Wednesday, April 27

Droop, There It Is: Pt 2

I can't believe it was that long ago, but remember when I wrote that post/whined about droopers being used/not used at the highest level in UCI XCO racing?   August 2014.  That long ago.  Well, this past weekend, Julien Absalon got on the Elite Men's podium with a drooper post.

Here's Julien looking resplendent while rolling droopy.

photo cred: AMB Mag
His bike, being all non-droopy and forlorn.

Significant?  Indeed.  Not the first time an Elite rider got on the podium with a drooper though, as Tanja Zakelj drooped her way to second in Windham in 2014.

Absalon needs to pull out all the stops to shut down Nino Schurter's advantage going downhill.  Nino's got crazy talent, and he's very entertaining to watch.  He's like the dirt version of Peter Sagan (assuming Peter Sagan doesn't become the dirt version of Peter Sagan himself*... or not).  I mean, people love Nino so much that they watch his crosspump videos.

Crosspumpers love watching other crosspumpers crosspump.

Absalon has always been able to challenge Schurter on the climbs.  What's amazing is that this past weekend in Cairns he finished only 27 seconds back in third place after he flatted, lost an Allen key in the pits while addressing the issue, and spent up to a minute looking for it?!?!

One can say that had he caught Schurter, the gauntlet woulda been thrown down, and Nino woulda unleashed his crosspump super powers.  If you watched the race unfold, he was having quite a good time throwing whips over the doubles once he had a decent lead established.  Let's just say he had some energy to spare... but still?

This is what I said almost two years ago:

"... say you are a rider who is a strong climber but lacks the ability to really rail descents and tackle the gnar at speed. Drop the post, and now you're changing your approach on turns and getting your weight back in the nasty stuff."

Nino's bike is off the deep end when it comes to being highly specialized (not Specialized) for his needs.  27.5" Dugast tubulars, Twinloc on-the-fly adjustable suspension travel... he was the only rider on SRAM's new 12 speed Eagle drivetrain.  He's not afraid to do what he feels right for him to have the best bikecycle possible to make great bike race.

Absalon is aware of where he is losing time AND he's willing embrace some technology that others won't even consider because of weight (or lack of understanding).  If you don't know your history, this is amazing, being that long after the other pros had gone to disc brakes, he clung to V-brakes like a lobbyist clings to a cause (as long as there's a lot of money attached to it).

And Nino's feels on droppers (as of right now, from BikeRadar):

"All the dropper posts you get are too heavy or just not for cross country," he goes on. "I’m sure the future will have these, but they’re (currently) too slow, too long and you need to put your body weight on them. For real cross country they must be faster, lighter, easier and shorter."

I realize he's going to be (slightly) limited in which drooper he might be allowed to use and/or test based on sponsorship.  To say they're too slow (c'mon, I've ridden some real taint blasters), too long (some are as short as 50mm) and the "body weight" thing?  Spend enough time on a drooper and it all becomes second nature.  I know a fair amount of people who've only tried them for a short period of time and written them off entirely.  They take some getting used to, and I truly believe until you ride in a place where they really shine, you'll have trouble catching on.

But when you do give it a chance, it becomes as acceptable as tubeless wheels/tires, disc brakes and all manner of other things that we just take for granted now.

I know he was the 2008 World Junior mountain bike champion already, so pipe down.


Anonymous said...

It's quite possible Julien's new girlfriend talked him into droooping.

jacobtubbs said...

I'm not a strong climber but do ride more XC-style stuff than DH / Endurobro stuff and drooping has been an absolute game-changer for me. Shortening the stem and dropping the seat has allowed me to rally and have fun on stuff at Breck Epic and in Pisgah that previously would've scared the poop out of me. I'm running a slow, heavy-ish 27.2 KS LEV but it's still absolutely worth the extra poundage just because of the increased smile-per-mile factor.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the time I Realized I needed it through a section.....I've past it ar already.....