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Leesville Gap anyone? Tire selection?(3 posts)

Leesville Gap anyone? Tire selection?shirt
Jul 8, 2003 1:20 PM
I'll be doing this on Saturday and it's hard to tell from the course description if I should mount some 25s or even 28s. How much of the course is dirt/gravel? When they say pavement is 'fair to bad,' does that mean it's mostly bad?

btw, did Davis last weekend and got 8th in a full field. On one hand it's frustrating to get 8th and be less than a bike length from the winner, on the other I'm happy I survived a 3,4,5 race with the amount of training i've been doing...
re: Leesville Gap anyone? Tire selection?Mr Good
Jul 8, 2003 7:27 PM
Leesville has gravel, rough roads with potholes, and unpaved roads. But the last half or third of the race is on decent pavement, so it's a toss up. I've raced it on fresh 23's with good tread and did fine, but others flatted around me. I'd use 23's and wear gloves to protect against road shock through the bars. If you're worried about flatting maybe go with 25's. Check your pressure race morning. I would fill 'em up to avoid pinch flats...110 or 120 depending on your weight.

A bigger concern at Leesville is the heat and terrain. Last two years were 100 degrees, and you'll be busting ass over rolling terrain on crap roads. It's a great race. One big 65 or 70 mile loop with a big climb.

The climb is tough, but it comes about 15 miles into the race. Even if you don't make it into the lead group it's okay. Chase groups form and have another 40 miles or so to catch the leaders. The climb is hard but the real hard stuff comes after while chasing on the endless rollers through the heat.

I'd recommend the following:
--carry lots of drink. There is a neutral water feed near the end of the race. It's far too late. And any bottles in your cages will probably pop out on the rough roads before this so bend your bottle cages in to be tight. I start with two in the cages and two in jersey pockets.

--Unless you are a skinny super-climber don't try to be first over the hill. If you really blow up on this hill you won't recover for the rest of the race. It's okay to ride with the first chase group or the main pack. After the hill everyone hammers, the pack strings out and pacelines form, then the chase is on. Be ready for this. Riders are caught and passed after the hill. The lead group is often caught and new attacks and groups form. So it's often better to be in the second group over the hill to conserve some energy for what's to come. (For this same reason, don't give up no matter what your position is. If you fall in with a good group you can ride in a fast paceline and pass whole groups of blown riders after the hill.)

--The final third of this race is on the flats, in terrible heat, usually with some headwind, too. The end can have all kinds of sprinter's games and team tactics (depending on who you're with). Try to save something for the finish.

--Lots of people bonk and/or get dehydrated in this race. It is epic. People drag themselves in looking half-dead. So do all the race-prep things you're supposed to do. You know, eat a good breakfast, arrive early, be mentally prepared, eat and drink on the bike, etc.

--Bring a towel and bar of soap. The high school where you park opens their locker rooms so you can shower afterwards...you'll need it after the dust, dirt, and heat exhaustion. (I really hope you have a cool, overcast day, but the weather report says a high of 100 to 107 up there for the weekend. Carry extra drink.)

--Let us know how you did!
That was really good, Mr. Good!shirt
Jul 9, 2003 10:10 AM
Thanks for all the tips, that really helps. I'll definitely follow your advice for the climb. Regarding the heat, I have three words: I'm from Redding.