Results 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440

    6 day mountain stage-race. Hardtail vs Full suss, advice and experience please!

    Hello All

    I've signed up for the Andalucia stage race next Feb. 6 days of racing in the Spanish mountains, with 6000-7000 ft of climbing each day. You ride it as a pair, finishing each stage together. My team-mate is quicker than me both uphill and downhill

    So, do I take the Scott Scale 29er I already have to minimise the deficit on the climbs and fireroad linking sections, or splash out on a full suss bike (Turner Czar most likely option) to keep him in sight on the downhills and maximise my recovery between days leaving me hopefully fresher for the climbs of days 2-6.

    I'm 41, it's my first multi-day race, so I know it is going to hurt any which and every way. I've heard that most people do the race on weightweenie hardtails.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,703
    That race has little actual "trail" in it correct? If so, and with that much climbing... I'd think about using the HT.

    Plus, if you own the HT... you're comfortable on it and have your position dialed in. I wouldn't go changing everything around two months away from the race date unless you can get a LOT of riding in on the new bike.

  3. #3
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440
    I don't know how chunky or otherwise the trails are...it looks from the video's like there's a fair amount of rocky stuff, but I guess they would only show the good bits! If it is mostly smooth stuff then I'll definitely take the HT.

    I take your point about sticking with what I know. That said, I'm packing a lot of training into the next 10 weeks so whichever bike I take will have had a lot of ride time.

    I guess I ought to see if I can find out a bit more about the terrain.
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    39
    Being an older guy and having done some stage races, unless it is mostly fireroads, the full squish will definitely be easier on your body, especially by day 6. Also, if you are chasing your partner uphill, you will be pretty punched when you hit the descent, and you will probably want a bike that will soften your descending errors instead of punishing them for you. The Turner Czar won't really give anything up to a hardtail other than a bit of weight, and will make up descending time. You will also have more fun on the Czar.

  5. #5
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440
    Quote Originally Posted by slipstream View Post
    You will also have more fun on the Czar.
    Yeah, and for the rest of the season too

    I've been looking at clips of last year's race. There does seem to be a lot of smoother tracks linking up sections, but some of the winning pro teams were riding full suss (Merida...they probably could have won on anything though). I'm looking to do my best. I'm no way as smooth a rider as my team mate. The Czar will have about 2.8lb on my Scale 910 frame (once taking seatpost and bottom bracket differences into consideration). 2.8lb difference will count on the ups, but as you say I won't be punished so much on the descents. A tough call. But I'm pretty sure I know which bike I'd want to be riding if I was riding solo and not trying to minimise my team mate having to hold back for me.
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    4,450
    A bit repetitive, since I posted similar thoughts on the Turner forum, but the Czar will let you gain so much more recovery on the downhills and/or rougher sections, I'd go that route.

    Also, what are your goals? Are you guys in it to win it (or podium)? If not, and enjoying the experience is important, you're going to have a lot more fun on the FS bike.

    But all this assumes significant single track. If it's mostly fire roads and super smooth trail (videos aren't always true to the entire course experience -- they are trying to attract riders), stick with the hard tail.
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  7. #7
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440
    We aim to finish fairly well, but the podium is not going to be realistic!

    My goals are simply to ride as hard as I can, so I match my team-mate as close as I can (LBS owner and very accomplished rider who will probably take a hardtail). He asked me to ride when the person who would have done it with him (one of the UK's top xc vets) was unable to make it. So, I'm second choice...don't have a problem with that, but I do want to do as well as I can.

    So, bearing in mind the unknowables of the course I'm wondering if the better thing to do is minimise my deficit on the climb, or try and better manage fatigue overall. I'd love to get a Czar, but if the HT will be quicker then that's what I should take I guess!
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    4,450
    I hadn't thought much about the team aspect, but there may be some credence to the idea of riding a similar bike to what your team mate is bringing. More food for thought.

    It always kills me -- in a good way -- how much time and prep we all put in to these endurance races. For me, it is always far more than I actually spend on the course itself!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  9. #9
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440
    Yep, I reckon choosing the bike is about as stressful and effortful as racing it for 6 days!

    Got a four hour race this Sunday on the hard tail. Gives me a chance to give it some in-the-saddle-racing thinking time!
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    11,333
    Quote Originally Posted by swan lee View Post
    each stage together. My team-mate is quicker than me both uphill and downhill

    So, do I take the Scott Scale 29er I already have to minimise the deficit on the climbs and fireroad linking sections, or splash out on a full suss bike (Turner Czar most likely option) to keep him in sight on the downhills

    I'm 41, it's my first multi-day race, so I know it is going to hurt any which and every way. I've heard that most people do the race on weightweenie hardtails.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
    First of all the downhill sections will only occupy a small amount of time...overall. So keeping up on the uphills is the most important aspect....

    On the Trans Rockies a hard tail is the better bike for the linking sections and the climbs...BUT...

    The full suspension will ease a lot of the wear and tear and is therefore often the faster bike after day 2.....

    Most importantly the bike has to fit properly.

    I was the fast guy in our pairing....the long wait at the top of the climbs was the most frustrating aspect....however the doing of it was far more important than the racing of it.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by swan lee View Post
    Yep, I reckon choosing the bike is about as stressful and effortful as racing it for 6 days!

    Got a four hour race this Sunday on the hard tail. Gives me a chance to give it some in-the-saddle-racing thinking time!
    Do the four-hour race on the hardtail, like you said. And afterwards, try to imagine how your hands, lower back, and shoulders (not to mention, your butt) will feel after 5 more days of hard riding. Fatigue is cumulative. Especially with your hands. If your hands hurt you can't control the bike. This is probably the biggest difference I've felt between using a hardtail versus a fully at a long stage race (I have three TransPortugals under my belt, amongst many others).

    Unless you are in it to win it, I wouldn't recommend a hardtail for a stage race. Even Jeremiah Bishop thinks so: JB's Go Big or Go Bigger: I will not ride hardtail at Pisgah! - VeloNews.com

    If you can swing the Czar, go for it. It climbs well enough, and it's descending capabilities as well as it's fatigue-lessening qualities (you can stay in the saddle for longer periods of time without being beaten up) offset any weight penalty.

    Two other things are important:
    One, run the lightest, MOST RELIABLE wheel/tyre combo you can. Light is good, but only as far as a blown up wheel or torn sidewall will take you.

    Two, use the smallest front chainring you can, most likely a 22T. This will save your legs. Use a fast cadence climbing style, and your legs will have a better chance to recover. You might be able to get away with a 24T, but if you run anything larger you risk the chance of your legs snapping, from which there is no recovery. You'll climb slower and slower, trying to push a big gear.

    Optional: Run a Dropper Post. They are worth their weight in gold. Because it's static weight, it will have very little impact on performance, no more than a full water bottle or seat bag with tube, co2 cartridges, and multi-tool (put all that in your camelbak). You can set your seat height for optimum position for climbing and the flats while being able to drop it on the fly on the descents and any technical situations that may arise. The Rock Shox Reverb and KS LEV are the best dropper posts on the market at this time (I like the LEV myself).

    One more word of advice, as it's your first Stage Race: Race the Course. If you get to bang elbows with your fellow competitors for the finish line on each day, that's gravy. Treat it as an adventure and you'll have an awesome time and lots of stories to tell.

    I've checked the race out- it from the profiles and videos, it looks like a fun time. I'm trying to go to a stage race in Guatemala around the same time- long steep climbs, and equally long steep downhills. FWIW, I will be taking my 140mm f/r Giant Trance 27.5 to that race, with the dropper post. It weighs 25.5 lbs. I could take my 21lb hardtail (no dropper post), or even the 23lb short travel fully (with dropper post), but I'll have the most fun at this one with the "big" bike, because the downhills are that good. But if I was going to Andulucia, I would take the short travel fully.

  12. #12
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440
    Jeff and kitsuma, thanks for your time and advice.

    I'd thought less about how full suss will help hands/arms/shoulders as well as core and legs. It is a very valid consideration for me...in 12 hour races I start getting problems between my shoulder blades.

    Talked to my team mate (who is local bike shop owner), and we considered the Scott spark 900rc frame. A pound less than the Turner and just a full water bottle of weight difference from the Scale frame. With a lockout. Could be a good option, with the best of both worlds. As said, I give the hard tail a blast this Sunday and see if it helps me make up my mind.

    Not a bad problem to have really, and as some have said above, it is important I focus on enjoying this race and the build up to it :-)
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    4,450
    OK, sounds like you're close, so having a little good-natured fun here....................

    From what I've read about this course, if you had to carry an extra pound, I think you'd find a one pound bag of peanut M&Ms more useful than a dropper post.

    Back to potentially useful input:

    I have my Czar set up with dual remote CTD fork/shock, and for racing, I wouldn't have it any other way. I originally did this to get back in the game ASAP after a major hand injury, and I like it, and use it, far more than I ever would have guessed.
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    67
    kosmo- Don't hate the droppah! But I like M&Ms too Droppers are largely a personal choice, but I've found I use mine a lot more often than I thought I would.

    swan lee- You're welcome, glad to be of help Let us know how your 4-hour race went, always good to hear another perspective. The Scott Spark is a good option for you; it should fit you the same as your Scale with, like you said, only a modest weight penalty. A bonus is that the 2014 models come with Fox rear shocks, a big improvement from the older DT Swiss-made ones. It should ride just like your Scale but with the squish.

    One other thing, when I was referring to small chainrings in my previous post, I was speaking within a 2x or 3x setup. I don't think I was clear in that regard. I don't think a 1x setup (even xx1) gives you the gear range necessary for a stage race. You end up geared either too high or too low.

  15. #15
    Daniel the Dog
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    6,588
    One discussion I find intriguing is the fact HTs keep you in a very good pedaling position. No sag or other impact on your pedaling. That said, a FS bike allows you to pedal through rough ground while you would be absorbing hits to your butt on a HT. The HT also reacts better when pedaling out of the saddle. This is a very old debate/discussion that is not black or white. It is really what the rider likes better.

    I ride a FS bike because they are more fun for me. The weight difference is the least of the factors for me. I also don't think there is a super brand of bike that is heads and tails better than others. I am currently on a Tallboy because I got a deal on it. I was on a Jet 9 RDO. They all work awesome but you have to find a brand that fits you well and feels right under your butt. All the carbon bikes are made on the Pacific Rim.

  16. #16
    zrm
    zrm is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    4,667
    Quote Originally Posted by kitsuma View Post
    kosmo- Don't hate the droppah! But I like M&Ms too Droppers are largely a personal choice, but I've found I use mine a lot more often than I thought I would.
    .
    I've found I use my dropper a lot less than I thought I would. I'm thinking I'll replace it with a good light standard post and save the dropper for trips to canyon country with big ledge drop and steep roll overs. For stuff like that it's very useful. For general rock and root infested single track or jeep road type riding that is more typical of race courses, IMO a dropper is dead weight. Plus, it's a moving part(s) with hydraulics/pneumatics, cables, levers, etc so you have one more thing to fiddle with/maintain or break.

  17. #17
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440

    Decision pretty much made!

    Let us know how your 4-hour race went, always good to hear another perspective.
    Quite brutal! I hadn't fully recovered from illness, and with only base miles in my legs an average heartrate of 170 wasn't appreciated! Not enough tempo riding in me so I blew at 3.5 hours...I probably could have gone for another lap but by that time I was pretty cold as well (it started raining 2 hours in), and I figured I'd do more harm than good. I would have got a respectable result even if I'd just crawled round that last lap, but the way I was coughing I let common sense prevail..... It was a good marker for me, and now I start doing more tempo and intervals in my training so sustaining a high HR and a better anaerobic threshold should get easier.

    The main thing for me is that it pretty much made my mind up that full suss will be the way forward for me. My legs feel okay today, but my back and shoulders aren't so good. So while I could put power through the pedals, upper body fatigue would be a limiter.

    Jaybo, I'm more of a sit and spin climber, so that would suit the Spark more. Re fit, I know Scott works for me. I had my heart set on a Turner ideally, but I've always be a bit 'in between' sizes on Turners so I'm probably better off sticking with that which requires little adjustment to position, as kitsuma suggests...especially as it is only 2 months until the race.

    Thanks for all your input everyone, I've really appreciated it.
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    4,450
    If you were previously between sizes on Turners, you are perfect for the larger of the two when it comes to the Czar.

    Good call on quitting. Unless it's a major focus of your racing year, coughing while actually racing is a bad thing. This should let you fully recover for a week, spend the next several weeks attaining a monster peak, then taper just prior to the event.

    Best advice I ever received when I started this silly endurance racing stuff: The week before the event is too late to gain any fitness, but allows plenty of time to accumulate fatigue!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  19. #19
    Wicketed
    Reputation: swan lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    440
    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    If you were previously between sizes on Turners, you are perfect for the larger of the two when it comes to the Czar.
    Good to know.

    Quitting was okay, I told myself to treat it as a training ride if I could get control of my race-head! I don't like to DNF, but my body was giving me lots of hints all was not well, so I went with the consensus of opinion: throat and sinuses over-ruled race ego!
    'I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like. It's got a basket, a bell that rings, and things to make it look good' - Syd B

  20. #20
    Category Winner
    Reputation: teamdicky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,701
    Quote Originally Posted by kitsuma View Post
    Unless you are in it to win it, I wouldn't recommend a hardtail for a stage race. Even Jeremiah Bishop thinks so: JB's Go Big or Go Bigger: I will not ride hardtail at Pisgah! - VeloNews.com

    I just want to qualify that. Pisgah is a different animal. I've done BCBR, TR, TSE, Breck Epic, Tour de Burg, and La Ruta... all on a rigid single speed.

    But when I head to Pisgah for racing or riding, 9 times outta ten, I will grab a bike with a fork on it. It's quite the unique animal.
    WWW.TEAMDICKY.COM

    I get paid 3 every time I post on MTBR.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 13
    Last Post: 09-19-2013, 09:54 PM
  2. Replies: 11
    Last Post: 02-20-2013, 08:05 PM
  3. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-07-2011, 09:07 AM
  4. Steel AM Full Suss
    By mickeydesadist in forum All Mountain
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 09-07-2011, 09:40 PM
  5. Send me to the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race
    By teamdicky in forum 29er Bikes
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: 04-29-2011, 03:38 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •