sports and you enjoy pushing yourself to the limit and beyond in terms of levels of adrenaline pumping through your veins, besides the gear needed to take that leap, what is the most important form of equipment you can buy? Why thats easy, any form of equipment or gear designed to increase your personal safety. Its the sort of gear that provides enough protection to allow you the opportunity to embellish your insane tale of adventure over a good beer, rather than moan about it in a hospital bed. If youre into extreme versions of cycling such as downhill racing and free-riding, the important protective gear generally falls into two categories: helmets and body armour. As the name would suggest, Washington State based Rapid Descent Racing (RDR) Team members love going fast, downhill. The primary operative often goes something like, how can I get to the bottom of this hill as fast as possible, and conquer that massive rock drop in the process? However, surviving that massive rock drop is equally as important to the team, and they focus on testing various forms of protective gear when given the opportunity. The team recently had such an opportunity, and spent a large portion of their racing season testing out Casel-Equi protective gear. Casel-Equi has been manufacturing protective gear for numerous sports for over eleven years, using contributions from professional athletes in numerous sports to design the best gear for its various purposes. First and foremost, when choosing Casel-Equi body armour make certain that you have the correct size of gear for your body. One interesting note, unlike many popular brands of body armour, when purchasing Casel-Equis protective gear you select your vest, and then you select your detachable protective sleeves. RDR tested the Pro-1000 vest combined with the BL-200 full arm sleeves. The vest is made up of large foam pads that are incorporated into the lining. This gives the vest the appearance of being bulky and stiff. However, once youve zipped up the front of your vest, admired the nifty pockets designed to hold important things like your insurance card, and adjusted the sides so that the vest conforms to your torso shape, you realize how comfortable this vest really is. The foam pads that absorb impact (rather than deflect it as many other plastic-encased armours will) completely surround your torso, giving you total coverage. The sleeves attach to the torso with a super strong Velcro, and have plastic encased foam sections around your forearms, elbows, and shoulder areas. Following the vests example, the sleeves are also super adjustable, with Velcro straps running both below and above the elbow to ensure the best fit possible to your arms. One note though, if you choose to wear the body armour without some sort of undershirt, you will most likely be a little uncomfortable from the rub of the Velcro. On hot days, the Casel-Equi protective gear can get fairly toasty inside, if you stand around for awhile. Once you got started riding, however, the minor irritation of being warm fades away. Casel-Equi has done all sorts of nifty tests and experiments, studied physics like crazy, all to provide what they feel is the best protective gear out there. RDR went out and put all those experiments to the test, and they found that the Casel-Equi armour greatly exceeded their expections. Bouncing off rocks and trees, sliding down stretches of loose dirt and shale, at no point in time did the riders upper body receive even a bruise or did the armour itself show any wear and tear. Whats the hardest part about all this great protective gear? The process of getting it off of you when youve completed your ride. As with any synthetic material, when you sweat inside of it, and it fits snugly to your body, it can become quite a struggle to get it back off when youre done. Oh, and for those of you who absolutely cant stand smelling like a gym sock after a few rides, the Casel-Equi vest benefits from a product called FENDOFF, which essentially protects the fabric from bacteria, fungus and body odor. To learn more about Casel-Equi protective gear, and how to get some for yourself, visit: www.yodobike.com and click on the Casel-Equi link on the left.