Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend I made my mind up that I am going to ride the Devil's Backbone Mountain Cross event again this year. That was day 93 days out from the event and I have started to get ready.
I wish that I had pulled the trigger months earlier on getting my Waltworks cyclocross built for this event, but I was a little late in doing that. The cross bike is the weapon of choice for this event.
So just like last year I will be riding my Bontrager. I have started training on the fire roads in Pocahontas State Park. I can make a nice 23 mile ride without crossing the stream at the base of the dam. One of the guys on the local forum said "That not the same type of fire roads. That not going to help." Well, I think it does and this is what I have learn so far.
1)Fire road riding (aka gravel grinder) can be as easy or hard as you want to make it. It doesn't have to be single track to be hard.
2)Riding up a hill it is best to ride in the middle of the trail and not where truck tires have made tracks. I find that when I have to ride out of the saddle if I ride in the track my wheel will loose traction. The rocks are loose in this area. If you ride in the middle the rocks will stay in place and this is helped by the grass.
3) If it has rain or the grass is wet, it is best to ride in the tracks on a downhill. This is because your front tire will pick-up water and dirt and it will get in your eye every time.
4) Square off curves or corners. Remember back in school, the shortest distance between to points is a straight line. There can be some danger to this as I found out the other morning when I almost hit a tree.
5) Test different tires. I have been running WTB Velociraptors and they are a great XC tire but I felt that they are slow on the fire roads. So the other day I change them out for a set of Bontrager Connection tires. I used these last year during the DB event and they did a good job. They are 1.6 in and I run them at about 45lbs. The difference in the change was about 14 minutes off my time over 23 miles. I think that is a big difference! But I don't know if this is the best tire for the job. That is a course made up of 50% road and 50% gravel/dirt roads. So if you know of a better tire let me know.
I will need to step the training up a bit and on Father's Day I will head to the mountains for some hill training. Over the next couple of days I will plan out the route and I will post on the blog.