June 20, 2012

Race Report - Bike Report

Not as excited to write about this week in the form of a race report from Camrock. I got pretty blown out there Sunday and not quite sure what happened. The whole evening after the race I was shattered, I mean shattered more than I have been after a race in a long, long time. So shattered I didn't really even eat much until about 10pm and that probably didn't help things at all. Not sure what was up with that but it was really weird. I was super tired on the way to the race but I usually get over that by the time I get on the bike and warm up. I felt good the first 2 laps of the race but Corey let a bit of a gap open up on Nathan during that or the 3rd lap in the singletrack and right away I knew we were in trouble. By the time the course opened up and we came out Nathan was gone, I'm guessing 20 second gap. I could ride with Nathan in the tight stuff if we were together, but getting that time back was probably out of reach already for me since it's so tight in there and I didn't know the course very well. Corey attacked pretty hard on the 4th lap up the major climb to try and get back Nathan he and dropped me right away on the climb, I was having some cramping issues and didn't have the acceleration so I had to let him go. That's when I kind of mentally gave up on the race, we were catching masive amounts of lapped traffic at that point and it was too frustrating trying to pass and go fast at the same because it was an endless line of riders and I was catching them faster than I could even say anything. Not good for racing at all and very frustrating for us all. Once I got in that zone it didn't take Mark or Mike long to catch me and I pretty much rode out the race with them and sprinted Mike for 3rd. As it would have it, I sprinted basically into the back of a lapped person and that was the end of the sprinting too - not a very exciting finish for a race that was going ok for a while. Still can't explain why I was so exhausted but sometimes there isn't an explanation. I know Nathan wanted that race bad after flatting last year so good for him, put 2:30 on us in 2.5 laps so that is pretty good. He flew back from CO Springs the morning of too, I know how that is, if he had told me he only slept 3 hrs I would have for sure put my $$$ on him for the win because I normally race the best when I do that.

So, the plan had been to finish the race on the Giant Anthem X and then go out on the Giant XTC 0 hardtail 29" and do a lap to see how they differed. Instead I went and sat in my car and almost fell asleep except my legs kept cramping up so I went and spun them out a little. Still, I have probably been on the XTC 0 for about 7 hours total and a few people have asked my opinion on how the bikes differ so I'll do a little review here even though it's not on the course right after the race.

So far, what I have noticed is that no matter what size wheel you are riding, a hardtail feels rougher than a full suspension with no doubt. It is also feels way more agile, nimble, and quick which I really like, but I haven't noticed that is any smoother because of the bigger wheels. Granted, I haven't been able to ride a 26" and then directly onto the 29" but I have ridden 26" hardtails a lot over the years and so far it seems that it feels just as rough as a 2. That said I have also been riding a 26" full suspension and anything is going to feel rough after that so maybe that is going to be too hard to tell. I did park on the back of the course on Sunday I was watching the Sport men ride through and it looked like about 90% of them were on hardtails. None of them were pedaling where I was watching because it was too bumpy and they were all getting tossed around. Everyone of the 10% that came through on the full suspensions were planted on their seats and pedaling - for the most part that tells me more than anything that full suspension might be more important to most people than wheel size when it comes to pedaling on rough terrain. You really have to have tons of technique and power when it comes to riding hardtails on really bumpy ground and what I was seeing wasn't good.

What I have noticed though with the 29" wheel more than anything is something I can't really describe but during fast descending or climbing, the enertia or spin the of the wheel feels better it seems. It feels more stable. If you have ever held your front wheel between your hands and spun it on it's axel, it wants to spin straight and if you try to tip it side to side it is very hard to do and wobbles really bad. I think this has something to do with why the larger diameter of the 29" wheel feels more stable at speed from the 26". I'm not sure the science on that, but just out on the trails it has this feeling of wanting to track straight and it feels really good. Something that surprised me is that the 29" bike feels just as nimble in cornering as my 26" bike does. I had thought the 29er would feel slower or bulky but so far, without being in race situation, I haven't noticed that at all which. I also really haven't been able to tell an acceleration difference between the big and little wheels, both wheelsets I have are really light and I'm sure that helps a lot but I just haven't noticed anything to comment on. I would say not noticing that on a 29er says something though since I think the common thought is the larger/heavier  wheel will feel harder to accelerate. I just haven't noticed that.

So, I think at this point I'm still planning on doing most of my races on the 26" bike and keeping the 29er for a few select races. I still love the feeling of standing and accelerating on a 20lb hardtail, it feels so fast, but like I said, if you can't sit down and pedal when the course calls for it full suspension is probably more important than wheel size.


Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis. I enjoyed reading your evaluations of the differences between the two bikes; I feel it's honest and well thought out.
Sorry your last race was a disappointment, but again, even that was an honest appraisal of your situation. People appreciate humility in top performers.

Jack said...

Thanx for the feedback on the your rides. Coming from an aluminum HT 29er, I'm now on the aluminum 26" model of the Anthem X and I'm definitely loving it. Smaller wheels (for me)are a little easier to throw around, but the full-suspension aspect of the bike helps with efficiency and comfort. Ultimately, that equals speed.
I look forward to reading more of the blog reports. Thanx again.