Insider’s Guide to Hustle + Flow
So you’re racing the Hustle + Flow, and want to know the secrets of success? Here are a couple insider tips to consider when you’re planning your race strategy:
Plan on having fun, first and foremost. The point of any race is to win, of course, but at the Hustle + Flow, having fun is the most important goal. This is a crazy race- road bikes and DH bikes together?- and getting anal retentive about it defeats the purpose.
Don’t forget the Super-D. Our statistical analysis of last year’s race times showed that the race was won or lost in the Super-D leg. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a strong Super-D rider who’s comfortable with really, really, really technical trails. The difference between a fast Super-D leg and a slow one at last year’s race was about a minute and a half- a MUCH larger margin than in any of the other legs. Here’s how the numbers work out- XC- 47 seconds difference between the second fastest and second slowest competitors, Pump track- 8 seconds, DH- 6 seconds, Road- 13 seconds, Super-D- 1 minute 19 seconds. So as you can see, Super-D is the “make or break” leg of the race. The Super-D leg has a net elevation drop of around 160 feet, and any climbing is short, but requires power and skill. It’s not a NORBA-style Super-D course, where there’s smooth climbing and fast descending. Here, you start off descending some pretty gnarly stuff, flatten out in the middle section with some tight turns and slight rises, then hit a series of downhill rock gardens followed by slight (2-3 pedal stroke) climbs, and a fast contouring trail to the end of the leg. Technical skill wins over aerobic capacity on this leg, although you obviously have to be able to pedal.
A full-on DH bike is not necessary, but it’s not a detriment either. Last year, solo winner Juergen Beneke turned in a 57 second DH run, which was tied for the fastest run down that leg of the course. Juergen was on a 5″ travel trailbike, the rider he tied was on a full-on Intense M3 DH rig. The lesson here- if you’ve got World Cup skills, you can be fast down the course on an all-mountain bike. But riding a big bike is not a detriment to your time, either. However, if you choose to ride a hardtail, get ready to walk significant sections of the DH leg. It is tough on a hardtail slalom bike, and it is downright DEADLY on a hardtail XC bike. We saw a few guys racing solo on hardtail XC bikes last year, and every one of them were shouldering their bikes ‘cross style and picking their way down sections of the DH course. It is THAT tough.
Warming up. There are paved paths through the park that you can ride for warm-up, and if you’re looking for a bit of trail-riding, the Wonderwall trail is not used in the race course and will give you a nice little technical workout. If you’re looking for some wind-sprints, try the Harlem River greenway which runs along the river on the other side of Harlem River Drive. The entrance to the greenway is right there where Harlem River Drive meets Dyckman Street.
Cooling down. This year we don’t have a movie to premiere later in the evening as we did last year (nothing great is coming out this year right now, unfortunately- the movies are coming out later in June). So we’re going to hold the awards ceremony on-site after the race, and afterward everyone should plan on hanging around for a killer session in the jump park. We’ve got some internationally-known pros who plan on stopping by, so there will be plenty to see.
Last year’s Hustle + Flow was the highlight of many folks’ race calendars- an event that puts the fun back in racing. We crank up the tunes, ride like hell, scream and shout, throw down, and have a blast. Come on out and join us!