Since we all know it is all about the bike, Simon & I decided to see whether or not a cyclocross bike or a 29’er singlespeed is faster. The loop in question is from the trailhead by the ice cream cone factory (best smelling place on earth) back to where the trail hits the pavement on Opal. This takes you around the airport, and if I had to guess, I would say it is maybe 5K. The course itself probably favors each bike equally, with an equal mix of fast hardpack, technical hardpack, & technical rocky singletrack.
I was piloting the Redline Pro Disc with what I believe are 36mm tires. Simon has his Kona Unit 29, with much bigger tires and a RockShox Reba fork. I have 18 speeds. He has one.
I took off to an early lead on the shale hardpack, pushing out comfortably on the hardpack dirt. I was maintaining a good clip and extending my lead as Simon tried to shortcut on the singletrack without luck. I was cruising along, and were it not for the holdover from the heavy rains last week, I would have come to the singletrack with a commanding lead. However, in an effort to stay the fastest line, I suffered a moment of indecision about whether or not to blaze through the puddle and mud or try to hook up and around it. Of course, he who hesitates loses (or something like that), and I ended up splatted sideways halfway in the muck and halfway out. After a quick remount, I suddenly caught a glimpse of Captain Q. closing fast. My once comfy lead had shrank.
My lead ebbed and flowed with the terrain, losing time in the loose dirt where the motocross bikes had softened up the dirt, then gaining time when hardpack hit. After a particularly long stretch of loose stuff, Simon pulled level, but then I managed to pull away a bit leading into the tough stretch of uphill singletrack. I made it about 1/4 of the way up, before my total lack of bike handling skills caught up to me. I was then forced to run the rest in my road shoes, losing a fair bit of time. I remounted and started the semi-tricky gravel descent, with Simon now well in the lead. As I bounced down the gravel, I noticed that the front wheel seemed to be moving more than the rest of the bike was, as if I had a shock up front. Of course, I did not, and realized that what my front skewer was loose and that I was in danger of losing my front wheel, something which, even in the heat of racing, I knew would end badly. So I stopped for a third time and tightened the skewer.
In a show of blatant mockery, Simon made his way up the home stretch giving the occassionally victory salute. He would later claim to be waiting to keep things interesting, but I think that was just bold talk. After finally making it down the tricky descent, I put the power down and managed to close rapidly, coming tip-to-tail with Captain Q as we hooked around the rocks leading us back to pavement. Simon rolled over a bike length ahead to claim the first of what will clearly be many duels on this stretch.
Score after the first round:
Captain Q & his Unit 29: 1
Rappstar & his Redline Disc: 0