Epic 8-hour @ Hardwood -- First time
Looking for ANY advice or even anecdotal info/experience regarding the Epic 8-hour at Hardwood. I have only ridden Hardwood once before casually and was relatively easy technically while demanding physically given the many uphills (I currently ride mostly Don trail). I will be trying to get a few more rides in there before the race day (August).
Background to help guide any advice for me as a first timer:
1) age/experience? 43 years old and team will be 2-4 people (still working that out). I have NIL bike race experience.
2) bike? 2011 stumpy fsr 26er with 140mm travel front/rear. i know it's too much bike for this purpose, but how bad will it be? Are there any ways to offset the unnecessary travel excess, such as running high fork air pressure or locking out front fork, etc? or is it so bad that it'd be better to just use a different bike, and if so, any recos?
3) tires? still using stock Purgatory front and The Captain Control in rear. Should I be switching either or both out for something else better suited to Hardwood? I'm not familiar enough with Hardwood -- any tire recos, or fine as is?
4) hydration pack? not planning to use one because we're planning to take turns after each lap, so I'm assuming I can do the 10km loop without needing water until resting after each lap.
5) ability? I'm assuming it's more flow than technical, but correct me if I'm wrong. I'm "hoping" to include my 12-year old son on the team (Is there a minimum age requirement? Will have to check that still).
6) repairs? I'm assuming the mechanical breakdowns are usually limited to flat tires rather than broken derailleurs, but again, correct me if I'm wrong as am currently not planning on bringing more than basic tools and tubes.
7) backpack? tied to #6 above, I am intending to ride the laps with my backpack/knapsack since it carries my tools, etc. or is it better to just tape such to the bike?
8) nutrition? what food(s) [as in real food] to ingest through the 8-hour day? Please don't say energy bars, lol.
Appreciate any feedback.
A2) Bike is fine, lots of people use trail bikes. I prefer more plush so don't lock out the front and rear. You could turn on platform damping on the rear shock if it is available.
A3) I just run all-rounders tires like Panaracer FireXCs. Some people prefer lighter tires which are less knobby to reduce rolling resistance.
A4) User preference. Some riders do not like carrying weight on their bikes, but a pack makes it easier to drink out of while riding.
A5) Yep you should be able to include your son. There are various categories for each team. E.g. sum of total ages for everyone in 4 person group being less than 140 years, 180 years, etc...
A6) Basic tools are fine, maybe bring an extra derailleur hanger.
A7) I prefer tools in backpack, but a lot of the more serious racers just tape an inner tube and co2 inflater to their seatpost. They carry a multitool in their jersey.
A8) Pretty much anything you like. I like bananas, salty food like chips.
Don't worry too much about equipment (e.g. bike, tires), just go out and have fun!! :-)
Originally Posted by sillymonkey
Best advice here. Just have fun. At an 8 hour you'll see people with every configuration of bike and gear. I wouldn't spend much time worrying about it. Just run whatcha got, it will be more than suitable.
More specific comments.
1) Hydration...if the temp is in the low 20's or below, I can see getting away without water. If it's 25 or above (which is most likely will be) I would recommend bringing water on the laps with you (small hydration pack with tube, tool). You may not need water on that lap specifically, but you need water throughout the day. Not drinking on a lap means you will need to make up for it between laps. You are just putting yourself in a bigger deficit. These have the potential to add up each lap. If you aren't careful, you could be hurting by the end of the day.
2) Food. Bring things you like. You may not feel like eating, especially right after a lap, but you pretty much need to, so desirable things are key. People generally crave salty things. I personally like a pasta salad with feta cheese, olives, a few vegetables or potato salad. Finish a lap, have a small bowl, relax. Don't over eat! Also have small things around to top up your sugars that you can snack on. A lot of people drink coke between laps. I love it!
Definitely don't fuss too much over equipment. It's supposed to just be a fun day riding with friends and/or family (unless you're in the top 5 or so... ).
Since its such a short/simple loop, I don't take any water or food with me on single laps (soloing is a different story) but I eat and hydrate IMMEDIATELY after I hand over the baton.
My favourite 8-hour food is perogies but I only got there after a lot of experimentation.
Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.
Equipment - whatever you're comfortable riding. Don't make the mistake of bringing a bike you built up at 2am the night before.
As far as nutrition goes, it's highly personal. Here's an old thread that talked about it a lot.
For a 24-solo, one of the things I ended up liking most was cold thin-crust margarita pizza, but that might not go down so well for the hard, short efforts of a team 8-hour. Ditto with boiled potatoes. I like the perogies for the 8 hour, but some people find they're too heavy.
An 8-hour is a great first race. Huge mix of people; relaxed atmosphere. Have fun!
+1 - have fun! Very few people take the 8-hours super-seriously. It's just an excuse to hang out with friends and do a bit of riding. It's a good introduction to racing but the vibe is generally laid back (with the exception of the inevitable few d-bags who take competition too seriously and are ridiculed by everyone)
1. Re level of experience - don't sweat it. You'll be fine! By the time of the second or third lap the field is pretty spread out and you are just out for a ride at whatever pace is comfortable to you. My recommendation is not to have your 12 y/o son do the first lap as things can be a bit hairy off the start and that may be a bit much. If there is anyone on your team with racing experience, have them do lap no. 1 as they will better know what to expect. If everyone is on their first race, you might want to start towards the back half of the field in the start chute, which is where all us weekend warriors like to hang out.
2. I have done a few solo 8 hours and so have spent all day on the trail on these things, and have had every sort of bike pass me from high-end carbon fibre race rigs to Supercycles. I have also seen a ton of trailbikes. For your first race, the best thing you can do is ride the bike you are most comfortable on, which would in this case presumably be your stumpy.
3. It's hard to comment on what sort of tires you should ride, because it depends on the conditions that day - ie if it is wet, a different tire will work well than if it is dry. Hardwood, however, is very sandy and drains quickly so if you are going to try and pick a condition specific tire (which is not really necessary IMHO) go with a good all-rounder. I like Schwalbe Racing Ralphs and they have never done me wrong.
4. I personally have a bottle in a cage rather than a hydration pack, and my tube and co2 taped to the seat post. That works for me. I agree with CptSydor that you have to keep drinking through the day if it is hot so take whatever will keep you drinking. Grabbing a bottle and drinking in the middle of the trail is a skill that is worth learning, and there are plenty of flat straight spots to drink at Hardwood, but again, you won't be the only rider with a camelbak, so don't sweat it.
5. Definitely more flow that technical. There may be a couple of tough climbs. In past years the 8 hour course has gone into the conservation area next door to Hardwood, and that is just a tad more tricky than the trails proper. The course will propbably be marked a week or 2 in advance and pre-riding is always a good thing to do. If a faster rider comes up on you, they will probably ask to get by rather than just pass, by saying something like "when you get a chance, please". IMHO good etiquette is that you let them past, BUT ONLY WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO. I don't expect riders to actually stop and pull their bikes off the trail so I can pass, and feel bad when people do this. Just move over when you feel comfortable. If the rider behind you is one of said d-bags, just let em by and try not to let their attitude ruin your day.
6. There are marshalls every couple of km. I generally take a tire lever, tube, CO2 and a multi-tool. I wouldn't bother lugging a heavy backpack around the course. You're only going to be out there for 30-45 mins at a time
7. See 6. It's good to have a floor pump and maybe a repair stand in your pit area. Bring lube so you can touch up your chain if it is dusty.
8. I tend not to eat lunch per se at 8 hours and 24 hours. I just eat a little bit all day to keep myself topped up. Pasta salad is good because you can make it in advance and just munch on it as needed. I also like bananas, oranges cut into wedges, PBandJ's. Bring a cooler, to keep the post race beers cold, and bring extra water in case it is a hot day, or one of your team-mates drops a bottle on the trail.
Other things to keep in mind - be prepared to be outside all day. A canopy or tent is good to keep you out of the sun and rain. Lawn chairs are a must. Maybe an Ipod and dock for pit area tunes.
Please post here after the race and let us know how it went.
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