Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for advice where people have raced a fat bike. I have been riding a fat bike in the winter for about 3 years. A few months ago, I upgraded to a Borealis Echo. This will be my 4th year racing the Butte 50, an extremely hard endurance race. There is a ton of climbing and I am a 215 pound fit guy. I have problems with cramping about 30-35 miles into the race regardless of what I do. I raced my Santa Cruz Solo last year and improved my time over my previous SC Blur. I think it was 50% bike and 50% more fitness. I am thinking of racing the fat bike this year and I was wondering if it would beat me up too much. The fat bike seems to be doing similar times on my training rides. The race takes me about 8 hours to complete. Fat Bike: 27 pounds/Great climbing/Great cornering/Average Downhill/Super comfortable/
Santa Cruz: 27 pounds/Good climber/Good cornering/Great Downhill/somewhat comfortable after long rides

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
At 8 hours for 50 miles if the fat bike has gearing low enough that's what I would take.
Do you run 1x10 on the Borealis? If it's 2x10 that would be my choice.

I wouldn't think cramping would benefit from either, if one is more comfortable for whatever reason that would trump anything else (since the bikes weigh the same and are similarly capable on this ride).

My fat bike weighs 10lbs more than my hardtail 29er, so my choices are easier. I rode a demo Echo in the Fat Tire Birkie (28 miles, snow) and definitely considered riding one year round. Loved the bike, still haven't justified the price though. Need mid life crisis to come around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I currently have XX1 on both bikes with a 28 teethe chainring in front. I am trying to figure out the cramping thing. I have been trying all the methods that have worked for other people. I am pretty sure it has something to do with pushing harder on race day and just being a bigger guy in the heat. For some reason on a long training ride, I get no cramps but it is like clockwork on race day. Last year my training was very extensive, so I could ride through most of the cramping.

Echo: The mid-life crisis definitely hit me. I went full carbon rims and all carbon components. My Reeb was weighing in at 35 pounds and the echo feels like a rocket in comparison. I think the combination of choosing the Borealis over the Santa Cruz on most rides has also made me ride it faster. It seems like I have extra power when climbing. The Santa Cruz is definitely a lot smoother on rocky downhill.

Thanks for the advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,836 Posts
I own a Solo and I fat bike a lot in the winter. My Solo can do it all from AM to XC racing. In fact, I am racing it tonight. I have it built up lightweight. Even though fat bikes tend to cancel out more harshness than normal hardtails, I'd say the Solo is the better fit. Having gobs of traction isn't as important on dry dirt. If the conditions are wet, then go with Echo.
 

·
MTB Racer
Joined
·
56 Posts
Minimize cramping...I take ZMA when I go to bed every night. A week before a race I make sure I'm hydrating. I'll even include Skratch Everyday Mix every day for the week leading up to the race - just to boost my electrolytes in my system. I'll also make sure to eat bananas during the week prior to the race.

Day of the race I make sure to have endurolytes from Hammer with me, I'll take them periodically and take more if it gets real hot. Keep drinking. I take a drink every 15-min. I'll drink plain water and I'll have a bottle of Skratch Exercise mix. With the Butte race its cold in the morning and its easy to forget to drink when the race first starts.

Day of the race food...I train eating the food I'm going to eat on the day of the race. Digestion needs water to digest, so when you eat make sure to follow it up with water. I now eat homemade rice cakes using recipes out of the Skratch's cookbooks. Rice is easy to digest, it contains moisture and it has a high glycemic index so energy gets into the blood stream quickly. At butte 100 I made sure I had a banana in each drop bag. I wouldn't eat the whole thing, maybe a couple bites. I should have taken the same advice at the Full Growler this year, as I ate a whole banana at one aid station...it took a while to digest!

For the bike setup...keep in mind ultra endurance is all about spending your energy wisely. i.e. rolling resistance, power applied to the pedals, easy pedal downhills, etc...I went 2x10 on my new bike just because I knew the lower gear ratio would help keep me from over exerting myself and hopefully help at mile 67 where my heart rate drops off a cliff.

For the basin creek climb...a friend disappeared on his triple setup. I just couldn't pedal my 2x10 on a lot of that climb and was forced to walk.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the cramping advice. I am about to the point where I would try anything. I do use the scratch lab stuff almost daily. I am a little concerned with my training this year too. We had a new addition to the family in January, so my training has consisted mainly of more short rides. More riding than usual but less 4+ hour rides.

Bike setup. I am thinking of trying a faster rolling tire on the Borealis. I currently run carbon rims and it is slightly lighter than my carbon Santa Cruz. Both bikes are setup similar (1X11 and about 28 pounds). I probably should invest in a dedicated XC racing bike with a double front chainring. I think my wife might finally have enough with my bike purchases at that point. So, that may not be an option for a while. The Borealis rips up Basin Creek with ease, as compared to the Solo. The extra traction and efficiency of the hard tail makes it cruise right up the climb. Granted I did this on fresh legs. Would the Borealis be the better option because all the climbing? Or would it beat the snot out of me when I finally reach the Highlands?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,266 Posts
The extra traction and efficiency of the hard tail makes it cruise right up the climb. Granted I did this on fresh legs. Would the Borealis be the better option because all the climbing? Or would it beat the snot out of me when I finally reach the Highlands?
I have never done that race and don't own a solo or a fatbike but the comment above makes me wonder if you are really using your suspension correctly and have it set up correctly? I wouldn't think the loss of efficiency for FS wouldn't be much at all if set up to climb especially compared to heavy tires.

Feel free to take it for what it is worth...thrown it out if you want.

I just don't see "racing" on a fatbike when you have a full suspension VPP bike that is known to have great stiffness and efficiency. Unless it is one of those things where you just want ot be out on the fatbike for the heck of it, than that is cool go get ummm!
 

·
Bad cat!
Joined
·
357 Posts
Rode my Salsa Mukluk in the Butte 50 3 years ago. Rode my Epic last year. Times were no comparison, much faster last year, but fitness and training were much different as well so not a fair comparison. I will say that the rigid, 32 lb Mukluk was the most fun ride of the three times I've done it. If you're having fun on your Borealis, which sounds awesome, then ride it... The only places it will suck are the opening 4 mi lap and that road section before Basin. Some sections of that kitty litter/ decomposed granite sand will have you grinning ear to ear while others are dreading a washout...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
Having done Butte 3 times, I would go with the solo. Put the lightest race tires you can on it. It will be so much less rolling resistance. The trails are so smooth I think the fatbike just adds rolling resistance and wheel weight. Even though the bikes weigh the same you should weigh the wheels to compare. The cumulative extra effort rolling those fatbike tires is gonna be a killer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
421 Posts
Additionally, I am also +/- 200 lbs. Being big is a major drawback for racing bicycles up hills. I run 2x on all my mtn bikes, always with a 22 tooth little ring. I am running a Tallboy with 36/22 and a 36t cassette. With tubeless Geax Mezcals, it nearly pedals itself up hills. For Montana riding, with the amount of steep long climbs we have, I don't foresee going 1x. Being able to not redline up the steeper climbs at Butte is critical over the length of the race.

How much training are you doing in terms of hours? This is the biggest factor by far in terms of cramps etc for me. I had 145 hours and 100k vert before my last Butte in 2012 and PRed at 7:30 ish. This year I should have 170 hours and 150k vert and expect to do better. I usually get some cramping at hour 6 or so and just have to push through.

My order of priority for Butte Success:
1. Training. Never enough.
2. Low enough gears to not blow up.
3. Light race tires run tubeless, 400g-ish.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,404 Posts
Solo.

Fast tires, but not too light on the sidewalls (8 Miles of Hell consideration).

I'm another big guy, and concur with your thoughts on cramping re not pushing quite at race pace and heat.

I did the Capitol Forest 100 yesterday. It was 94 degrees when we finished. Cramping was an issue during the last 35 miles.

I've tried it all. I avoided the pickle juice nonsense for a long time. Too easy! Has to be an old wive's tale! Dammit if it doesn't work.

See you there!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Ok. So, it is race week and I am still not completely decided on which bike yet. I've been riding them both and coming back with mixed results. I rode my Borealis on the new 25 mile race. It seemed to handle everything really well but I felt beat up by the end. Not sure if I was running too much air pressure. I made some suspension adjustments to the Solo and it seems to be more lively on the climbs. The downhill sections on the Solo are super plush. The main reason why I am thinking of racing the Borealis still is the Basin Creek climb. I am not sure if it is the traction or efficiency of a hard tail but the bike just eats up that climb. Basin creek is usually the one that I lose most of my ground in the race. The one thing that really made me think is a group ride we did a week ago. We ended up having to return on a gravel/dirt road with a lot of climbs. My fat bike kept pace with the strongest rider riding. He was riding a 26 pound 29er. Would the wider Q-factor be something that might be giving me more leverage??? Thanks for all your input and information.
 

·
MTB Racer
Joined
·
56 Posts
Solo.

25miles is not a good test for 100miles. 100 miles is about efficiency and managing power and heart rate.

Wider Q does not increase leverage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,836 Posts
Ride the bike that best matches the biggest portion of the route. Not a bike that will help you only on one section. I am doing a 70 mile race on my Solo in two weeks. It's a mix of tame XC trails, intermediate rocky trails and fire roads. The Solo is designed to handle all of those well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
367 Posts
i know its the 11th hour before the race but for the future... and if you have the budget, consider building up a 29+ wheelset for your echo for times like this . i just built up a nextie carbon 35mm rim wheelset with cheapo innova vidar tires and i am surprised at how light and fast it really feels. i wouldn't even consider an endurance race on a fat bike but would love to try it in 29+ trim.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Ok. I wanted to thank everybody for their insight and input and give an update on the race. I ended up racing the Solo with lighter race tires. On the week of the race, I had a mechanic checking both bikes. The Borealis had another Turnagain blown hub (Second hub in 3 months). So, the Solo was the only choice and I was happy to race it. The race went fairly well. I finished just a few ticks over 8 hours after cramping really bad in the last sections. I used mainly Scratch lab and upped my sodium a bit. What really amazed me is the Pickle Juice. I started with some light cramping at mile 30. I took a small drink of the juice and they went away. This was ongoing for the next 14 miles until I finally ran out. It seemed to stop the cramping for about 45 minutes. Weird and amazing... I'll give the fat bike a go next year, just to do it. Thanks again.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top