Rubber Side Up 06 Oct 13, 2014


Photo by Jim Hicks

I think it’s safe to say, everyone who races cross wants to be able to do this. It shaves seconds off any gap the racer in front of you might have and puts more time between you and the racers behind.

Bunnyhopping barriers isn’t easy by any means, especially when they’re set at USAC’s max height of 40cm and on an uphill, but at yesterday’s race, I put all my skills learned from riding trails on my cross bike, MTB shredding and yes, the old days of FGFS to the test and hopped them every lap of the 50 minute B race. Here’s another angle.

Now that I’ve got my rhythm, I’m feeling even more confident and can’t wait to apply this useful skill to future races…

  • Robert

    How have the WTB NANO’s been for racing?

    • I really love these tires. 25psi up front, 30 rear during racing has been awesome.

      • naisemaj

        are they the newer 40’s? Did you have any issues with tubeless setup?

        • Oh, I’m not running them tubeless… HED Belgiums aren’t tubeless-ready.

          • naisemaj

            And that’s what I get for assuming, oh well. Nice job getting Rad!

          • Ian Stone

            Pacenti SL23’s are tubeless ready, cheaper and come in lower spoke counts than the Belgiums. They measure 24mm wide too.

          • carl bradtmiller

            what happened to the EA90s?

          • Gave them to a friend who needed wheels badly…

    • WTB Nanos are the best. I ride single track in the Santa Cruz Mountains 5 days a week with them!

  • Peter

    not to knock the skills John, but am I the only one who thinks that if riders can bunnyhop the barriers then the course managers have F’d up and put the barriers too far apart? IMHO, cyclocross *means* dismounts and running. The barriers should be set at a distance to make it impossible to hop, like less than a standard wheelbase.
    But, maybe that’s just me…….

    • USAC states the barriers should be between 3 and 4 meters apart. These were at 3 meters, barely enough time to hop – in fact, I’ve hopped barriers plenty of times before and these were the most difficult.

      I think your rationale is a bit off. To me, cross is about skills and fitness…

    • USAC states the barriers should be between 3 and 4 meters apart. These were at 3 meters, barely enough time to hop – in fact, I’ve hopped barriers plenty of times before and these were the most difficult.

      Spacing barriers less than a wheelbase is dangerous, which is why USAC has the min at 3m and max at 4m.

      I think your rationale is a bit off. To me, cross is about skills and fitness… If everyone else is running a runup, and I’m riding it, did the course managers f’ up too? Or do those racers lack the skills required to do so? What about people who can ride the sandpits?

      • Peter

        If some racers can ride a “run up”, then it’s not a run up, simple as that….it’s a steep section that some people can ride and some can’t. MTB races have lots of those. A real “run up” is unrideable by the most fit and skilled rider there is. IMHO a good CX course could (should) have a mix of both.

        I think that the barriers are one of the biggest things that set CX apart from other racing, STXC or crits for instance. If the obstacles are physically rideable then it starts to veer towards a different kind of race, and then you get into this kind of bickering BS: (which is the dumbest thing ever btw, if the course can be ridden faster on a MTB than a CX bike then it’s a poorly laid CX course).

        Anyway, if the barriers are placed as a way to separate the racers who can hop them from the racers who can’t, then sweet, they’re serving their purpose. But, personally, I’d prefer it if barriers were a test of racers’ ability to dismount/run/remount……because I’m cranky old guy and I don’t like bunny hopping on my CX bike ;)

        • Sure. But… USAC rules are rules. Just because you can’t hop them, doesn’t mean USAC should change their course designs, right? Seems a bit one-sided IMO. The barriers are spaced at 3-4 meters for the safety of racers running en masse. There are a lot of singletrack sections at Austin cross races and technical riders will pass a lot of people on those sections, which leads to people complaining about the race course and ultimately, those sections get removed.

          All of this is your opinion and I respect it, but if everything is kosher with the USAC guidelines, I’ll just mark your disdain up to a tad bit of jealousy? ;-)

          Seems kind of whiney, no?

          • Peter

            Oh sure, very nit picky (isn’t that what we do here? pick nits about the details of bikes, riding, gear, etc)….not whiny I hope (you can’t hear my tone over the internet)….yes, certainly some jealousy.

            I guess I should note that I generally dislike USAC and I pretty much hate UCI, I try not to race in any of their sanctioned events and I’m really psyched we have a local independent weekly CX and MTB series that keeps it super simple, fun, and cheap.

          • For sure! I love out local in sanctioned races – they’re way more fun and when I throw one, there’s way more sketchier shit than a few barriers on the course!


    • Scott

      If riders can bunnyhop the barriers then those individual riders are clearly too rad for the course and should be banned.
      But really, IMO bunnyhopping barriers is just another skill that sets certain riders apart from the pack, it makes the sport more dynamic by broadening the range of riding styles/techniques that a rider can employ and makes things more interesting for the spectators.

    • Leslie

      Just to note – iff anything, these barriers were insanely high. Definitely at the max. I usually have no problem gliding over barriers but I was absolutely trashed after 5 laps of feeling like I was literally jumping them.

  • Chris Valente

    If you watch any of the European races plenty of those guys hop. And I don’t think anyone can accuse the courses as being f’ed up or poorly laid out.

  • JIm Cameron

    Hi John, I’m looking to go 1×10 which seems to be your setup here. Have you opted for the cx1 derailler with the cx1 crankset or just the crankset itself? Cheers Jim

    • This is a Force kit with Rotor cranks and a Wolf Tooth ring. No special derailleur needed.

      • Jim Cameron

        Cool so you had no problems with chains bouncing off with the standard Force 10 rear derailler, especially with all the mad skill hopping.

    • Ian Stone

      You should use a MTB RD to keep that chain on tight and minimize the chain slap. I run the Sram X9 Type 2 RD with my Force/Wolf Tooth 1×10 setup.

      • Nah. It’s good as is. I’ll set the Stinner up with a clutch.

  • Leslie

    EVERY TIME you hopped in the first 2-3 laps, you gained ground of at least 2 dudes.

  • tony365

    Awesomeness! definitely need to do more trail riding myself, No way I am hopping those damn things anytime soon, I am gonna blame it on height though instead of my crappy bike skills, Cheers

  • Holler_Atcha_Soy

    While I definitely wish i could do this, I wouldn’t necessarily say that “It shaves seconds off any gap the racer in front of you might have and puts more time between you and the racers behind” is an explicit rule, otherwise all of the elite racers would certainly learn to do it. If you watch some of the fastest riders dismount, take two steps, and remount, you can see their forward momentum doesn’t noticeably change from when they entered the barriers, while riders who hop them, slow down to set up each hop. That being said, difference courses can surely benefit from one method or the other.

    • Those are elite racers you’re talking about. I’m speaking for the B and C classes…

      • Holler_Atcha_Soy

        gotcha, i thought you were making a general statement. And like I said … whatever’s fastest for you. Saturday some ass behind me gave me shit for running a muddy hill that he wanted to ride. Sure, i could have ridden it, but I knew I’d be faster on foot.

  • Craig Basler

    John, if you’re interested in running those rims tubeless, tape them up with 2 layers of Stan’s tape and try those tires with some Stan’s sealant. I believe you’ll find they work ok. I’m running a couple sets of non-tubeless specific rims as tubeless set-ups and they work fine. Tires that have taken longer to seat are Clements and Ritchey.

    • Kerry Nordstrom

      Gorilla Tape works far better in my experience. It conforms to rim bed surfaces better, has far better adhesion, and lays up thicker than Stan’s.

      • Craig Basler

        How’s the G-tape to remove if you need to perform a spoke repair? Not against it, per se, but also curious if it’s heavier than Stan’s. FWIW, I’ve never had any issues with Stan’s causing me to use anything else.

        • ENVE specs Gorilla tape with all their rims FWIW.

          • Craig Basler

            Learned something new (yet again on this site). Good deal!

  • kdawg

    Yay you John, looks like you’re as good at hopping barriers are you are having the last word and tooting your own horn…

  • Clark

    I agree that being able to ride obstacles adds an interesting dynamic to racing. Should I ride this one, or run it? How much extra energy will I have to exert to grind up this hill or jump these barriers? Can I ride this feature in traffic, or is it safer to run in case things slow down in front of me? At what point in the race am I too tired to light such a match? All questions worth pondering on a course-by-course basis.

    The distinction between 4/5 and 3/4 fields and elites is an important one too. I think hopping is a much bigger advantage against greener riders (my roadie included) who don’t have their remount dialed. Against a more skilled rider, the ride vs run gap will narrow for sure.

    If the barriers were higher, or closer together, or the rules said you had to run them, then CX would make it clear who was the best at that skill. But as it is, racers have a choice, and I think that makes it far more nuanced and interesting.