This weekend I rocked the Intense Factory Alloy 20 on The Fix pump track, and the results were surprising.
If you apply the correct force to a solid patch of ground, IT’S ON!
I’ve had the sweet new 20″ for about a week, and I’ve ridden it three times. This bike is unbelievably quick and responsive. It rewards perfect timing with turbo braaap. Imperfect timing … uh, never mind.
Where: The Fix pump track, Boulder, CO. This track is neither smooth nor perfectly built. When I rode the 20 there this week, I was forcing it, and the rocks were beating me to death.
Protocol: 10 laps clockwise with my right foot forward. One minute rest. 10 laps counterclockwise with my left foot forward. One minute rest. Repeat five times for a total of 100 laps.
20 vs. 26: When I figure this out fully, I will publish diagrams galore. For now I’ll say the 20 gives you a smaller but more focused window of pump. The backsides start and end a bit sooner than with 26″ wheels. Small wheels force you to be even more pro-active, which is a good thing.
The experience: One great thing about endurance pump track riding — it forces you to relax and find smoothness. I fought the bike at first, but after 20 laps or so I relaxed and found my timing. I kept my weight in my feet and tried to keep my arms loose unless they were pulling or pushing. Cool: I found some nice pump on a few little bumps that I’d been avoiding. One good corner-hop-to-roller-backside and the bike was up to mach speed. Turbo braaap.
The results: I didn’t feel fast, but — dude — the stopwatch said my riding time was only 26 minutes. My BMX cruiser time was 33 minutes. My last P.3 time was 35 minutes.
Why? There are a million variables, but that 20″ time blows everything else out of the water. Possible explanations:
– Conditions? The track was hardpacked and fast today. But it usually is.
– Fitness? It’s the end of the summer, and I feel decent. But I’m usually about the same, pump-wise.
– Skill? I’ve learned A TON working with top racers on the BMX book, but I think I’m still in the phase where the new knowledge is balling me up. It isn’t automatic yet.
– Longer recovery? I usually rest 30-40 seconds between sets. Today I gave myself a full minute of recovery. BMX coach Greg Romero, whose athletes earned two medals at the Olympics, says longer recoveries are required for high-intensity work. The longer rest felt good, but I was still beat at the end — and the total time, including rest, was still lower than with the other bikes.
– The bike? That is the clearest variable. Are 20s just plain faster than 24s and 26s? The experiments will continue …
For the record:
Intense 20 : Sept. 7, 2008
Intense Cruiser : Feb. 3, 2008
P.3 : July 23, 2007
Total: 41 minutes
Rest: 6 minutes
Riding: 35 minutes