Wednesday, September 30, 2009
So I admit I have been really bad at updating this. Settling into the new job and the new schedule has been a little difficult. I'm slowly weaning myself off the late night routine. But you don't care about that so onto the important bit.
Last Sunday was the OMBC West Branch race. It was a nice change of place having a race less then 15 minutes from my house. I enjoyed sleeping in and lazily making my way to the race. It was also a nice to see so many familiar faces. I get to see most of the racers at each race but it's nice to see the locals. It seemed everyone was there. I was happy to meet Dave Ruller, the city manager of Kent. Someone I have been talking to in trying to get a trail built in Kent.
The day before it rained pretty hard all day, and I was looking forward to another muddy ride. I was let down to see the trail holding up well, (from a race standpoint, but I gotta give credit to CAMBA's trail crew who have put in a lot of work to make this trail sustainable.) However, the roots and rocks were slick as ice. As always I got the hole-shot onto the single track. I had built up a decent lead and was feeling good until I noticed my front quick release was loose. I had to stop and fix it and let second place pass, while 2nd and 3rd fell in behind me. We stayed together in a pack until second place slipped on a uphill and I took the lead again.
It seemed like a yo-yo was attached to me at the point. As one of the other 3 riders would catch me and I would either be able to pull away or I would here them go down behind me. This played out for most of the race. Near the end I slipped on an uphill and the second place rider bridged the gap. I was now sitting behind a rider from another class. I knew if I could stay in front of him I could hopefully hold him off till the end. I followed the other rider until the last hill, where I said "Passing on your left" and started sprinting up the hill. I had used the rider as a block and him having to find a place to pass gave me enough time to reopen the gap and get the win.
The other big news was I got to get in some cyclocross practice today with Johhny P and Robert Sroka. I took their collective knowledge and learned as much as I could. Thanks guys for helping me out. It was last minute for me so I showed up a little late and opted to go in instead of warming up first, since daylight was slipping. This was a mistake. We did a couple sprint starts, dismounts/remounts and cornering. I now have a couple drills to work on when I practice so I should be ready for my first race. Which I'm really looking forward to.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Velonews.com's Matt Pacocha has been experimenting with different wheel sizes and different platforms this summer. It all started in his article on the National Championships where in the top 5 a 26 ht wasn't represented. A 26 hardtail wasn't represented until 6th place. Interesting fact, out of the top five in the mens category three were Gary Fisher Superflys. His conclusion that technology had progressed in suspension design and in the design of 29ers that it would only be time until the 26 hardtail was dead.
The most interesting part of the article was this paragraph that ended the article,
"Is the 26-inch hardtail dead? Yes, I think so. Of course, you’ll continue to see the traditionalists and Europeans using them. And you’ll also some of the world’s most talented riders, like Orbea’s Julien Absalon, on them. But I would suspect that if these racers aren’t careful they’ll eventually be caught out. Maybe then, if the manufacturers can keep the steep technological development curve going, it’ll mean our U.S. racers who are willing to accept 29-inch wheels and full suspension will have the upper hand they need to win some big races."
Now there's a couple things that this paragraph entails:
1) The current US riders are using inadequete bikes, and that with more technological development the 29er and full suspension bikes will eventually be the better bike.
2)Europeans appearantly are staunch tradiontionalist and won't switch over away from 26 ht's and if they do it will be too late.
3)And most importantly an American will only win when they have bike that gives them an advantage.
His second article which was titled "Despiste the world's results, Velonew's Matt Pacocha says tests show 29-inch wheels are faster." In this article he did a test to see which one platform was fastest. The 26 hardtail, 26 full-suspension or 29 hardtail. Here's him describing the test:
"Over the course of 14 days I rode a full-suspension bike and hardtail bike 28 times on our 3.1-mile test course. Both bikes were built from aluminum and the position of the bikes was matched. The weight of the bikes differed by roughly one pound. The same wheelset was used on both bikes and tire pressure was kept the same. The bikes also used the same gearing. They were ridden in the same smooth-pedaling manner; riding out of the saddle created power spikes and was therefore avoided. Data was gathered using Garmin’s 705 GPS unit and a PowerTap Disc hub."
Now I give him the benefit of the doubt for trying to make the test as scientific as possible, however, his real world tests weren’t real world. Well let’s be serious it’s the real world that defeats any test of a bike. The most blatant and hard thing to control is the human factor, each riders size, style and skill will determine what bike will be best for them. He doesn’t give us any information on what the human factors. We also don’t know what bike’s he was riding. He states that “positions” of the bikes are the same. That is all well and good, but it doesn’t say the dimensions where the same. A different head angle, shorter wheelbase all lead to a different ride. If we really want to know what’s faster in wheel size, then the test should be the same dimensions with the only difference being the wheel size.
I also feel that taking away standing skews the results because that is the main reason why I chose my 26 hardtail as my race bike, I spend a lot of my time when I climb out of the saddle, I also sprint a lot more and it’s those features that make a 26 hardtail what it is.
Now the course description:
“The test course consisted of just under a mile of rolling, lightly technical terrain, a half-mile climb gaining 50 feet in elevation, 1.2 miles of non-technical but bumpy flat double track and a half-mile of twisty, fast-descending singletrack with three moderately technical sections.”
Roughly 3 miles of riding? I understand wanting to make it a smaller course to keep rider mistake out of the equation, but how often do most riders do a three miles loop? The other thing is 50 feet of climbing in half a mile is not a climb. That’s a 1% grade. Which isn’t enough to test the climbing prowess of each bike.
So, the conclusion of the test was that the 29er was a minute faster than any other bike and the Full suspension bike was second. Hence, the 26 hardtail was dead. Now I’m a numbers person on the bike, I keep all my information from my Garmin. Now on my 3.6 mile loop I’ve found the fastest times have been on my 26 inch fully rigid single speed. Now on other trails, my Full suspension is faster (think West Branch). Even on different days a different bike may be faster because of my fatigue level and line choice.
I think instead of arguing which one is faster, cause no matter what bike your choose it’s your legs that are powering it, instead lets focus on the good. Now we have an excuse to have another bike. No matter what bike you choose it’s going to be the rider who makes it faster. So stop the fighting, ride what you brought and have fun!