NOTE: re-posted from my personal blog. Yeah, I’m too lazy to write new content. There, I said it.
As cyclocross season was winding down last year, and I felt myself on the verge of having racing withdrawls, I decided that it would be a good idea to get into mountain biking. I figured it would be great on multiple fronts: I’d get to stay in shape by racing, I could work on my technical skillz (or lack thereof) for next ‘cross season, and obviously I’d need a new bike. Funny how the possibility of a new bike can sometimes make any bike-related activity more appealing. (Radball, anyone??)
The multi-talented (not to mention deadly-handsome) Geoff of Baron Bicycle fame provided the bike, and the rest was history. Here she is (I think it’s a she), in all her glory:
If you’re interested in the bike nerd stats, read on:
- True Temper OX Platinum tubing
- Eccentric BB, should I ever become masochistic enough to run it as a SS
- Reba XX fork
- Chris King bits (BB, headset, hubs)
- SRAM X.9 drivetrain
- Stan’s ZTR Crest tubeless rims with Maxxis Ardent 2.25″ tires
It’s a much fancier bike than I originally intended, as I was going to get a frame from Geoff and build it up with various bits I would scrounge up. As it turns out, Geoff sold me his bike all built up, since he got a job as a product designer for Santa Cruz. I guess he thinks they’re going to give him a bike or 5 when he starts working there. As it stands now, the bike is way better than I am, and I’ve received a ton of compliments on it already (all while standing still, since no one in their right mind would compliment my MTBing if they saw me in motion).
I’ve been out to some of the more popular MTB spots near Seattle (Duthie Hill, the Tapeworm trails, North/South Sea-Tac, etc.) and I’ve been having a blast. I haven’t been on an honest-to-gawd MTB since I was a teen, riding my sweet old rigid Trek Singletrack something-or-other up and over the garbage-strewn trails on Beacon Hill in Spokane with my friends.
Sunday morning brought me my first chance to try MTB racing. The West Side MTB Series was holding it’s second race of the season out in Black Diamond, and I thought I’d go check it out. While I’ve been doing “the cyclocross” for over 2 years now, I didn’t really know what to expect out of a MTB race. Since ‘cross is my reference point, I’ll just break down how I thought it differed:
- Length: This race was 2 laps on a mostly singletrack curcuit through the woods. My finish time was somewhere around and hour and 20 minutes. I’ve never raced cross for more than an hour, and I was definitely noticing the extra time towards the end.
- Technical difficulty: I’d heard that this was the twistiest, tightest, most technical course in the series, and I believed them. It was probably 95% singletrack, and most of that was filed with sharp turns, roots, rocks, logs, and the like. My poor bike-handling skills definitely got a workout over that hour. Should help me for next ‘cross season.
- Spectators: Since it’s a huge loop in the woods, as opposed to a compact circuit in a park, there’s less opportunity for spectating. Most of the spectators were at the start/finish, and the sound of cowbells in my ears was replaced with the sound of my own huffing and puffing. Most of the race was eerily quiet in fact.
- Post-race soreness: This race kicked my ass. And my shoulders. And my wrists. And my back. Cross always made me feel exhausted, and sore here and there, but I got WORKED on Sunday. I’m still trying to figure it out.
Overall I had a great time, and I finished pretty well (8th in my category out of about 25-30) and I’d love to get out to some more races this season. The only obstacle to my burgeoning MTB racing career is the fact that I want to ensure that I don’t injure myself before PBP. I don’t want to screw up my chances for a once-in-a-lifetime ride by thinking that I’ve got dirt skillz.