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  1. #1
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    First Race: Camelbak or Bottle?

    My first race is coming up pretty soon and it got me thinking about what I should be packing onto the trail. The race is only 12 miles so I was thinking about hydration and tools. I usually ride Trails with my Camelbak since I can carry some tools in there in case something breaks down. But I was looking at pictures of racing guys and none, and I mean none, of them wear a Camelback when they race. I was thinking I could just carry a bottle with some type of sports drink or something in it. Would the weight saved in carrying a bottle be worth being stuck on the trail? So, Camelback with tools, or bottle without?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Put the tools in the back pockets of your jersey? Or a seatpost bag maybe?
    Ben - Clydesdale - Type II Diabetic - 6'7", ~278lbs in 09/2011 - A1C 9.4%, ~228lbs in 07/2012 - A1C 5.6%, ~240lbs in 05/2013

  3. #3
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    a few of my team mates use camelbacks and quite a few guys wear them in my race series. they are nice on a long lap course or if you dont have someone to do had ups for you.
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  4. #4
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    I would go w/out hydration for a 12 mile race.

    I did it for my first race (9.75M), and never missed it - placed 7th/29. Put a tube and tools in your jersey pockets and leave the pack/bottle at home.
    '95 M2 StumpJumper FS
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  5. #5
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    I race cat1 and wear a Camelbak. But for a 12 mile race I would consider just a half bottle to ward of cotton mouth.

  6. #6
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    12 miles? One bottle and no tools. If you really want, carry a tube and C02 in your jersey.

    I only use the hydration pack for rides longer than 2-3 hours, where I might not have access to water to refill bottles.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by reedfe View Post
    My first race is coming up pretty soon and it got me thinking about what I should be packing onto the trail. The race is only 12 miles so I was thinking about hydration and tools. I usually ride Trails with my Camelbak since I can carry some tools in there in case something breaks down. But I was looking at pictures of racing guys and none, and I mean none, of them wear a Camelback when they race. I was thinking I could just carry a bottle with some type of sports drink or something in it. Would the weight saved in carrying a bottle be worth being stuck on the trail? So, Camelback with tools, or bottle without?
    Thanks!
    Stuck on the trails? if youre in south florida and its a 12 mile race youre only 2 miles MAXIMUM from the trailhead.

    Also, if its 12 miles, you probably signed up category 3, not category 4... if its truly your first race just concentrate on finishing. I dont know your ability but even in cat 3 the competition will probably be faster than you think.

  8. #8
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    I agree with the others, 12 mi race is short for a water pack, and you probably won't need the bottle either. If it was mid summer, maybe a bottle, due to the higher heat. I always chew gum to help keep my mouth wet. It work amazingly well. Give it a shot.

  9. #9
    Gears... I hate gears
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    I would NEVER consider going without hydration. I sweat so much that I'll go through that 70 oz Camelbak in about 2 hours. I am registered in the Junoir category so I'm not too sure what to expect but like you guys have said, I am focused on finishing with a good performance (my opinion) and having fun with my riding buddy. It seems like the general consensus is to go with the bottle and pray that nothing happens while on the trail. I don't even have a jersey or seat bag because I put everything in my pack when I go. I've never had the need for one. Thanks for the swift replies guys!

  10. #10
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    i'll kind of disagree with others and suggest you take one bottle, a tube and c02 and perhaps a multi tool or 5mm allen wrench. The extra weight is minimal and you might be able to stop and spend 30 seconds tightening a bolt rather than walking out.

    I had my bars loosen up at the stem in a race in the spring when I was riding in a group on a non technical section, I was able to dig the tool out and tighten the bolts while I sat at the back. I would have dropped out otherwise as the bolts were quite loose.

    I like feeling confident when I roll up to the line. If the camelback makes you feel confident, wear it. If people snicker, then beat them.

  11. #11
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    I had the same questions when I entered my first race. In the end I decided on the water bottle with a seat bag with tube and tools. The main reason for the tools is not to finish the race and contend but not to be stuck in rattle snake country walking out.

    Having the knowledge of water intake during physical activity and prior to activity is key as well, hydrate well before and use the water during the race in small amounts and to wash down gu. I have yet to finish a bottle of water in a race and many are held in 95+ degree weather. Do some research on diet and race preparation if you have not already. Enjoy the race!

  12. #12
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    Never try something new during a race! Go with tools in the pack and maybe fill your pack up about 20 oz. I personally prefer to race with a pack. It's a lot easier to put the tube in my mouth and then ride over technical rootballs and rockgardens. I've tried the bottle before and have been caught with the bottle in hand when I forgot about certain trail obstructions around blind turns. I also prefer to get the weight off the bike and on my shoulders.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mucky View Post
    I agree with the others, 12 mi race is short for a water pack, and you probably won't need the bottle either. If it was mid summer, maybe a bottle, due to the higher heat. I always chew gum to help keep my mouth wet. It work amazingly well. Give it a shot.
    Do not do this. If you accidentally inhale the gum while breathing heavily, you are in serious trouble. Sorry, but this is a very bad suggestion.

    If it were me, I would go without water in a race that short, but if you must bring water, either a camelback or a bottle is fine. If you are accustomed to the pack, bring it. You are already used to drinking from it on the go. In the heat of the moment is not a good time to worry about grabbing a bottle and replacing it. You will see plenty of people with packs, too, just not in photos of elite racers. They have feed stations.

  14. #14
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    I recently went back to bottles with a few things in my jersey pocket and strapped under my seat with an Awesome Strap just to try something different. I can't believe someone suggested no water...I can't imagine it even for short races. I only carry stuff to change a tire, anything else 1) can be prevented by proper bike maint. and 2) you won't be able to fix anyway so you will walk.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  15. #15
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    not to hijack this thread..do you guys think a 19 mile course still warrants only a bottle?

  16. #16
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    Do what you're used to. Who cares if "the cool kids" run bottles and secure CO2, tube, and tools with an Awesome Strap.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bosbik View Post
    not to hijack this thread..do you guys think a 19 mile course still warrants only a bottle?
    I would personally take water and then another water/hammer mix in the jersey pocket.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack Monkey View Post
    12 miles? One bottle and no tools. If you really want, carry a tube and C02 in your jersey.

    I only use the hydration pack for rides longer than 2-3 hours, where I might not have access to water to refill bottles.
    This.

    One bottle is all you need and in a race that short I wouldn't carry tools because if you flat or have a mechanical your race is over anyway.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crack Monkey View Post
    12 miles? One bottle and no tools. If you really want, carry a tube and C02 in your jersey.

    I only use the hydration pack for rides longer than 2-3 hours, where I might not have access to water to refill bottles.
    In a 12 mile race If you need tools you already lost.

    I ride with a camelback but race with a bottle. Bottles take some practice as you need much more time with a hand off the bar which can make it difficult in tough terrain.

    I'd go bottle, you stay cooler too which I think is important.

  20. #20
    Gears... I hate gears
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    Quote Originally Posted by litany View Post
    In a 12 mile race If you need tools you already lost.

    I ride with a camelback but race with a bottle. Bottles take some practice as you need much more time with a hand off the bar which can make it difficult in tough terrain.

    I'd go bottle, you stay cooler too which I think is important.
    I was sort of thinking the same thing. I think I'm going to hit up some singletrack on Wednesday and practice with the bottle! That could be an excuse to give to my parents to hit the trails!

  21. #21
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    I dropped the other night the second ride in years with a bottle. You just can't drink whenever you want to with them. It also teaches you discipline w/r to the volume you consume.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemiwinks View Post
    Never try something new during a race! Go with tools in the pack and maybe fill your pack up about 20 oz. I personally prefer to race with a pack. It's a lot easier to put the tube in my mouth and then ride over technical rootballs and rockgardens. I've tried the bottle before and have been caught with the bottle in hand when I forgot about certain trail obstructions around blind turns. I also prefer to get the weight off the bike and on my shoulders.
    This, ^^^ I race with a hydration pack. I find it a lot easier also. Ive tried bottles and I guess the only reason some riders use them is to stay cooler?

  23. #23
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    During my first ever race, I lost one of my water bottles. I was fortunate enough to be passing someone from Team Madcat who, when he realised who I was (from these forums), lent me a few sips from his bottle with 5 miles left in the race… which I ended up winning (Napa Valley Dirt Classic, 2011, Men’s Cat3 35-44; I immediately upgraded to Cat2 since the 1st place finish). I’ve since done five races with a hydration backback and believe that if it is set up properly you will not notice the extra weight carried on your back—they make ones with lower back straps (such as the offerings of Vaude) so they will lessen the burden on your upper body. However, I did manage to run my Camelbak dry with less than 6 miles to go in one of my last races—slowing for the hydration/aid station people was not a good move, as I was only 20 seconds away from 1st place when I crossed the finish line in first place—2012 Howell Mountain Challenge, average course temperature was 99°F, hottest point was 102.5°F.
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  24. #24
    XC Hack
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    I train/fun ride with a CB but come race day I switch to a bottle on the frame and carry only a tube, levers, 1 CO2, a missing link and a frame-mounted mini pump--these are in my jersey pockets (except the mini pump). I tape 1-2 GUs on my top tube in case I bonk. I would not go w/o water, you need to drink. Drink well two days before the event and have a big glass 2 hours ahead of your race start. Good luck!

  25. #25
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    Well I had my first race and I went for a pre-race ride trying to use the bottle but that was just too difficult so I used the camelback on the race. Thanks for the input though guys!

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