Cross, Dropbar 29er and MTB Comparison

Just for fun.

#1. Flat gravel section, smooth and non-technical.

Gravel SectionGravel Section Graph

#2. Climbing, somewhat technical with smooth straight sections.

CCW Clockwise UpCCW Clockwise Up Graph

#3. Descending, technical with rocky sections and roots in certain sections.

Outerloop Over Columns CWOuterloop Over Columns CW Graph

Race Report: 2017 Voodoo All-a-toona

I was not prepared for the sheer amount of actual riding this course contained. It’s pretty much 100% rocks, roots, technical features, berms, corners, 180 degree corners and climbing/descending.

After my race I felt pretty negative about the whole thing but when I saw my overall placing I felt a lot better. This was a hard race for me but also for everyone else as well. Definitely a race to bring a camelbak, there were so few sections to take hand off for drinking or eating. I lost a ton of time after falling too far behind in my nutrition. Still a good ride and I’m glad I went (so I never have to go back again).

Race Report: 2017 Big Ring Challenge

I had an ok race. Mostly motivation issues and poor recovery the week leading to the race. However, the drive up to the race is an absolute blast – state route 75 turns into state route 17 the Unicoi Turnpike and it’s just switchbacks and full throttle up and over the mountain. A lot of fun and a nice surprise on the way to the race.

Anyway, the race was a lot of fun, I came in 4/5 and rode with the same sandbaggers as most of the other mountain bike races I did. I had some issues with my crank arm loosening up as I had a bad landing crossing the log-filled rut near the start finish but it didn’t matter as really I was just under-rested and didn’t have a good race.

Still, always glad I went.

2017 Dirty Spokes 3 hours of Fort Yargo Race Report

How was the race?


Amazing. This is dumb but I’ve been watching MTB eliminator races on youtube and seeing expert riders and how they ride and race has really helped me internalize the body position and bike position for racing. Especially racing when it’s wet. I had a really good race, riding super fast with just enough water and food to make it to the end. It was also super helpful to just ride 2-3 minutes of the course as fast as possible to get my brain into racing mode. I came in a solid fourth, not sure I could have done much to improve. I didn’t crash and got a good starting position but I bet there I could have made up 2-3 minutes and moved to second with some more aggressive riding and a better nutrition strategy, I think clif bars take to long to get into my system.

How was the course?


It had rained the day/night before and the drive to the venue was foggy and cool so I was a little apprehensive as the slant six tires on my bike aren’t really cut-out for mud. Thank fully Fort Yargo is well developed so it was only slick in a few sports while the rest of the course was actually pretty firm and tacky. It got better over the course of the race as it dried out and the looser, wetter top sections were burned away by riders. I did have a pretty surprising two wheel drift in the first five minutes or so, kept it level but spiked my heartrate pretty good. But really Fort Yargo is a great course, just enough elevation to keep it interesting, lost of twisty-turnys with good traction and a nice flat speedway section.

What did you ride?

2016 Raleigh Tekoa Comp. The bike was perfect, no complaints. It’s so fast. I had only the most minor back pain. Otherwise the bike fit exactly how I wanted, reach, position just felt like everything was set exactly perfect for this race.


Stock gearing, 36/22 in the front and 11-36 in the rear. I never shifted out of the big ring.


Stock Kenda Slant Six 29×2.2 they handled the damp conditions really well.

What’d you eat?

Regular breakfast but 3 pretzels now instead of 4. Had the clif bar 30 minutes  before the start and then during the race I had one pack if shot blocks,  and one (two?) clif bar(s). This race is flatter with less roots and almost no rocks so there were a few eating sections. I do think I need a quicker digesting food for shorter races. Clif bars feel like they don’t start burning for 10-15 maybe 20 minutes and that’s too long in a race.


The cooler weather and lack of sun at the start saved me. I only took one big bottle and one baby bottle. 50 ounces or so of water. I had just enough to finish, like starting to panic and get dry mouth but still making good power.

How was the week leading up to the race?


Tired. The season was getting long so I didn’t do too much. Went for a few hikes and was walking every day but my riding was pretty hard. Just worn down from racing I think. The week after Big Frog I could only muster two rides for like 4 hours. But I rode my monstercross bike once and then just on the race bike. I’ve been really working on technique and I think it shows. My pace this year in the damp was significantly faster than last year on the same course in the dry.

Where’d you start?

Third row, I went right to the start once the 6 hour racers left. I had a good position but lost a few spots on the pavement sprint but once on the singletrack I was in a good spot and had fast, competent racers right ahead of me that were taking good lines and were easy to follow.

How’d you do?

4/13, 1 minute out of 3rd, 3 minutes out of 2nd and 9 minutes out of 1st. So I was pretty happy with that result.


Race Report – 2017 Big Frog 65

How was the race?

Oof. Cohutta is always so hard. This course destroyed me. Legs were done, cramps, foot pain and just crushed. My upper body was also beat up. I fell off a cliff on a huge rock slab but even without that the descents down Big Frog are so fast and rough it’s like being in a blender. My chain snapped in the first singletrack section and I lost 7-8 minutes fixing it, probably 3-4 getting back up the cliff. So in short, it was hot and hard and expensive. I’m really glad I went.


How was the course?

Ridiculous. You ever seen doubletrack that is 10-15 feet wide, flat and literally side-to-side roots? For several hundred yards? Some of the singletrack was amazing. Obviously there’s a lot of climbing a lot of descending and a lot of traffic. I got stuck behind two racers on the singletrack again but it didn’t matter really I guess. Still think with a little more smart racing I could have taken 15-20 minutes off my time. Following someone else on singletrack is always harder than just riding alone.

It was hot and the course is set-up so that you do the bulk of the climbing on the way back when it’s the hottest and hardest. I went out too hard on the gravel and paid later with blown legs. I think next year I’m just going to leave my big ring at home. Seriously it just kills your legs later. Better to sit in on the downhill. This course is also heavily favored for flat-bars. I lost a lot of time riding drop bars as the descents are technical and you need a lot of leverage to move laterally on the road at speed to avoid roots, rocks and ruts. Next year I’m just riding a mountain bike.

What did you ride?

Same bike but it really let me down with the broken chain and I think also the derailleur hanger is bent as I had chain skipping issues as well as shifting issues pretty much all day. It was also creaking up a storm on the singletrack, not sure if it was the saddle, seatpost clamp or BB but it was annoying and kinda embarrassing.


39/26 with 11-34 9 speed. It worked great. Never ran out of gears but really worked the 26/34. There weren’t any large/loose sections so I was worried for nothing.


Continental Race King 2.2 in the rear and Michelin Wild Race’r 2.25 in the front. I actually really liked the Wild Race’r on the single track. The instant grip worked well. I was had a lot of negative things to say earlier but I think the tire is a good MTB tire.

What’d you eat and what’d you drink?

Same breakfast as always. During the race I drank as much water as I could stomach, a bunch of Heed from the aid stations as well as probably 20 ounces of coke, a handful of pretzel bites and four cliff bars. I need to take some mustard packets as I had severe cramps during the last two hours. I was never hungry but if there were less aid stations or they were more spread out I would have been in trouble as I had to stop and get water at each one. I only had 46 ounces of water on my bike. I’m not sure if I’d be faster carrying an additional 3-4 pounds of water but I bet I would be. I peed once at 7:50am and then not again until 6:00pm – it was really hot.

How was the week leading up to the race?’


Lots of rest and walking/hiking. My legs felt great on Saturday. I hiked the hills everyday but Friday where I just walked the flat trails down by the Chattahoochee. I felt a lot better than at Shake ‘n’ Brake.

Where’d you start?


Like 3/4 of the way back. It didn’t matter but it would have been nice to plan better and hit the singletrack alone or behind some male racers.

How’d you do?

Suffered some setbacks but managed to finish. I’m not sure 6+ hour races are for me. I hated everything after about hour 4 but was happy to finish and am really happy now and feel like I should do another one.


2017 Blankets Creek Dirty 30 Race Report


How was the course?

You know Blankets Creek. It’s steep and bermy and sandy and rocky and rooty with creek crossings and drop-ins and technical rock barriers and twisty-turny with pine straw and logs and narrows and even some flats. I’d say this course doesn’t suit my strengths but no shit it doesn’t suit anyone’s strengths. It’s just hard and fast and usually hot and sunny. All in all it’s pretty great, I always leave a little bit of myself in those woods.




What did you ride?


2016 Raleigh Tekoa Comp 29er stock except for the Crankbros Cobalt 2 720mm bars and Crankbros Cobalt 70mm stem. I like the bike a lot and it really handled the rocks and roots and elevation changes much better than the bike I rode last year but really this was only my fourth ride on the bike and I just haven’t ridden it enough to be really fast. I’m also just not as comfortable riding berms so I would bet I gave up anywhere from 3-7 minutes a lap just not being familiar with the bike and the berms. Oh well that’s what I get for not pre-riding the course, like ever.


Stock gearing, 36/22 in the front and 11-36 in the rear.


Stock Kenda Slant Six. Worked ok but I just didn’t handle the berms very well as they are hard and packed and the tires want to self-steer at high speeds. This is obviously corrected by training and familiarity but I wasn’t ready for it so I lost a lot of speed on each berm fighting the unfamiliar sensation. The tires/rim combo did take some serious rim strikes with no issues. Last year I pinch flatted and this year I had similar strikes with no issue.

What’d you eat?

Regular breakfast but 4 pretzels now instead of 5. Had the clif bar 30 minutes (actually 45 due to delay) before the start and then during the race I had one clif bar, one gel and one clif bar. It was super hard to eat – I think liquid nutrition might be something to try next time.


Not enough. It was hard to drink from my bottles since there are only a few straight, flat sections without roots or rocks. I also spent an hour standing in the sun training for a new job from 9-10 so I kinda came in a little drier than I liked.

How was the week leading up to the race?

Good, I walked a lot and hiked the trails near my apartment. Stretched a bunch, tried to eat ok but mostly didn’t and played a lot of Metal Gear Solid 5. I feel like I’m getting stronger but worried about getting enough volume. The ride I did on Tuesday was an absolute soul crusher, I’ve rarely ridden so hard for so long at Sope. I was blown on Tuesday so just chilled and hiked the rest of the week. Warmed up for a bike on Saturday before the race and was fine. I think once I get my racing legs riding the day before a race is not strictly necessary.


Where’d you start?

Like near the middle end, I didn’t do very well in the parking lot sprint.

How’d you do?

8 out of 21, better than last year! What’s funny is that for all the working and passing and getting passed I was the same place for both laps based on time. I spent the first lap and a half with anywhere from 3-6 riders trading places and following lines as the race was pretty packed. I did re-learn that aero is important even in mountain bike racing. On the mild downhills I would drop over my bars, tuck in and it was like hitting one of those yellow arrows in F-Zero – instant speed boost right to the rider ahead of me.

I knocked myself into solo riding after I biffed one of the rocky, rooty sections and had to unclip. I was the lead rider so it was pretty embarrassing but that’s fine. The three riders behind me took off and I was mostly solo from then on. I crashed again a little later on some roots as I just lost my brain for a bit. My left calf cramped like crazy but it ended up ok. Sometime after the first lap it was like my skin caught on fire. I was super-hot and felt like I ran out of oxygen and was just riding like shit. I think I blew-up the first lap and just didn’t realize it. The second lap was hard and I spent a lot of time in my baby ring just spinning up the climbs.

My back complained a little but I managed to stretch and keep it ok the whole time. Really by the end of the race my hands and shoulders were in way worse shape. Riding the whole of Blankets Creek is an intense full body experience.