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Skinny tires just don’t compare…

February 23, 2009

say-no-to-road-racingAfter a 15 month hiatus from road racing, I returned to skinny tires, a lightweight carbon frame bike, and some smooth roads of central Texas to test my meddle with the roadies. True roadies are a different breed of cyclist compared to mountain bikers. I’ve done enough racing in both to know which sport and people are better, and if you know me, I don’t even have to say which one it is.  Roadies, and more specifically-but not limited to- lower category riders such as Cat4’s and 5’s, give me several reasons not to like the sport:

  1. they always like to make excuses why they didn’t do so well
  2. Sometimes they have a legitimate excuse because some moron next to or in front of them doesn’t know how to a) hold their line in a turn b) hold their line in a straightaway c) shift gears without dropping a chain d) not lock up their wheels when they get too close to the person in front of them e) get a drink of water without drifting in to anyone f) keep their calm when there is a little shoulder to shoulder or wheel to wheel contact, which happens because of all the above, and said rider initiates a crash that takes out anyone within a 20 foot radius
  3. Roadies don’t share the pre-race activities and team camaraderie that mountain bikers do like camping out, having dinner together, drinking beer, etc.
  4. In fact, roadies always opt for a hotel and all the creature comforts they can take, even given an option to camp at the race site
  5. Road racing is definitely a team sport. It’s one thing that I hardly ever have teammates that do road racing, but it is another to have your success depend on others. In this respect, road racing gets overly tactical and more like a game of Risk than a fun race.
  6. everyone wants to win, not everyone wants to work for it. In mountain biking, you have to work the entire race if you want the win. There is no wheelsucking or chillin in the pack.
  7. Colleen brought this up after the Sunday race, but roadies like to sit around after a race and super analyze the thing and what went wrong and share their excuses with each other. A mountain biker would be like “yeah, i just got it handed to me today, but I had a great time!” and sip on a beer whilst enjoying friendly conversation with another knobby tire friend
  8. Roadies in general feel that spending more money on their bikes will give them an edge. A wheelset that is .4 lbs lighter is a non issue if you have 10 lbs of fat hanging over your bike shorts
  9. One of the stronger sentiments, in my observation, is that roadies are usually more stuck up, more self centered, less patient, and less courteous folks. They take the competition WAY too seriously. We saw guys driving up in Porsches and BMW’s honking and yelling at riders to get out of the way in the parking area so they could find a place to park. What a lovely way to treat your fellow cyclist.
  10. many many more reasons i dont have time to explain

I’ll take a race involving a 25 lb hunk of alloy with 2.2″ tires, a flat handlebar, and a suspension fork any day over a featherweight machine with curvy bars and tires with less width than my thumbs. The racing this weekend did nothing more to reinforce that mentality. Heading into Saturday’s race. my “road form”  was admittedly rusty, and my nerve not quite what it used to be, but I felt I was in good shape and could get me a few top 10’s for the weekend. Not even close. If you don’t have the skills and confidence to race mountain bikes and are perfectly happy sitting in the pack, I suggest you check out this article from  Bike Snob NYC on how to race Pass/fail. Excellent reading!

Saturday- Walburg Road Race

  • Started the 48 mile course with light rain, a slight chill, and no wind. No problem I thought to myself
  • Rain dried off, things were going smooth. As we took the right turn off 487 onto a county road (see map), the leaders launched one of the most ferocious attacks I’d ever seen in a Cat 4 race. I struggled the entire section to try to pull up to the pack.  Meanwhile the rest of the field was being absolutely decimated. We probably started with 65 riders. it looked to be 15 in the front, about 8 loose riders between me and them, and everyone else fighting for dear life behind me
  • another right turn onto the main road and out of nowhere we were faced with one hell of a headwind. The front pack continued to push.
  • I pulled up to one looser rider at a time and we eventually got a group going to begin the chase
  • Despite the lead group’s slow pace, the wind was really hampering the chase group’s effort to bridge. I knew if we didn’t catch them that the race was over, so I pulled HARD. The effort got us to the tail end of the group, but I was spent and fell off the back.
  • Keeping the pack in sight kept my hopes alive, but heavy wind worked to break me of that hope.
  • Small groups would catch me and I stayed on as long as I could until finally I cracked. The constant 20-30 mph winds broke my spirit, my body,  and the will to go on. I had bonked, and the only thing keeping me going was the desire to get back to my car and get some energy back in the system. I was completely demoralized and not looking forward to the race on sunday.

Sunday- Pace Bend Road Race

  • Colleen and I got the incorrect start time of 8am for a 10am race from last year’s flyer so we get there 2 hours too early that could’ve been spent sleeping in. oh well. better early than late.
  • bigger field, more aggressive riders, higher pace-NO WIND today. The course had several short hills and spots with fast acceleration, something that favored my strengths
  • I wanted to be up front attacking like crazy, but the legs weren’t feeling so hot from the day before, so I was content in the pack
  • even with a full rolling enclosure (full width of the road), I still found it difficult and/or dangerous to move up in the pack when I wanted. That’s no excuse for poor position, it was just frustrating though.
  • things were looking good as I was still with the pack on the final miles of the last lap until a crash with about 1k to go tangled me up. i did not go down, but came to a standstill and got detached from the pack. by the time i caught back up, the 200m sprint had commenced, but having just done a 700m sprint I didn’t have much left in my tank, so another disappointing finish.

That’s road racing, and right now, methinks road racing isn’t all that fun, so I will keep a focus on mountain biking until further notice. The next race is this weekend at St. Jo in north Texas, one of my favorite courses. Thanks for reading.
Greg

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