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  1. #1
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    Nationals


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    East coast rocky singletrack - the pro course will likely be approx 3.5 mile laps. You can come race the same course as nationals on 6/2. If you are fairly local that should give you a big advantage over those who've never ridden the place. It is probably on the more challenging side of many XC races.

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    I'm planning on it. Just noticed that the Women's SS and Women's pro race are within hours of each other... OOF
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    Here's a link to the course maps Bear Creek USAC Nationals 2013 Course Maps

    Most of the second half of the course, from about mile 3.5 to mile 7 or so, is the most technical part of the course.

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    I'm coming out from Wyoming to race in the Cat 3 race (hey, we wanted to take a little road trip, what can I say?). I'm use to rocky technical, but not too familiarized with roots since it's really not what you find out here. It'll definitely be an experience! I'm just happy I train at 7000-9000 feet so my lungs should be well conditioned for the "sea level" type of elevation Nationals will be at! ("Sea level" to me like is anything under 3000 feet, haha!)

    Anybody have any idea what kind of miles the amateur racers are looking at? Looks like a lap is 7.5 miles, but surely we'll have to do more than one, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    Anybody have any idea what kind of miles the amateur racers are looking at? Looks like a lap is 7.5 miles, but surely we'll have to do more than one, right?
    Cat 3 is doing 1 lap, Cat 2 is doing 2 laps, and Cat 1 is doing 3 laps.

    At the last Bear Creek race from August 2012, the laps were 6.1 miles according to my gps.
    Last edited by Mucker; 05-14-2013 at 07:19 PM. Reason: wrong info see new post

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    Here's a video that shows what the trails are like. Bear Creek - Sep 2010 - YouTube

    The singletrack in the first 30s is the first section of singletrack in the race loop. The singletrack in the rest of the video includes sections that were done in past races and are typical of most of the trails that are in the second half of the race.

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    Oh boy, maybe I should upgrade my license... one lap just doesn't seem long enough to me (I've been doing 20+ mile unsanctioned races this spring for training for a 70 mile race in July, so I've become mileage greedy). I dunno if I wanna be Cat 2 already, though... ughhhh. But I want more miles! But the time does seem rather slow going (I'm Cat 3 30-39 women, so if that was men I expect even slower times in my class). Excuse my rambling, haha. I'm pretty darn excited for nationals!

    Thanks for the info and video, should definitely help since I've never MTB'd on the east coast before, and will be doing this very much blind. I will be there early enough for the practice time on the Wednesday before, luckily. Like I said, this is mostly for the epic road trip (and perhaps a podium spot if I'm darn lucky!)... can't wait to hit up NJ for some trails, and random places along I-80 on the trip out there and back!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    Oh boy, maybe I should upgrade my license... one lap just doesn't seem long enough to me (I've been doing 20+ mile unsanctioned races this spring for training for a 70 mile race in July, so I've become mileage greedy). I dunno if I wanna be Cat 2 already, though... ughhhh. But I want more miles! But the time does seem rather slow going (I'm Cat 3 30-39 women, so if that was men I expect even slower times in my class). Excuse my rambling, haha. I'm pretty darn excited for nationals!

    Thanks for the info and video, should definitely help since I've never MTB'd on the east coast before, and will be doing this very much blind. I will be there early enough for the practice time on the Wednesday before, luckily. Like I said, this is mostly for the epic road trip (and perhaps a podium spot if I'm darn lucky!)... can't wait to hit up NJ for some trails, and random places along I-80 on the trip out there and back!
    I gave the wrong times in my last post. I was looking at the cat 2 20-29 age group.

    Cat 3 16-29 males best time was just about 50 mins. Cat 3 under 40 female was 1:04. Here's a link to the results Mid Atlantic Timing

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    Is there strava times or segments out there for the pro courses? Need to take a look at some of the sections if anyone has any idea on the length of the climbs, etc.

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    Re: Nationals

    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    ... can't wait to hit up NJ for some trails, and random places along I-80 on the trip out there and back!
    Might be worth your while to check out the trails in the quad cities on your trip. Three fun trail systems within 10 minutes of I-80 at the Iowa/Illinois border!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mucker View Post
    I gave the wrong times in my last post. I was looking at the cat 2 20-29 age group.

    Cat 3 16-29 males best time was just about 50 mins. Cat 3 under 40 female was 1:04. Here's a link to the results Mid Atlantic Timing
    Haha ok, that sounds a bit better. I was thinking it must be some horrible trails if one lap took 1.5 hours!

    Kind of weird the inconsistencies in course lengths... I heard last year at Nationals in Sun Valley the amateur course was over 15 miles (and the finish times seem to mimic those distances in Cat 3).

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    I haven't seen any segments of the official pro course yet. There are some of the amatuer course though.

    -matt

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    I raced there a few years ago and from what I remember and like another poster mentioned, the second half of the course is the more technical part, I remember a lot of rocks!

    One of the earlier climbs can get super muddy and slippery even of it hasn't rained in a day or two.

    I can't wait to come back home and race this course!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    Oh boy, maybe I should upgrade my license... one lap just doesn't seem long enough to me (I've been doing 20+ mile unsanctioned races this spring for training for a 70 mile race in July, so I've become mileage greedy). I dunno if I wanna be Cat 2 already, though... ughhhh.
    Just my opinion. If you are doing a 70 mile race and already doing 20+ mile races there is no way you should be racing with Cat 3 beginners. Last year was my first year racing, I raced Cat 3 and won my race series. So I'm upgrading to Cat 2 even though I'm going to get crushed. I've never ridden more than 40 miles on my road bike and have never done more than 20 miles on the mtb. Just my opinion but your obviously riding and training quite a bit. However, maybe in your area the Cat 3 riders are all experienced riders who train all the time. If so, my apologies.
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    Yall think big tires are the way to go here?

    Like Maxxis Ardent big?

    Still waiting for a high volume, fast rolling, low profile, race tire....
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    Nationals

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    Yall think big tires are the way to go here?

    Like Maxxis Ardent big?

    Still waiting for a high volume, fast rolling, low profile, race tire....
    That would be a Conti Race King 2.2
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    Most people who race there are probably on 2.1 or 2.2's generally. Something with some sidewall durability as there are semi-sharp rocks. Know of a few guys running non-snakeskinned schwalbes that cut sidewalls. I've gotten lucky running lighter weight tires in the past, but usually opt for something all around (decent sidewall protection, decently grippy, decently fast-rolling). I think I was on (29") 2.2 X-King front, and a 2.1 Crossmark or 2.2 Race King rear last year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    That would be a Conti Race King 2.2
    Love that tire. Would love to ride a 2.35 or 2.4 (actual) version.
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    Thanks Ski Bum. Race kings 2.2 protection may be the ticket. Ill pack all my tires though and swap if need be.
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    Anything with side wall protection would be best. Racing Ralph Snakeskin seem to be a popular choice at most races.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    Just my opinion. If you are doing a 70 mile race and already doing 20+ mile races there is no way you should be racing with Cat 3 beginners. Last year was my first year racing, I raced Cat 3 and won my race series. So I'm upgrading to Cat 2 even though I'm going to get crushed. I've never ridden more than 40 miles on my road bike and have never done more than 20 miles on the mtb. Just my opinion but your obviously riding and training quite a bit. However, maybe in your area the Cat 3 riders are all experienced riders who train all the time. If so, my apologies.
    I've only been riding a bike for exactly one year and one day, so still quite the noob! Cat 3 in the Colorado area is a bunch of sandbaggers... think pro marathon sponsored riders who strangely show up to do 10 mile Cat 3 races. So I get my butt handed to me a lot, haha. I started doing longer distances in one of our bigger XC/endurance race series because nobody shows up to race the beginner/shorter distance races, and I got sick of super easy wins. I've learned the sandbagging is worse in USAC races, so I do the worse in those.... I do have one more USAC race in June before Nationals, and might play it by ear and see how that goes and then considering upgrading before Nationals. The biggest thing I struggle with is that Cat 3 doesn't mean beginner to a bike, it means beginner to racing...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    I've only been riding a bike for exactly one year and one day, so still quite the noob! Cat 3 in the Colorado area is a bunch of sandbaggers... think pro marathon sponsored riders who strangely show up to do 10 mile Cat 3 races. So I get my butt handed to me a lot, haha. I started doing longer distances in one of our bigger XC/endurance race series because nobody shows up to race the beginner/shorter distance races, and I got sick of super easy wins. I've learned the sandbagging is worse in USAC races, so I do the worse in those.... I do have one more USAC race in June before Nationals, and might play it by ear and see how that goes and then considering upgrading before Nationals. The biggest thing I struggle with is that Cat 3 doesn't mean beginner to a bike, it means beginner to racing...
    I'm kind of in the same boat as you too. Except in my area there isn't a huge amount of racers in Cat 3 and it's filled literally with weekend warriors, people just getting into racing and wanting to get their feet wet first. Which it should be. I'm moving up to Cat 2 this year and will run into the same problem you are at Cat 3. Big sandbagging.

    Sorry if my post came off the wrong way. I can imagine that Cat 3 in colorado is more like Cat 2 in my area. There is a guy signed up for the first series race in June in my Cat 2 group who at the Tour of Battenkill (road race) beat my buddy by over 12 mins and my buddy races Cat 1 mtb. I raced with this same guy at an "open" (no categories) race last month and he won the whole race and beat me by 40 mins. So I know I'm going to get crushed. I'm just hoping to finish mid-pack.

    Good luck this year. A friend of mine did race Bear Creek last year and said the rocks, if your not used to them in your normal riding, really will beat you up.
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    I raced there last year with either a small block or an Ikon. I can't remember exactly. They hooked up great on the rocks. I did not notice much loose, mostly big awesome rocks. Very cool descent! .... Either way, I skewered a large nail 1/2 mile from the bottom and ended up walking out. So I would vote for large volume, low rolling resistance and puncture protection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post

    Good luck this year. A friend of mine did race Bear Creek last year and said the rocks, if your not used to them in your normal riding, really will beat you up.
    No harm, I know I'm on the borderline and it's hard to know, as I go to USAC races and get crushed in Cat 3, but just won an unsanctioned intermediate race this weekend, so it's kinda like "ummm, am I cat 2 or no?"

    We definitely have a lot of rocky techy terrain here, so that should help with this PA rocks... hopefully! Ima play close attention to tire suggestions. I run the Spec Fast Track tires that my Epic came with, and they're doing good, but wondering if I should beef it up for PA since it'll be more damp and the Fast Tracks seem to like dry stuff better. Hell if I know... haha.

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    I sure wish they would hold Nats somewhere close to the West Coast one of these days. Oregon, California...something like that..

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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    I sure wish they would hold Nats somewhere close to the West Coast one of these days. Oregon, California...something like that..
    It was in Sun Valley, ID last year. That's right next to Oregon. I glanced through the results, lots of CA riders showed up.
    Enjoying the powder and looking forward to spring!

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    Any thoughts on SS gearing? We normally run 2:1ish(29er) for xc races here in southern MI.

    I've done some riding around State College, Pisgah, upstate NY/NH, CO, UT, MI's UP, southern IN/KY, so I think I've got the rocks/roots part covered

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    That would be a Conti Race King 2.2
    Tire guru - how about something with a good strong sidewall. I've also been having an issue lately with small cuts into the treadblocks that Stan's won't seal.

    Give me your best rocky terrain tire recommendations.

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmor View Post
    Tire guru - how about something with a good strong sidewall. I've also been having an issue lately with small cuts into the treadblocks that Stan's won't seal.

    Give me your best rocky terrain tire recommendations.

    Thanks!
    I do not have issues with casing cuts or tears. Maybe 5-6 in 30 years. And the ones I have had I never expect sealants to "fix."

    Have used Schwalbe models with Snakeskin (and without), Conti Protection (and standard) in sharp rocky events without so much as a sidewall scuff. A few pinch flats (those can become cut casings without a tube in a standard tire).

    Cut tread blocks should not leak air at all, sealant or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    Love that tire. Would love to ride a 2.35 or 2.4 (actual) version.
    The RK casing is only slightly smaller.
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    I've been mountain biking since 1992(ish) and have never ripped a sidewall. I've also never bought the snakeskin tires, I'm assuming they cost more? Do a lot of people have problems with ripping sidewalls? In races or in general?
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    Is anyone racing in a couple weeks at bear creek? If so, can we get a review of the course? Video? Tire choice?
    I don't want to show up ill prepared.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by xgjokax; 05-24-2013 at 01:23 PM.

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    By the course maps posted on usacycling, it looks like amateur XC course is similar to what I raced last year: low angle climbing with some rocks and wet areas, and some technical handling. Probably more typical of east coast riding, than mountain states, but that is just my opinion. Seems to drain well (rained while I was there) and not a lot of loose rock or clay soil that I noticed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pixy View Post
    By the course maps posted on usacycling, it looks like amateur XC course is similar to what I raced last year: low angle climbing with some rocks and wet areas, and some technical handling. Probably more typical of east coast riding, than mountain states, but that is just my opinion. Seems to drain well (rained while I was there) and not a lot of loose rock or clay soil that I noticed.
    The Bear Creek XC course doesn't change much year to year. If you've done it once you have ridden the majority of this year's course. The middle 1/3 of the course is pretty new and was added for last year's races. That section is not too technical and has a nice little climb.

    Bear Creek drains very well. There are one or two spots that are always wet but it is minor and just makes the rocks slippery in those spots.

    The race on June 2 is going to run the identical courses that are going to be run at national's barring any last minute changes. The pro/open race at 3 is running the national pro course and the Cat 1-3 are running the same course that they would run at nationals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I've been mountain biking since 1992(ish) and have never ripped a sidewall. I've also never bought the snakeskin tires, I'm assuming they cost more? Do a lot of people have problems with ripping sidewalls? In races or in general?
    I've been mtb about as long as you. Started in summer of '91 and learned to mtb in Michaux State Forest and French St. Park in PA which are extremely rocky. The most common problem I had was snakebites when running tubes. I think I only had one or two sidewall slices before going tubeless. After going tubeless I had a couple punctures from running too low of pressure. I did have a couple sidewall problems when running a tubeless without sidewall protection. I sliced one tire and had to boot it but most of the problems appeared after a race. I would usually rub the sidewall on a rock that would damage it but not enough to be catastrophic during the race. It would give out a few days later during a ride. I got tired of having to throw out tires because of that and changed to Schwalbe snakeskins. I've been lucky and haven't had an issue with sidewall damage.

    If you are going to run tires without protection be sure to put on a fresh pair before your race especially if you have been preriding the course a lot.

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    Any race reports from this weekend?

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    Rode the Bear Creek Challenge race this past weekend and it is surely on the tougher end of and XC course. If you can pre-ride, I highly recommend it.

    First three miles climb over rocks and rocks to the top of the ski area. Most of the climbing is mellow with on real steep one towards the top. Most of the rocks are baby head size and not loose. You can find a line through them pretty easy.

    Next mile is short descents and steep climbs from the top. Then you hit the descent! About 2 miles. It follows part of the Super D course and is pretty challenging. Nothing huge in the first few sections, but if you carry to much speed it can be bad. Way down in the descent there are a few really techincal switchbacks. You will know them by the mass of people waiting to see the carnage. If at all in doubt, run! You will probably be faster. This is the first race I have done in a while where there were large sections of people walking.

    The final mile is relatively flat, but rocky.

    If you were going to put together a strategy for this, I would recommend riding a reasonable pace that you can keep consistent. It's hard to understand how much energy the constant rocks take out of you. Like this weekends race, the fastest guy didn't win, the one who survived did.

    If you can pre-ride at all, consider it a very good idea.

    I rode it on a Pivor 420c. 2.2 Race Kings front and 2.2 Mountain Kings rear. Rear had protection, front did not. I think it was a pretty good choice, but it was mostly dry.

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    The course was quite slow and technical. The Cat 1 race was closer to 2.5 to 3 hours for ~21 miles. I wonder how they are going to shorten it to a normal nationals race time of 1.5 to 2 hrs? Other than being a long race I can't wait for nationals.

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    Shmack- thanks for the detailed review. It sounds like the same course that I race a few years ago. How long before you hit the single track?


    As far as I heard the courses that were run this past weekend are the same exact courses as nationals.
    The pros course is I think half the length (more laps) and more spectator friendly.

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    From what I hear it was pretty close to the course from previous years. It started with a lap around the lake and then back past the lodge and finish, up to the woods. This was probably about a half mile. As you hit the woods, there was a steep, wet section of new trail that turns 180 and heads along the wood edge. It was mowed grass. You followed this for a few hundred yards, then back out the road for a few hundred more before you hit the single track.

    Overall, I would say a solid 3/4 of a mile prior to hitting the single track. If you can, even race day, check out the mowed grass section. It is slick and off camber. It is also pretty wide, so there are really good lines and really bad lines. The bad ones will probably result in being off your bike.

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    Yea the start is a little different from when I was there.
    We would start at the finish line and then all bottle neck at the single track. This new way seems like it will open it up some.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    I've only been riding a bike for exactly one year and one day, so still quite the noob! Cat 3 in the Colorado area is a bunch of sandbaggers... think pro marathon sponsored riders who strangely show up to do 10 mile Cat 3 races. So I get my butt handed to me a lot, haha. I started doing longer distances in one of our bigger XC/endurance race series because nobody shows up to race the beginner/shorter distance races, and I got sick of super easy wins. I've learned the sandbagging is worse in USAC races, so I do the worse in those.... I do have one more USAC race in June before Nationals, and might play it by ear and see how that goes and then considering upgrading before Nationals. The biggest thing I struggle with is that Cat 3 doesn't mean beginner to a bike, it means beginner to racing...
    Your race organizers suck if they allow pros to race as cat 3s. Somehow I doubt that is happening.

    Also, "beginner" really pretty much means "lowest fitness level". Some of those Cat 3 guys bomb down hills like no tomorrow!

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    Well, it did happen, so you can doubt it if you want, but the girl raced Cat 3, and does professional level marathon MTB races. She actually just raced and placed high in an unsanctioned XC race in the pro class. Most of our racing is unsanctioned, so I'm guessing she showed up on a one day license at the USAC race as a Cat 3. I just don't get how a 11 mile Cat 3 race benefits someone who does 60+ miles normally...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    Well, it did happen, so you can doubt it if you want, but the girl raced Cat 3, and does professional level marathon MTB races. She actually just raced and placed high in an unsanctioned XC race in the pro class. Most of our racing is unsanctioned, so I'm guessing she showed up on a one day license at the USAC race as a Cat 3. I just don't get how a 11 mile Cat 3 race benefits someone who does 60+ miles normally...
    Sorry, but you made it sound like they pros are showing up in high numbers to race as Cat 3's. You are right that it is odd for her to do this. If she is on a "one day" license, then she should have at least raced as a Cat 2. Please tell me she did not stick around for the podium and awards!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Sorry, but you made it sound like they pros are showing up in high numbers to race as Cat 3's. You are right that it is odd for her to do this. If she is on a "one day" license, then she should have at least raced as a Cat 2. Please tell me she did not stick around for the podium and awards!!
    Ohh, I'm sure she did. That's how those types roll.
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    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-...18356588347806

  48. #48
    Mtb Extraordinaire
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    You are going to have a great time riding on the East Coast. I have never been to Bear Creek but I can tell you that you are in for a massive wake up call if the trails are 'East Coast' technical. If it is wet, which I'm sure it will be somewhere on the course, you won't believe how fast local guys can go over wet roots and rocks. It truly is an art that takes a long time to learn.
    You do have a great advantage with the altitude but the humidity is going to absolutely crush you (it's the opposite for me heading out west ..... the dry air is a total killer for me more than altitude). Have a great time !!! Nationals are special races for sure !!!

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmb View Post
    Any thoughts on SS gearing? We normally run 2:1ish(29er) for xc races here in southern MI.

    I've done some riding around State College, Pisgah, upstate NY/NH, CO, UT, MI's UP, southern IN/KY, so I think I've got the rocks/roots part covered

    T

    My normal gearing is 34/17 on 650b tires I'll be on 34/19 (or maybe 34/20) for Bear Creek.

    Probably my favorite XC course. I'd be bummed if I were a Pro though and had to race the shortened course.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Sorry, but you made it sound like they pros are showing up in high numbers to race as Cat 3's. You are right that it is odd for her to do this. If she is on a "one day" license, then she should have at least raced as a Cat 2. Please tell me she did not stick around for the podium and awards!!
    I don't race a lot of the sanctioned races, so I don't know how much it occurs, I'm just bitter :P . From my experience in road racing (mostly time trials) it's even worse with people on one day licenses in Cat 4 when they're triathletes that have been to the Olympics...

    But actually, she did NOT stick around for awards, hahaha.

    Someone made the humidity comment, not sure if it was for me... I lived in New Jersey for 3 years, so luckily I have an idea on how to barely function in humidity It shall be a great time...

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