Reprinted with permission from Boulder Cycle Sport
The 2017 Oskar Blues Old Man Winter Rally (OMW) is just around the corner! We sat down with Chris Baddick, pro mountain biker and 2 time OMW podium finisher, to get his take.
Don’t forget Boulder Cycle Sport is a proud sponsor of OMW again this year! We are able to offer 10% registration, a mechanic on race day, a “snowflake” $500 gift card prize, and an exclusive discount on Scott gravel bikes.
How many years have you raced (and what course) and what was your best result?
I raced OMW in both 2015 (2nd place, 3 hrs 6 min) and 2016 (3rd place, 3 hrs 25 min). The course was the same 100k Long Course both years. The first year it was warm and dry. The roads were fast and Rowena trail, the only true off road section, was easily rideable. The second year was held just after a snowstorm. The dirt roads were covered in a couple of inches of slushy snow, and Rowena trail ended up being a run. The sun came out a little on the way back, creating an icy slush that covered everything in frozen mud.
What bikes have you raced on and what would you recommend? Any tire or component suggestions?
The course is well suited to a traditional CX bike or a newer gravel bike like the Scott Addict Gravel. I’ve raced on a Focus Mares Cyclocross bike both years. I’ve used Clement LAS 33mm tubular tires both years. The course is really smooth for the most part, so extra tread or cushioning isn’t needed. In 2016 the snow was so deep on Rowena that knobbier tires wouldn’t have helped, so I just stuck with the file treads. Most other riders are also on normal CX tires, with a few people choosing some extra traction with bigger tires.
I’ve used a double chainset each year I’ve done it. Having a big range of gears is helpful due to the steep climbs but also long fast flat sections. This year I’ll be on a single ring SRAM setup, but with a wider 11-40 cassette to make up the difference.
How did you handle your caloric and hydration needs for the rally? Were you self supported or did you utilize the OMW support stations?
The race isn’t actually too long, only about three hours, so I could survive on the food I brought with me. Due to the cold temperatures, I didn’t drink much either. The Boulder Cycle Sport van was at the top of Rowena and allowed me to take one extra bottle. So in total: three bottles of water and three or four packets of energy chews.
Any course beta for first timers?
Don’t be intimidated by the Rowena trail. It’s only a small chunk of the total route. The going doesn’t really get tough until you start heading up Linden on the way back towards Lyons. It’s here that would be easy to blow up. Concentrate on staying in your comfort zone here so you’ll have energy for the long slog back to Lyons.
What do you like best about the Old Man Winter event?
The race attracts all kinds of riders. Last year there were Tour de France roadies, Cyclocross World Championships riders, and MTB World Cup riders, all lining up alongside local riders out for a good time. The start line atmosphere is so relaxed that it almost seemed a surprise when the whistle blew for the start. Riding in such a big group makes the opening miles more of a social occasion than a race. It’s a good test of early season fitness, as well as an eye opener for many people of what terrain you can cover on a gravel/cx bike.