Monday, July 18, 2016

Prep for Butte

The Butte 100 mountain bike race is in two weeks, on July 30th. For the most part I did a good job of riding and training this year, and race season started out pretty well. Then, in June I had that foot injury and had to spend a few weeks sitting on the couch. As soon as I was feeling good enough to ride again, some family came to visit, we went to Canada, and then I had a wedding to go to. So there was basically 2 weeks of hanging out and drinking beer after 2 weeks of sitting on the couch. Not really the training I wanted to get in before Butte. Thankfully, I did still manage to get a reasonable amount of riding in once my foot started feeling ok, have cut down on the beer and junk, and last week got in a whole bunch of riding, so I'm starting to feel like I'll be alright. I'll get in a few more good rides this week and then it's time to taper.

So my body is about as ready as it's going to get. The bike needs a little work but is pretty much ok to race as is. I have a rebuild kit coming for my fork, and it would be nice to get the brakes bled, and the front tire is starting to show a little wear, but otherwise everything should be fine. I really wanted to convert to 1x11, but the cassette I want to use is not going to be available yet. There's no XD driver available for my hub (since it's like 4 years old now, ancient in mtb terms I guess), so I can't go with Sram's 10-42, or new 10-50 12-speed systems. When you look at gear inch charts, you see there is a bit of a compromise with 10-42, and even more with 11-42, which was about my only option. Thankfully, shimano has an 11-46 cassette on the way which will work with my hub and give me a gearing range I can work with.

My current low gear is 26x36, which in the 2x world is still fairly tall. Most 2x bikes have 24/38 or even 22/36t chainrings where mine are 26/39. Add in 29" wheels and it's a little tough on those long steep climbs like the ride to Stuart Peak or Sheep mountain. Butte has plenty of climbing, and you have to pace yourself, so it's important to be able to spin at a reasonable cadence. Additionally, there are faster road sections where being able to pedal at 20+ mph will shave off a good amount of time. So on an 11-42 1x cassette, in order to match my current low gear, I would need to use a 30t chainring. but on the other end 30x11 is not very tall. A 32t would be harder to pedal and not very much faster. With an 11-46 cassette though, I can use a 34t ring and only lose a little on each end. Unfortunately, the ETA for it is august 5th. So I might as well just run my current 2x into the ground for butte. Here are the gear inches for a 29x2.2" tire, in order, of the ratios I mentioned:

24x36: 19.4
32x46: 20.2
30x42: 20.5
26x36: 20.8
34x46: 21.4
32x42: 22.0
34x42: 23.4

So there are all of my gearing options, basically. It seems to me that a 34t ring combined with the 11-46 cassette is going to be the best option. Gives me a reasonable tall gear and only gives up a little bit over what I currently have on the low end. That 10-50 sure would be nice though, with a 36t ring I would have almost exactly the same gear on both ends as I do now, but only one shifter.

I guess I didn't need that big tangent on gearing, but it is a good idea to look at a gearing chart and realize what you are actually going to have when considering a 1x setup, like many new bikes come with. I think the average person, when faced with a 10- or 11-42 cassette, is actually going to want a 28 or 30t chainring. The full suspension Kona I'd like to get comes with a 34t ring and 11-42 cassette. Have fun riding to sheep on that if you're not 150lbs and in race shape.

Ok, gearing chat done. The other thing I need to worry about is nutrition, since it was my downfall the last time. Firstly, little/no candy, and none of the hammer heed they provide at aid stations. I had an upset stomach and couldn't eat much, and I think those two things were the main cause. Clif shot blocks I think will be better since they use maltodextrin and cane syrup instead of hfcs. I go through a good amount of them on regular rides so they should work out. Then my usual lara and kind bars, electrolytes in pill form, and what I feel like at the aid stations, like nuts, fruit, and pb&j sandwiches. The only other thing I can think of bring are some potato chips and beef jerky, since I hear starches and protein and amino acids are important to get in on long endurance type efforts.

Well, that's about it. wish me luck. Yesterday I rode up to the wilderness boundary on the Stuart peak trail and felt pretty good about it, even after a huge week of riding, so that's a good sign I think.

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