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  1. #1
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    Q: Why do Cat 1/Exp/Pro Races seem to DNF if they get a flat

    Lively discussion on a regional MTB forum in which someone observed a number of races in which the Cat 1 class seemed to have an unusual number of racers DNF for flats.

    Conjecture is that some of these racers only want to podium and to them a flat means they can't take a top spot, so they bail instead of repairing it and getting back in the fray.

    Thoughts?
    "Someone must have put alcohol in my beer last night." ~ Mr. Richard Baty, Esq.


  2. #2
    Mojo0115
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    Perhaps it has something to do with racing to see how your time compares to your competitors or training goals and that once you have a substantial technical you have no ability to do that comparison and all you are left with is the suffering that comes with an XC race.

  3. #3
    canuck
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    in cat 1 there's no time for "a fix" the race is done at that point...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron D
    in cat 1 there's no time for "a fix" the race is done at that point...
    True, yet it has always perplexed me. In many other sports an athlete will fall or crash or suffer some sort of setback and continue racing, for the sake of finishing at least. Seems like MTB racing has a certain "quit" factor to it when things aren't going right. Even in downhilling, lots of riders suffer crashes and still finish the course.

  5. #5
    Mojo0115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley
    True, yet it has always perplexed me. In many other sports an athlete will fall or crash or suffer some sort of setback and continue racing, for the sake of finishing at least. Seems like MTB racing has a certain "quit" factor to it when things aren't going right. Even in downhilling, lots of riders suffer crashes and still finish the course.
    But in Downhilling we might as well finish the race (assuming you are capable) because the easy way down and the fun way down is on the race course - so why not finish it?

    But in XC racing all you have is suffering ahead. I would bail as well, but then I would probably start the race with a slow leak thorn to give me the reason to stop.

    Riding trails is fun, XC racing them just hurts

  6. #6
    LMN
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    Because to save weight lots of people are silly and don't bring a spare tube.

    It is more common in the Cat 1 category then in the elite category. Most (but definately not all) elites understand that a DNF leads to more DNFs.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  7. #7
    Rolling
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron D
    in cat 1 there's no time for "a fix" the race is done at that point...
    Exactly. Pro = business. It's a business decision pure and simple.

    Nate, in the elite level, all the racers want a podium. You flat, the only chance you have is that everyone else does too...and what are the odds of that?

  8. #8
    7MGTE
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzsean
    But in Downhilling we might as well finish the race (assuming you are capable) because the easy way down and the fun way down is on the race course - so why not finish it?

    But in XC racing all you have is suffering ahead. I would bail as well, but then I would probably start the race with a slow leak thorn to give me the reason to stop.

    Riding trails is fun, XC racing them just hurts
    I noticed that in the Mountain States Cup Series last year about the DHers. I saw some super fast Pros and Cat 1 racers all season coming down with flat tries. Some of these guys were putting down times better than Sport riders with no flats it was impressive.

  9. #9
    N8!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBNate
    Lively discussion on a regional MTB forum in which someone observed a number of races in which the Cat 1 class seemed to have an unusual number of racers DNF for flats.

    Conjecture is that some of these racers only want to podium and to them a flat means they can't take a top spot, so they bail instead of repairing it and getting back in the fray.

    Thoughts?
    Easy,

    it's a dirt ROADIE mentality....


  10. #10
    likes to ride bikes
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    Talking to ourselves again, I see Nate

  11. #11
    I like mtn biking, too
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    I don't think they know how to change a flat. Lance Armstrong rode the last 6 miles of Leadville on bare rim because he didn't know how. heh heh. But he finished! And beat everyone else by an ungodly margin. Of course.
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Because to save weight lots of people are silly and don't bring a spare tube.

    It is more common in the Cat 1 category then in the elite category. Most (but definately not all) elites understand that a DNF leads to more DNFs.
    That's one for sure (no tube/C02 or pump).

    I burped my rear tire on lap 1 at World's last September. Luckily I had a fresh C02 big air on my seat post, so stopped, inflated, kept going. It didn't help my finish, but probably didn't hurt it all that much either (the weight of the c02 and the time stopped).


    I was doing a duo-12 hour in 2009 and was the leading female (fastest lap) on the opening lap of the race. It was just a few days after I saw Race Across the Sky. Had to laugh to myself when I felt my rear tire going flat. I wanted to look around for my team car I still wound up tying for fastest lap - but had to use my C02!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBNate
    Lively discussion on a regional MTB forum in which someone observed a number of races in which the Cat 1 class seemed to have an unusual number of racers DNF for flats.

    Conjecture is that some of these racers only want to podium and to them a flat means they can't take a top spot, so they bail instead of repairing it and getting back in the fray.

    Thoughts?
    Because...dude....they are like really "roadie *****" who went on their MTBs for a day and couldnt handle it. They probably didnt "wave" while porting out their flatted rigs, either.

  14. #14
    Bored Carp
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Most (but definately not all) elites understand that a DNF leads to more DNFs.
    Not really.

    If you are racing 50 times in a year, being rested is more important than finishing a race where you are out of contention. There may be more DNFs in higher categories, but it is because racing is a job, not just weekend fun. Rather than indicating a lack of fortitude, it indicates smarts about long term goals. These racers don't need the extra race time in order to get into form, they need recovery.

    The fact is, no one cares who finished mid-pack on a flat. You don't get mag coverage, no UCI points, there is no podium pic, and you can't send a good report to your sponsors. Armstrong is a special case. If he finishes on a flat, USA today will run a story about it and your mother will buy another yellow bracelet. Of course, if LA buys a full fat latte they will also run a story on that, so...

    Racing at the elite level is a huge investment in time and money, especially for professionals and cat 1 racers without a major sponsor. While racing on the road, I added up what I could have been earning at a "real" job plus the cost of my equipment, coaching, PT, nutrition, travel, etc. The total cost was shocking, and gave me a very clear perspective on what each individual event actually cost. Never again did I tolerate teammates who were late, unprepared or sloppy, and I was better able to very clearly separate short term actions from long term goals.

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  15. #15
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    There's a difference between racing mentality and trail riding mentality. When you race you aren't out to "just relax, have fun, and work out". You race to race. Against others, against your time, whatever.

    Seems like a primadona move to me too, but I don't race, so I can only imagine that you would have to race to understand.

  16. #16
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    There's also the risk of injury to consider. Why bother finishing a race when you have absolutely no chance of placing? What happens if you get hurt? For the casual rider/racer, no big deal, you recover. If racing is your livelihood, there goes your income.

  17. #17
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    Next time I see a roadie I'm gonna punch him in the head and tell him its for all those cat 1 racers that don't finish races.

  18. #18
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuky
    Not really.

    If you are racing 50 times in a year, being rested is more important than finishing a race where you are out of contention. There may be more DNFs in higher categories, but it is because racing is a job, not just weekend fun. Rather than indicating a lack of fortitude, it indicates smarts about long term goals. These racers don't need the extra race time in order to get into form, they need recovery.
    Very, very few elite level MTBers races 50 times year. On the road that is true but on the dirt not at all. A ridiculously huge race season would be 20 races a year.

    I have coached 20 elite level MTBer over the past ten years. Other than one athlete all of those elites could count their DNFs with two fingers. Last season I worked with eight elites, there was not a single DNF all season.

    Those who flatted in racing kept on racing because the race was a key part of their training. And as I said earlier, they understand that DNFing when you have a flat leads to DNFing because you aren't racing how you want too.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  19. #19
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    it would be like fixing a flat during a 4X race when you snap outta the gate. pointless. I imagine your "race" at that level would turn into a long hard interval training day once you're spit out by that high of a caliber field.
    always face the herd

  20. #20
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    zzsean: +1

    Grouping pro/elites and cat 1 together and MTB disciplines is pretty broad. Same for lumping XC, DS, DH etc., and people. We are not all the same, right?

    As for XC, my perspective:
    Plenty of cat 1, pro and elite pro racers DO change flats. You only see the ones who don't. Same for a lot of cat 2 and Cat 3 racers. Maybe the race you are talking about had some other attributes. Ask em.

    When a Cat 1 or local pro does throw in the towel, the reasons I buy into are :
    weight savings - why bring stuff that is dead weight? No stuff, no repair.
    damage - if you ride on a flat, $1K wheels don't always come out of it in good stead
    disappointment - damn sob mfer dang i trained hard and now I can't show my stuff...
    finishes - Most pros are local pros. They are riding for parts, discounts, race fees and being part of the racing scene or cycling industry. Sponsors look for exposure. Everything's gotta work to be in front- including the equipment.
    Lameness - incredibly, some racers take forever to change a flat and so they pack it in. Plus they might bend a nail.
    Victims - some racers give up at the first opportunity...they'll dwell and love telling the story of being the victim. Some pout really well. Usually these guys leave the scene in a year or so cuz no one will listen anymore and know they either are too fixated on downer thoughts or are really covering for lack of fitness.
    results: most XC races are super short <1.5 hrs for top guns. Even a 3 minute change puts you out of contention for a podium. The longer the race, the more I see Cat 1 and pros carrying tools, tubes etc... (point to point 100Ks etc..) A racer can flat, change it, and still podium because the time used can be offset by other factors occuring over the long duration.
    feel like shite - sometimes a flat is the last straw for a racer who is freakin' tired, or coerced somehow into racing.(by another or by themselves).

    For me, even more engaging is "Why do some racers keep racing even after a series of setbacks?" It can make for a great racing story and speaks to the physical and mental strength developed through racing. Will and persistance rule.

  21. #21
    zrm
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    These days the elite level, there is neutral support on course and since courses are such short loops these days (and getting shorter) and a rider can either ride on a flat or run an, presto! Swap out a wheel and off they go. Personally, I don't like this change, call me hopelessly old school, but I've always felt part of MTB racing was the self sufficiency aspect.

    Most races outside the pro series though, don't have support on course and I think most racers, be they Cat 1, pro, or cat 3 can and do fix flats and most cat 1s are pretty fast at it too. As others have mentioned, there are lots of reasons to pack it in, but IMO most people do want to finish a race.

  22. #22
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    I've noticed this trend among Pros too, not as much Cat 1 or Expert racers. 95% of flats and mechanicals are a result of poor preperation or equipment choice.

    I think it's a combination of factors:
    -Feels like there's no hope after losing 3 minutes-but there actually is! Your really have to view that flat changing time as recovery time.
    -Feels like they need to save themselves for races where they stand a chance.
    -Don't want a midiocre result on their race resume.

    I DNF'd once because I was not well prepared...what a horrible feeling. I refuse to ever DNF again, unless for injury. If I ,or my sponsor, paid an entry fee, I'm going to finish the race. Riding is fun, more fun than dropping out of a race and watching others ride through.
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