What is the best bike for IC? If you’ve been here before, well, we’ve something new for you to consider.
We love ‘cross bikes. We’ve been all about ‘cross bikes from the start. Every inch of IC is rideable on a cross bike (okay except that part of that new run up on Horse Path where we’ll need to belay you, but other than that….). But, we’ve been onto the fun and adventure of this for a looooonnnng time and the best bike out there all this time has been a ‘cross rig. Recently we’re seeing wide interest from others in taking one bike and doing all sorts of things with it. Some mags are calling them “all-road” or “multi-surface.” “Enduroad” has been thrown around too. In the last two or three years, from the Salsa Warbird to the GT Grade to the Cannondale Slate, there has been a rush of interesting and unique designs that may supplant a ‘cross bike as the best option for Iron Cross. We suppose we’ll all know more as these bikes begin to take their place on the start line of the Iron Cross Race too. It is a new mash up that fits what we do really well – and we’re glad everyone has caught onto the fun!
And, as we’ve said, 29ers didn’t exist when we launched this thing and properly set up they make a statement as the “best choice.” A slightly narrower tire on a 29er with a rigid or lock out fork will roll really well at IC. Of course the introduction of discs to cross bikes blurs the lines further as discs combat one of the few shortcomings of a cross bike at IC; how do you slow the damn things down on some rippin’ fast descents??
So what is best?
Iron Cross throws everything at you. Dirt. Pavement. Singletrack. Gravel. Choose wisely. Choose what is best for you. Choose what you have hanging in the garage. But make sure you do this on a ‘cross bike at least once ’cause that is the way is should be experienced. Plus, that is how Three Peaks makes ’em ride it and we don’t want us ‘Mericans bein’ showed up by a bunch of Brits.
What tires should I run? How about pressure? You know what opinions are like right? Sorry, did I just answer a question with a question? I did it again! Me, I’d run small knobs that roll fast on a tire with a big-ish casing. We’ve seen people be successful on file tread and with the smoking fast paved descents in the Williamsport course that style tire could be a better choice than ever.
The best tire related advice we can give is, “Run NoTubes.” They didn’t name their wheels after the Iron Cross race by coincidence. Tubeless is ideal for IC. When we first set this thing up we were pinching tires and slicing open tubulars all over the place. NoTubes takes care of an awful lot of those issues. And you run higher than “short race” pressure with most at 45+ psi depending on weight. Does it mean you have no chance of flatting? No there’s stuff out there that’ll git cha. But NoTubing up is definitely something we wholeheartedly recommend and would even if they weren’t one of our best friends.
What parts and tools should I carry with me? Multi-tool. Chain link. 2 tubes. Mini-pump. Knowledge how to use all of it. At least. A bottle opener in case you run into any trail fairies may be appropriate…though they’ll have you covered at Larry’s Tavern.
FOOD AND FUEL
Checkpoints/How should I plan to fuel and hydrate? While Larry’s Tavern is always a great answer to both of these queries there is probably a better one for you in terms of your overall success on the day. Lets talk Checkpoints (CPs).
CP1 miles will be stocked primarily with fluids for you and a small selection of food. It comes early on in the course and many of you will likely blow through it. We realize that the front of the group is more likely to ignore this stop and the rear of the field and we’re preparing for you accordingly. There will be lots of fluid available at this checkpoint should you need a refill. EMT support will be stationed at CP1 for the first part of the day and then move to CP3.
Do not expect bottle handups at any CP, instead plan to stop and have a nice volunteer help you. Be sure to say “Please” and “Thank you so much for giving up your time to come out here and help us.”
Checkpoint 2 and 3 – Fully stocked aid stations. We’ll have lots there for you to nosh on. You can also send a bag of goodies out.
You may prepare two drop bags, one for CP2 and one for CP3. If you want to do these up ahead of time place your food, drink, magic power, teddy bear, etc in a 1 gallon ziplock. Again, you make one for CP2 and one for CP3. Drop bags will not be available at CP1.
Bottles or Hydration Pack? We think the new course is great for bottles and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to refill at the CPs on the course. Hydration packs are always popular though so go with what works for you.
On-course personal support – We do not allow you to have “private” support on course as it contributes to far too much traffic on roads already taxed by the race and other users. Plus it is unfair. If you have someone who wants to support you at the event they may go to a CP and help at that CP and while there may support you. Instances of private support will result in a time penalty for the first offense and a DQ for the second.
Map above shows locations of aid stations on 2015 course. With the addition of some new course options these will change slightly in 2016 (but not by a ton of distance).
What’s up in and around Williamsport?
SCAVENGER HUNT And we have that Family Friendly Scavenger Hunt happening on race day too! Grab the fam and pick up your list starting at 9:30 through 10:15. It is 7 miles in length, and should be completed in 1.5 to 2.5 hours. And don’t worry, we’ve included a coffee shop stop. New for 2016 will be a walking version of the scavenger hunt too.
Some good spots to check out:
Mile 0.0 – the Start line of course!
Mile 13.5-14 and the top of the Rt 44 climb (ouch!)
Mile 24-29 fun singletrack, nice place for a hike
Mile 35-37 Walters Road doubletrack switchbacks
Mile 45 Top of the “run-up” and Larry’s Tavern is close
Mile 65 The finish line (yay!) and just past it at the Brickyard (tell your racer you’ll meet ’em at the bar!)
A few rules –
– Park on one side of gravel roads ONLY – yes, that may mean you have to walk to get a spot to watch. This keeps roads open for the race and other vehicles and keeps DCNR happy.
– Pay attention to and listen to course marshals and volunteers – if they ask you to do something do it right away and with a big smile!
You’ll find workstations and some supplies at each of the checkpoints around the course. Country Ski and Sport and The Bicycle Center will helping out with the event this year with CP support and last minute prep at the start line.