Sunday, September 11, 2011
disclaimer: this shit doesn't matter.
now that that's out of the way, I did a race today. Montgomery Bell, home court, if-you-will. I'm fixin' to smash another win when out of nowhere, Kyle, the new mechanic at Bikers Choice (therefor, our team mechanic) shows up with his National Ultra Endurance Race Series legs and crushes my soul. he followed me around then straight-up rode away from me when we hit the climb. couldn't even begin to think about doing anything about it. it was completely awesome.
we started, six of us. I ended up first, because I'm nervous and impatient. Kyle was right behind me and we started getting a gap. by the time we got halfway around, we had a big gap, but I was pushing too hard. I was trying to figure out how to get my heart-rate under control before the climb when we hit the climb. Charlotte's Ridge is not the steepest climb on the course but it is far and away the longest. I knew Kyle would make a move but I had no idea he was going to literally just ride away from me. at first, it broke my heart. but then I got my shit together and kept pushing. he went faster on the second lap, eventually breaking the unofficial course record prior to lining up for the 3 lap category 1 race. totally badass. totally inspiring.
so what was the difference? couple things. Kyle was using a lower gear, a 32x19 as opposed to my 32x18. he was having a much easier time getting the pedals around going up the hills. more than that, Kyle couldn't possibly weigh 140lbs soaking wet. I tipped the scale at 192 this morning, post-dump. Kyle's bike is sub-19 lbs (I'm guessing), mine must weight 23 lbs and most of the over-weightness is in the wheels (the worst place) which brings us to the topic of this conversation (that I'm having with myself).
I've run the same tires since I started riding SS 29 4 years ago. WTB Exiwolfs, 2.3 in. I ride them till the rear wears out, then I move the front to the rear and buy a new one. it's a highly efficient system that produces minimal waste (since I can run a rear tire till it's bald so long as I've got tread out front). unfortunately, these tires are exceptionally heavy for a kevlar (foldable) tire. 825 grams claimed weight. I love the feel of a big tire, it floats over everything, I never break traction, I can run super-low pressure, it has a beautiful round profile. but it's super heavy, and a bigger wheel and single speed exacerbates the main issues with heavy wheels: slow acceleration and difficulty keeping the wheel rolling at low speed.
when it was time for me to choose my prize, a Bontrager Team Issue tire caught my eye. I had a set of Bontrager's years ago and loved the round profile. This tire was listed as a 2.0 and I hadn't ridden anything that small since the 90's, but it only weights 510g... so I picked it up, and mounted it up. turns out it really small. I measured the new tire and my old tire and found that the WTB is actually a 2.25 and the Bontrager is a 1.75. a 1.75! that's like cyclocross size. I watched the World Championship XC race on Freecaster and those guys are all using super small tires, so it can't be crazy... but it looks pretty strange paired up with the balloon on the front. I'm going to take it for a spin, see if it might work as a race tire, if it does I'll find something like a WTB Nano or a Maxxis Ikon to put on the front, match it up a little and hopefully save some weight.
back in the day, we always ran a smaller rear tire. we thought it was the best of both worlds; faster acceleration on the rear but a fat front tire for ripping (fatter is faster when you head down, don't argue). I got away from that when I started riding SS 29er but I'm starting to think I may be missing something... like I said, doesn't matter. the main reason Kyle beat me was because he's really really fast. and strong. I might also add he's proving to be a damn good mechanic, free of attitude and ego, meticulous and concise. good to get beat sometimes, especially by someone like Kyle.