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Recovering Roadie
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, just wanted to introduce myself, to THIS forum in particular since I'm going to be trying out XC racing next season. I'm a roadie who tried 'cross and found it to be a total blast. After looking into it more, I found out about XC so here I am!

Was wondering if you fine folks had any pointers for a newbie such as myself? I'm off shopping for my first XC bike (I know enough to know that a hard-tail type w/ front-suspension is what I'll be needing out here in good ol' Idaho) and thought maybe you all would be kind enough to point me in the right direction? I'm quite excited for the season ahead! Road, cross, XC, and a triathlon. It'll keep me plenty busy!:thumbsup:
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Specific questions

Estrebillo said:
Hi everyone, just wanted to introduce myself, to THIS forum in particular since I'm going to be trying out XC racing next season. I'm a roadie who tried 'cross and found it to be a total blast. After looking into it more, I found out about XC so here I am!

Was wondering if you fine folks had any pointers for a newbie such as myself? I'm off shopping for my first XC bike (I know enough to know that a hard-tail type w/ front-suspension is what I'll be needing out here in good ol' Idaho) and thought maybe you all would be kind enough to point me in the right direction? I'm quite excited for the season ahead! Road, cross, XC, and a triathlon. It'll keep me plenty busy!:thumbsup:
Welcome!

I think I'd advise reading around the boards and them popping out some specific questions. There are TONS of threads realting to newbs getting into racing, but how much of a newb are you? Have you done much road racing? If so, the training principles are similar, you just need to pick up the technical skills on a bike, and work on your peaky power production.

As far as a bike, you will simply open a can of worms that will grow into a 10 headed monster. The FS vs. HT debate will never have an answer. I'll stick with FS 26" or HT 29" forever after a couple failed attemps at 26"HT. Others will tell you the complete opposite. Same with bike brands. You will hear "Test out as many bikes as you can, and then pick the one that fits the best" until you are blue in the face, simply because it's the ONLY true answer. I finally found the bikes I like after owning a dozen and test riding 50 more. Unfortunately, you'll be very unlikely to get it right your first time around.

The key with a bike brand is the fit and the LBS. If you have a shop you love, try out everything they have and buy from them. You don't want to buy some oddball machine, that you have to drive 5 hours to get support from because your LBS doesn't sell the product. All top shelf race bikes are great, and at the end of the day, the bike has very little to do with your placing if they are well maintained.

It's a learning process that takes years, but it's a blast!
 

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Recovering Roadie
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To answer your question there mate, I'm coming off of my first season of both road and cross, but I wasn't terrible by any means. I actually was able to finish mid-pack at bmost of my races.
 

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Have you done much (any?) off road riding? If not, get started ASAP. I started racing last spring, and it was the technical aspect that hurt me in the beginning. When you are not prepared for technical riding, you end up expending a lot more energy than a smooth rider does.

As far as training goes, the same basic rules apply. You will probably be advised to do more interval training to prepare you for the many changes in pace in a mountain bike race.

FS or HT? Have you ridden the terrain that you will race on both types of bikes? If so, then you know what is best for you. First and foremost, train hard, toe the line, and when they say "Go!", pedal like mad.
 

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Recovering Roadie
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've done a good bit of off-road riding with my CX bike and really enjoyed it. I was able to poke around several of the trails in the area and some of which are the race venues. Additionally, my cycling team's coach also said that an HT would be best for me in this area.

I'll admit my technical skills are not as high as they could be, but once things thaw up a bit I'll be out on the trails when I'm not on the tarmac playing LeMond. I really appreciate the help!
 

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used2Bhard said:
I'll stick with FS 26" or HT 29" forever after a couple failed attemps at 26"HT. Others will tell you the complete opposite.
I agree 100%

I have switched to all 29er over the past year, but after racing both 26 and 29" hardtails, I just feel like 26" hardtails are pretty obsolete.

Unless you are a shorter person, or want a super blingy 20lb carbon 26" bike, I highly suggest a 29" HT.

Even though I have a 29" FS for my trail bike, I still find value in 26" full squishers. I can't say the same for HTs.
 

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Just to pull another worm out of the can... I have a 26" hardtail and FS. Horses for courses, on smooth fast stuff and shorter races the hardtail IS faster for my "stand and hammer" riding style. I love the FS for endurance races though and technical riding.
 

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grrrah said:
I agree 100%

I have switched to all 29er over the past year, but after racing both 26 and 29" hardtails, I just feel like 26" hardtails are pretty obsolete.

Unless you are a shorter person, or want a super blingy 20lb carbon 26" bike, I highly suggest a 29" HT.
Since I'm in the market for a race ready HT - after racing as an expert for a few years now, and want to know some more details. Sounds like you (and Matt / Used2bhard) can help here.

Where do you race? What type of terrain? As a pretty good bike handler, why wouldn't I want a 26" Carbon HT - like the Spez Carbon HT? I rode my buddies for a few days, and man! That thing was a rocket. After doing a good bit of CX racing/riding (somehow I'm the state champ in my CAT this year!) a HT seemed downright plush, even a so-called obsolete 26" one. The front end was so stiff, so responsive it was mind boggling. Standing in big gears climbing - even loose stuff- with a little finess seemed surprisingly good. Seems like having a longer cocpit/shorter stem set up to bias weight over the rear half of the bike a bit more than typical (I've been a 120mmm stem guy for a long time - but am evolving) was key.

The one other guy I know who rides/races HT's went from 26" to 29" - and then back to a 26" Stumpy. He is fast and an awesome tech rider. He actually liked the technical climbing prowess of the 29" bike - but not how slow it felt to him on our technical steep climbing intensive races. NM is like CO - huge, epic climbs and hours-long descending.

For me, whichever it ends up being will have gears.

FWIW, in 2005 I tried a season on the HT. In the flatter / faster races - and some STXC ones, it felt great. Everything else was painful. I raced at Snowmass, CO and was in agony on the descents. The Fox FX80 sucked. I hated that fork. The frame was abusive being aluminum, though the fit was good. The difference is that I was racing 25-30 races a year then, and now will maybe race 4-8. And I'll always have the Yeti ASR when needed.

A better fork - like a 80-100 mm 'new SID' or Fox RLT and a carbon chassis seems like it'd be a bit more forgiving, as would be slightly plusher tires than I had sued then.

The biggest evolution is that I have adapted to a brutally fast / stiff Scandium CX bike and feel that a couple of hours on a carbon HT is like a cadillac.

The only cost-effective potential 29'er I've looked at is the Niner Air9 (Reba/Avid XO/XTR build) - and am intrigued, but need to ride some 29" bikes to see what all the Kool-Aid sipping is really about. I'm tempted to go for the 29er just because I know the market on eBay is strong if I need to ditch it later!
 

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Recovering Roadie
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Kris said:
Just to pull another worm out of the can... I have a 26" hardtail and FS. Horses for courses, on smooth fast stuff and shorter races the hardtail IS faster for my "stand and hammer" riding style. I love the FS for endurance races though and technical riding.
That's really good to know actually. I'm more of an Ullrich than an Armstrong so the stand and mash style is definitely what I use most often.
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Glen

glenzx said:
Since I'm in the market for a race ready HT - after racing as an expert for a few years now, and want to know some more details. Sounds like you (and Matt / Used2bhard) can help here.
Glen.... I went through this last year when I sold my ASR-C. I tried to race my ARC for the latter half of the season. (I also tried a Scott Scale 3 years ago at Chalk Creek and noticed a 2.5 minute per lap loss in time than the same race 2 weeks earlier on a heavy FS.)

Note: I ride a fully rigid HT, 29", SS 50% of the time when I am on dirt, so i don't want to hear the usual, you aren't used to a HT, or you aren't conditioned enough in the core....blah...blah....blah crap from the peanut gallery.

Here are my experiences this year...
At first, I noticed I could climb faster and my descending was faster as well. The FS soaked up the bumps by stealing forward momentum and stuffing it into the shock. I set PR's on every timed loop I have. It was obviously a no-brainer to race it then, right? Next I took it on some long rides. I did a 7.5 hour epic on rough, nasty, rocky, rooty sections of the Colorado Trail. I wasn't fatigued and felt great. No problem...FS is dead...I'm a HT guy now for sure!

Then came the races. I raced the bike 5 times and was shocked. I got my butt kicked by the bike every time.
1) On a training ride I felt no compulsion to pedal over roots and rocks in flat sections. I'd just stand bounce over them and resume pedaling. In a race, it's a totally different story. you try and pedal everywhere! This constant jarring from trying to stay in the saddle while gettin bucked took it's toll.
2) On training rides, and on the SS I stand and hammer up alot of climbs. On the HT during a race, my body was tired from standing up ever so slightly over every rock and root, that when the time came to really stand and crank, I just wanted to sit and spin.
3) On fast choppy road sections, I repeatedly got passed by guys who would sit and spin on their FS. I had to stand through areas where I would have been hammering the 44. Glen, I remember you making that same comment to me 3 years ago in reagrds to your 3rd place at Chalk Creek. You said you were hammering past those that couldn't pedal 100% of the time on the fenceline and cobbley sections. I found that same problem at 3 Winter Park Races, The CO state champs at Sol Vista, and one enduro.
4) In every one of my races I ended up with an intolerable pain in my kidney/diaphragm area towards the end of the race. The constant jarring eventually killed me. Remember I didn't have this in a 7.5 hour rocky ride, yet in a 2.5 hour XC race I was in agony every time! I don't know if it's the combo of the hard breathing, or the before mentioned attempt to sit and pedal more of the time. I ran the bike with a 100mm Fork and a 2.25 rear tire at 26lbs of pressure, so I had all the artifical suspension I could get. The last race, the pain was so bad, I lost focus 1/4 mile from the finish and caught my pedal on a root at 25+ mph. 6 months later my ligaments are still hosed in my thumb, my rotator cuff is hosed, and I have bone spurs in my hip. Needless to say that was my last race on a 26" HT. My worst race results ever came on that bike!

I built my Alloy ASR back up, and a month later raced it for 21 hours with no pain...It's a beautful thing!

I still ride my rigid SS and love it. I also have raced that bike. The combo of the 29" wheels and the steel makes a huge difference. Even with the rigid fork I can ride that thing hard for hours and not have any of the above problems. No pain...I can pedal on rough fireroads/flats...etc. World of difference!
I will likely throw gears and a suspension fork on my Niner a couple times again this year....possibly for Leadville. A 29" HT rocks!
Matt
 

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used2Bhard said:
I remember you making that same comment to me 3 years ago in reagrds to your 3rd place at Chalk Creek. You said you were hammering past those that couldn't pedal 100% of the time on the fenceline and cobbley sections.
Hmmmm. You have me there - and likely a bunch of other times too, if one were to look! Maybe it's some kind of selective memory - not sure. The same comment applies to a few places that - on paper - might look ike a HT friendly course. Like parts of McDowell Mtn. Park in PHX. On that Alum. Stumpy HT - during a 8-9 minute dirt TT effort - I was wrecked! There was a baby head minefield about 1/4 of a mile long that I have raced over (literally) dozens of times in the past. When I 'raced' the HT through it it was nuts! It was the most jarring awful ride ever.

Just re-enforces your excellent point(s).

I asked back at you as I know you went through a lot with many different bikes over these last few years.

used2Bhard said:
I ended up with an intolerable pain in my kidney/diaphragm area towards the end of the race. The constant jarring eventually killed me.
I've had that on all sort of bikes - and its related to rider position mainly. Ironically, the more "aero" or lower down I get - the less of the azz-hammering seems to transmit / jackhammer my 'gut'. More upright and 'comfortable' seems to put your body more perpendicular to the jackhammering - making it worse.

At least thats my theory! Whatever causes it blows - as it sucks the life right out of you.

Not to worry - I'd not replace the Yeti - only add 1 bike (back) to the collection. Maybe the CX thing doesn't relate quite the same - but I can hammer that bike for 1-3 hours racing/riding and feel as good as you can after those efforts....

I think the most telling experience you note is that at race pace - you need to pedal - hard - all the time, or as much as possible. Seems like a HT would be more work when, again as you note, you stand/unweight the seat slightly to reduce impact, but tax those legs yet more.

Maybe a new HT would be more for riding, and the Yeti continue to be the main race rig! The 29" thing is a question, and if I was really lucky, I could find one to try a race on early in the season here. I must say the Niner Air9 with a decent build for about $3k (Colorado Cyclist) is enticing. :D

I do wish more carbon race-ready 29" frames would start appearing, dangit. Something about the GF Superfly bugs me...

But awesome feedback - and maybe that 09 Specialized Carbon (Expert - 26") Stumpy HT teasing me can wait a bit longer.

Or maybe (re)blinging the ASR with that $3k would be better
(drivetrain, new wheel build) ;).
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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glenzx said:
Hmmmm. You have me there - and likely a bunch of other times too, if one were to look! Maybe it's some kind of selective memory - not sure. The same comment applies to a few places that - on paper - might look ike a HT friendly course. Like parts of McDowell Mtn. Park in PHX. On that Alum. Stumpy HT - during a 8-9 minute dirt TT effort - I was wrecked! There was a baby head minefield about 1/4 of a mile long that I have raced over (literally) dozens of times in the past. When I 'raced' the HT through it it was nuts! It was the most jarring awful ride ever.

I've had that on all sort of bikes - and its related to rider position mainly. Ironically, the more "aero" or lower down I get - the less of the azz-hammering seems to transmit / jackhammer my 'gut'. More upright and 'comfortable' seems to put your body more perpendicular to the jackhammering - making it worse.

At least thats my theory! Whatever causes it blows - as it sucks the life right out of you.

Maybe a new HT would be more for riding, and the Yeti continue to be the main race rig! The 29" thing is a question, and if I was really lucky, I could find one to try a race on early in the season here. I must say the Niner Air9 with a decent build for about $3k (Colorado Cyclist) is enticing. :D

I do wish more carbon race-ready 29" frames would start appearing, dangit. Something about the GF Superfly bugs me...QUOTE]

The fit was identical between the bikes, so maybe on the HT I was "hunched over" as I was standing up a million times over every little cobble and root? One difference I see between the SS and ARC was that once I am standing I can do it all day. It's the action of standing up from the seated position that is so taxing. Maybe that's why I don't feel it on the Niner, Is I have to stand up much less as the big wheels just plow over everything.

In regards to the Cross Bike, I can ride mine all day too with no pain...it's just not the same...

The only adavantage I see to the 26" HT over the 29" HT is long, extended, smooth climbs. From your description of what you would use to for, I'd say pick up a used Niner, and use it as a fun/commuting/short track type bike, and keep the ASR for the mountain courses. I've seen nice Niners on craigs list around here for $1500.

Your comments about the number of bikes is too true...in fact embarrasing. I have made money on every bike sale though, so I didn't blow a fortune in my "education" In the past few years I have raced:

26" HT
Scott Scale 20
Fisher Zig
Yeti ARC

29" HT
Fisher Rig
Fisher Paragon
Orbea Alma (briefly)
Niner SIR9

26" FS
1 x ASR-sl
2 x ASR-SLc
1 x ASR-C
575
'Dale Scalpel
'Dale Rush
Giant Anthem
Specialized Epic
 

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used2Bhard said:
Your comments about the number of bikes is too true...in fact embarrasing. I have made money on every bike sale though, so I didn't blow a fortune in my "education" In the past few years I have raced:

26" HT
Scott Scale 20
Fisher Zig
Yeti ARC

29" HT
Fisher Rig
Fisher Paragon
Orbea Alma (briefly)
Niner SIR9

26" FS
1 x ASR-sl
2 x ASR-SLc
1 x ASR-C
575
'Dale Scalpel
'Dale Rush
Giant Anthem
Specialized Epic
How was the Orbea Alma (carbon?)?
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Amazing

glenzx said:
How was the Orbea Alma (carbon?)?
Only had it for a three weeks as a loaner bike, but it was an amazing bike. I did some of the local short tracks on it. It accelerated like a rocket (for 29" wheels anyhoo) compared to the metal niners I have been on due to the increased stiffness. Of course that means it was less foregiving in the rough, but 2.25's tubeless with 25psi, took care of that easily!

I really like the Orbea products. I would have bought a Oiz a few years ago, but the rear chainstays stick out too far for my pronated pedal stroke. My heels whacked on every revolution...
 
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