Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 3

I woke up very tired this morning. It was painful to get out of bed, I felt hung-over despite not really drinking last night. I decided to try a local group ride, leaving from the burbs @10am.

I was immediately concerned when I saw that there was a guy on a recumbant (sp?). But ended up having a great ride. 45ish miles through some very pretty country roads. The dude on the recumbant was a hero. I'm pretty sure he could hang in the BoCoMo peloton as long as there wasn't a ton of climbing.

The Mailot Jaune was unbelievable. Easily, one of the best handling and most comfortable fast road bikes I've ever ridden.

I keep going back and forth about how to approach equipment choices in mountain biking the season. Right now, I have my lynskey and 2 Kona cross bikes (1 geared, the other ss). I feel about the same with regard to the lynskey and the Major Jake as I do wih the Mailot Jaune. The folks I want to be competing with all are choosing different options and it is making it kind of interesting: dual suspension 26in, dualie 29er, hardtail 29er. I'm tempted to change something. I love single speed mountain biking; bought my first ss from Gino when he still worked at TC back in 2006 and my only experience with geared mountain bikes since then resulted in an irreparably (although questionably so) damaged derailleur hanger.

One gear got me strong last summer. It was also a ton of fun. But after this past cross season and some late-summer mountain bike races, it is partially that I have something to prove to myself, but also a desire to keep pushing it with regards to competition. I've always been intensely competitive with myself and one great thing about the small racing scene in Missouri is that the intention can be self-competition but also focused on pushing other racers. Making them less comfortable or just raising the bar. I hate to say it, but here it goes: beating butthead up that climb at the Mt Pleasant cx race flipped a switch. I want to see how hard I can push myself in relation to others.

I'm planning on sitting down with Karl @ Klunk and talking to him about ideas in terms of changing things up. I actually don't know if I want another bike. I love my lynskey and I've also come to appreciate how important it is to actually ride a bike before thinking that it would be good for me. Money is the biggest limiting factor in this decision but some ideas I've had are:

1. Only riding my single speed and changing the gear according to the course...basically hoping for that magic moment when I'm just as fast as the local hard-men

2. Getting a group for the lynskey: 1x9 or 2x10 for sure...but probably just 1x9 and then going back and forth a couple of times throughout the season between one or multiple gears and maybe also having the option of fully rigid vs front shock (I can't tell you the number of times I lock my fork out and love it)

3. Having a second mountain bike, maybe a dual suspension (which I've read are pretty well proven to be faster and a bunch of fast dudes will be riding them...but one, I've never even ridden a dualie and two, I lock my fork out so much as it is and am pretty well a full 29er convert...and a light 29er dual suspension is DEFINITELY not in the deck of cards at this point).

4. Selling the lynskey frame and then doing some combo for option 2.

I wish #3 were an option, but I really don't think reality is such at this point in my life to make it happen.


James Nelson said...

I feel like I'm in a similar boat. I really enjoy riding the SS, but sometimes wonder if I road with gears would I be better off. Although you are at another level much above me. Sort of a chicken and egg argument for me. Riding the SS makes you learn to roll more, climb faster and generally works me over over more and therefore makes me faster. Pretty much get on a ride, nothing to worry about. When I get on a geared bike I feel a little out of place and end up locking out the suspension, standing, and pretty much ride it like a SS most of the time. Maybe riding your Ti bike with a 1x9 would be best.

Black Matt said...

Here are my thoughts:
1. I genuinely believe that it is possible to be equally competitive on a SS for MTB racing as you would be on a geared bike. Others will disagree, but I feel that you are forced to climb so much faster than you would with gears that on most courses, you are not at a disadvantage. You can descend equally fast with 29" wheels and a suspension fork as someone on a full suspension so you're only giving up time on the flats, something that you should be making up on climbs. Locally, the only course I see as a total disadvantage for SS is Lost Valley. Look at your lap times vs. Ploch's at Greensfelder for evidence.
2. If you feel gears are worth trying, gear you Lynsky since you are in tune with that bike and a 29'er front suspended fork is one of the best options for racing.
3. I feel that the fastest set ups across the board are either 29'er hardtails with a suspension fork or a 26" full suspension. Full suspension 29'ers are great riding bikes, but it takes major money to get one under 26 lbs, which I feel is the heaviest an XC racing bike should be with pedals. Either a 29 HT or 26 FS gives the compliance necessary to descend at speed and neither are abusive to the point where you fatigue as much toward the end of a two hour race. Granted, there are many racers who are super fast on 26 HT's, but I guarantee all of them are in more pain at the end of a race than they would be on a full suspension or 29'er. Studies show that full suspension is faster and leaves the rider fresher than a HT and similar studies say the same thing about 29'ers vs. 26 full suspension. Obviously, the rider matters most, but you can check VeloNews to see the testing they did on the subject.
4. The Lalonde brother won every WORS race two seasons ago on rigid single speeds and they were racing people who were on the US worlds CX team. They also finished minutes in front of the fastest St. Louis racers who made the trip to any of those races.
5. A rigid fork is great for climbing on a single speed, but incredibly abusive descending. You may think you like it locked out better, but a Reba is designed with a blow off and a lack of complete rigidity at its stiffest setting, so it is far more compliant even locked out than a rigid fork would be. The only thing you gain with a rigid fork is a lighter set up and the ability to feel superior to the other riders.
6. I don't believe it's possible to be competitive in CX races on a single speed against people on geared bikes, but that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Scott said...

I dont even have enough time to read what the fuck Matt just wrote, but, also agree with the parts I did read. If you are fast..... you are fast. If you are slow..... you are slow. Some bikes will help you..... some bikes will slow you. Breslin rode a 26 hard tail last year and did great.

I will be riding a 26 hard tail again this year due to money. I would love a full suspension but cant afford it. However, I really doubt it would make a big difference in my results. Show up, ride your ass off, the results will declare the winner.

Thanks for your updates every day, Dan. Very inspirational.