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  1. #1
    zrm
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    Does anybody miss the self sufficiency ethic of old?

    I was talking with a friend about the "old days of racing and we were talking about how races now have support zones and such. II think we both agreed that we felt that allowing MTB racers to take on outside mechanical assistance took something away from the spirit of the sport. The feeling is just like folks outside of the race realm, racers should carry tools and spares to fix flats, repair chains, etc. If the bike or a component fails because it's too fragile, then maybe it needs to be built a little more burly.

    The other thing we were talking about - and this has more to do with longer races is how many feed zones racers seem to demand these days. I helped plan the Breck 100 and the original idea was you are self sufficient except at the start/finish of each of the three 30mile loops. That went out the window pretty quick and now the race has like six feed zones in addition to the start/finish area. It takes a lot of resources for a race organizer to staff and supply lots of feed zones but when I've asked folks, most say they'd rather pay more (even though many people complain about entry fees) and have aid stations every 15 miles than have cheaper fees and be on their own for feed.

    Basically a couple of curmudgeonly old farts grousing about how easy the damn kids have it these days.

    Anyway, what say others?

  2. #2
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    I've only been in 3 races, many many many years ago. You supported yourself. They did have water that was it. mechanical? you have 2 options: fix it yourself or DNF.
    The pro's did have their own team mechanic but once you cross the start line, you are on your own until the finish.

    I started watching the vid posted a few threads down. The UCI World Cup.
    The course looked much too manicured and smooth. the rock garden? where are the loose rocks at?
    Then the commentator started talking about riders swapping eyewear.
    I stopped watching then because I realized the mountain bike cross country races have turned into a road race?
    I'd expect that in the Tour de France, but a MTB XC race? did everyone go pansy?
    Whats next? MTB Time Trials?

    The old XC race courses, now THAT was MTB Racing!

  3. #3
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    I find that the people who are organised enough to shuttle their vittles off to the 30km/60km or whatever marks are generally the type who would be self-sufficient even if they didn't have that option. So, so organised.

    Begin rant:
    Equally bemused by the amount of "Impressive Camp Gear" that they fold out as soon as they park their Subarus at the camp grounds. There can be a nice pub 300m down the road serving great lamb roast, but no, out comes gas ovens, MSGs, assortments of tables, Marquees, oil heaters, etc, etc,...for a 6hr stay. Ok you win!
    End rant
    Ego maniacs please object to my posts.

  4. #4
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    To my knowledge amateurs are not allowed mechanical assistance..?? As for the pros, well who cares whether they fix their own stuff or not? I don't get any enjoyment of seeing them change a flat. I think it is impressive that they have to run the course in the forward direction to get to the tech zones. I remember Absalon running like mad last year to get there so he wouldn't lose too many points for the overall.

    I'll agree with you on too many feed zones. The last endurance race I did there were neutral support zones, neutral water zones, rider support zones, some places you could have combinations of rider/neutral and some places you couldnt. It was confusing to keep up with and near the end I completely lost track of where and what the next zone would be.

  5. #5
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    Zrm I raced brek epic last year and the support was outstanding. For $200/day noone should be sent home early because of a mechanical dnf. In other one day races the support is far less. I don't agree with any mechanical support for a one day race no matter the distance. But food and water at decent intervals let's racers go light and really race. If you have a mechanical you can't fix you go home but bonking/dehydrated riders can easily end up in the hospitol or worse.

    Us old schoolers need to realize that this sport is still growing up. World cups are far from the parking lot affairs the sport began as, look at the Firecracker 50. The first one was a handfull of racers in the ice rink parking lot, last year it was 750 racers. As mtbiking continues to evolve so will its rules. Some for the better some not. Who kows that in 50 years the great divide race may be full teams and support cars.

  6. #6
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    Ps let's not forget that at the 01 worlds in vail gunn rita lost the rainbow jersey to a slashed tire on the last lap. Sponsers don't want races decided by mechanicals. That's part of why things are the way they are at the world cup level.

  7. #7
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    I watched Adam Craig have his flat rear tire/wheel swapped out by a mechanic in the tech zone Saturday at the Pro-XCT in Texas. I also watched him tough it out climbing a long, steep jeeproad on the flat to get to it. Lesser riders would have pushed it up, or just quit.
    I guess I don't have a problem with tech zones in pro-level races, if it drifted over to amateur races I would.
    Endurance racing is different. Our state has a marathon series in the fall/winter, but it's still possible in Texas to have a hot one in that period. Typically, most venues will have a feedzone/tech zone that you pass through every hour or so, and some will have a couple of other "self-serve" stations with just a couple coolers of water to help you get through.

  8. #8
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    As happened with Katarina Nash at Pietermaritzburg, 6th place to 41st with a flat, the tech zone was no help to her. Or MHP last year in Houffalize, had a derailleur fail just past the first tech zone which meant a 2.5km run on the singletrack course, up and down, to get to the next tech zone, she was 20+ minutes back by that time, so even after a repair there was no point finishing as she was well out of the points.

    The service zone helps with fairly minor problems, but not likely to influence the outcome with the new shorter race format with a shorter lap..
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill
    As happened with Katarina Nash at Pietermaritzburg, 6th place to 41st with a flat, the tech zone was no help to her. Or MHP last year in Houffalize, had a derailleur fail just past the first tech zone which meant a 2.5km run on the singletrack course, up and down, to get to the next tech zone, she was 20+ minutes back by that time, so even after a repair there was no point finishing as she was well out of the points.

    The service zone helps with fairly minor problems, but not likely to influence the outcome with the new shorter race format with a shorter lap..
    I'm not against the tech zones in of themselves. What I am againt is that many of the pro riders (as evidenced above) have completely abandoned the notion of doing a repair on course to fix a flat or some other types of problems. Making an intelligent decision in the heat of battle about whether to run to a tech zone or try to fix could represent interesting strategic decisions. In past years, albeit with longer race durations, it wasn't totally out of the question for a pro rider to fix their own flat and still score a podium finish at a world cup. Nowadays, I wonder when the last time was that a pro even fixed their own flat on course - period.

  10. #10
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    Katarina did stop and fix the flat before she could get to the tech zone, she actually was busy putting a tube in on the video footage when the top 20 went past her.

    In Houffalize MHP had a trashed rear wheel when the derailleur went into the spokes, so it was a carry for the whole 2.5km. Fullana had run into her bike earlier in the lap when she was up in the top 5, she stopped in the tech zone to check the bike and check for a bent hanger, it looked OK, she rolled out of the tech zone and then the hanger broke off and dropped the derailleur into the spokes Apparently she was quite ticked and after the bike was fixed and she DNF'd, she went out and rode for an hour to cool down.
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  11. #11
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    These discussions too often devolve to what a handleful of top pros do. I'll comment based on being one of the other 99.44% of racers:

    There is an undeniable self-reliance that develops when HAVING TO MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN. It's so much more satisfying and imparts lasting self-confidence.

  12. #12
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    There is an undeniable self-reliance that develops when HAVING TO MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN. It's so much more satisfying and imparts lasting self-confidence.
    Well said!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip
    Making an intelligent decision in the heat of battle about whether to run to a tech zone or try to fix could represent interesting strategic decisions.
    The fact that most racers now have this decision to make shows how far MTB has deviated from a self-sufficient wilderness-ethic sport. IOW - "back in the old days" you had no choice but to fix it yourself or face being stranded in the woods. Hmm maybe that explains why more and more people are flocking to endurance racing...

  14. #14
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raineman
    These discussions too often devolve to what a handleful of top pros do. I'll comment based on being one of the other 99.44% of racers:

    There is an undeniable self-reliance that develops when HAVING TO MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN. It's so much more satisfying and imparts lasting self-confidence.
    I agree
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  15. #15
    M_S
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    I think this is why I'm gravitating towards endurance events that send you off into the backcountry where it's just you and the other riders. But my "A" event this year still has 5 aid stations and you can drop stuff off at all of them pre-race. I'm ok with the aid stations, but I have mixed feelings about the drop boxes. The combined effect makes it more of...I dunno... developed feel?

    I don't have a more concrete complaint than that, but self-supported to me is more fun. It also gives a little less advantage to the guys who can bring tons of extra stuff. It's like a long cross race. I love cross, but I want XC/endurance to be different.
    - Simon

  16. #16
    It's about showing up.
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    I do enjoy top riders falling back, just like the rest of us schmos, due to a mechanical. Deal; we're all on the same course. If you made your bike too light and fragile, you pay. If you have bad luck, you pay. That's racing.

    The comment that sponsors don't like to see their racers fall off the group due to mechanicals just figures. I guess they cannot figure out how to make money on self-reliance. It makes more sense for them to promote the idea that it is the bike and not the motor.

  17. #17
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    Yes. Big Time ...and I'm not just taking about racing bicycles either but that's a rant best served with beer ...but only if you brewed the beer yourself

    Anyway, in preparation for my eventual (I have not set a timeline yet) ride of the Continental Divide Trail, I have made self sufficiency one of my top goals for this year. The others top goal is vastly improve my efficiency in riding and energy consumption.

    With most folks staying in shape all year 'round these days, I propose that the "off-season" be a period of time when you focus on learning how to work on your own stuff.

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