December 28, 2010
A great cycling year is coming to an end. There has been some developments in my life that have enabled me to ride my bike more than before and I've tried to take advantage of that. I changed jobs in March and now work for Capital City Cycles in downtown Victoria. This change involved more freedom to attend races all over the island and I had a big season as a result. I attended all XC races in the Island Cup series and a few of the Downhill races as well as most of the CX races. I've raced more this year than I have in my life so far combined, and as a result I've learned a few things which I'd like to share on this log. So here goes: Things that worked: Niner MCR (has worked flawlessly for me) 2009 Trek Remedy 8 (although not a great choice for downhill, it gave me the chance to try my hand at that sport, and has been my all mountain machine all year) Sram X7/X9 drivetrain Shimano XT drivetrain Consistency in racing Training some Slow and steady (don't crash, don't flat) Maxxis Aspen 29" tires for dry conditions Maxxis Minion Tires for all mountain riding Michelin Mud 2 CX tires (they wear super fast, so there is a minus for that) Schwalbe Racing Ralph CX tires (allthough not as fast as the Muds they hook up very well in nasty conditions) Specialized Captain S-Works 29" tire. Shimano XTR, DX Pedals Vittoria Rubino Pro and Rubino road tires Rock Shox Reba (QR version is very flexy, it has held up for 10 months however) Spandex! Things that did not work: Bontrager Race saddle (I thought I was loosing my manhood in the middle of the Test of Metal) Racing hung over... Rock Shox Lyrik 2-step (I jinxed it as I put it in the things that did work list but blew it up last week just before the end of the year) IRD Butted steel touring/CX fork (bent in a freak cx accident) Thinking I could take a break from riding before cross season... Bar-end shifters in cross, and for road riding...only suitable for touring in my opinion (note: those did not fail but are just uncomfortable and slow for racing situations and fast rides) Anatomic bend drop handlebars Deep drop bars in Cross Racing on worn out tires in Cross Low Tire Pressures in Cross (flats galore...lets face it: I'm over 220lbs) DT Swiss 470SL wheels (lots of broken spokes, too flexy) Not eating breakfast before racing... Easton EA70 carbon seatpost (snapped) Maxxis Minions 2-ply as a downhill tire (lots of flats) Specialized Fasttrack 29" tire (got better after I customized the tread with side cutters) Truvative Hussafelt Cranks, junk. Learned: Polo is not for me Downhill is an exercise in patience as well as tolerance for spoiled teenage boys and their attitude. Preriding UP to and down the course in downhill is not necessarily a good idea. Road riding is fun, and amazing training tool XC racing is surprisingly welcoming and unpretentious XC marathon racing is stupidly hard but very good for the soul Roadies in a XC race will not let you pass-wait for the mistake and take advantage I'm not a fast climber Elbows get thrown in cross (it's not a myth) Flat un-technical CX courses make me grumpy (see above) CX: The worse the conditions, and the more technical course = more fun Downhill: the better the conditions and the more technical course = more fun XC: See downhill In 2010 my main goal was to do the Test of Metal in Squamish. So I started riding more than usual in the beginning of the year and then as the XC season started, I decided it would be good for my fitness to race some of those races. I was surprised how much fun I was having in those races and I was placing pretty well, so I got kind of hooked on it. Previously I had some prejudice about xc riders and xc racing, pertaining in part, to their choice of dress. This was narrow minded and stupid of me and I found out that XC racing is really one of truest, and least pretentious forms of mountain biking. I ended up taking the win in the Intermediate category of the series and I did this simply by showing up for every race and being consistent. I did not win a single race! I raced a few downhills as well this year and that helped a bit with my confidence and technical skills, even though my placement was not great in any of them, I believe my best finish was 12th in Port Alice. All this racing whipped me into decent shape for the Test, and I did pretty well in that one too. But after all that racing in the first part of the year I took a big break in July, which accidentally lasted until about mid September. This made for a sloppy Cross season, I think my best placement was about 8th place in Duncan. Although that was disappointing it was a good lesson and I can't wait for the next season. Next year is looking just as epic as this one was and I hope everyone gets as much riding in as possible. Keep your eyes peeled for the Victoria International Cycling Festival in June 2011. That's going to be great for the city and cycling on the South Island. Even sooner though, the annual Blubber Burn Classic CX race is on this month and as always it should be a hell of a time. More details on that one soon! Happy New Year Everyone! May you ride new trails and reach new goals.