Cross-country pro Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher) swaps to drop bars when the mountain bike season is over, and this year she has a new rig to compete on.
Team sponsor Gary Fisher has supplied the 29-year-old Boulder, Colorado, resident with a new Presidio cyclo-cross bike to replace her now-defunct Lemond Poprad.
Keen eyes will notice a strong resemblance between the two beneath the paint. Indeed, they are practically carbon copies, with the same TIG-welded True Temper OX Platinum steel construction, identical dropouts and cable routing, and even the same geometry.
However, Irmiger’s bike is markedly lighter than her old steed thanks to a higher-end spec. Last season’s aluminium fork has been upgraded to a carbon unit and the ageing Shimano bits have been traded in for SRAM Rival – technically the entry-level road group from the Chicago company but still nearly on-par performance-wise with the top-end Red package.
Like many ‘cross racers, Irmiger uses a single front chainring for its lighter weight and increased reliability, especially in bad weather. “In general, anything in a ‘cross race that might require an easier gear is a run-up anyway,” she says. Rolling stock is provided by Bontrager Race X Lite aluminum tubulars and Tufo Flexus tires which provide a little extra bite for Colorado's typically hardpacked course conditions.
The rig is decked out with an assortment of other Bontrager gear, Cane Creek cantilever brakes and top-mount levers, and Irmiger’s tried-and-true Crankbrothers Eggbeater 4Ti pedals. Total weight is a reasonable – though not particularly feathery - 8.19kg (18.06lb).
Some of Irmiger’s setup is decidedly more unusual, though the differences should perhaps come as no surprise given her mountain bike roots. She runs a gargantuan 46cm-wide (c-c) handlebar despite her petite build and runs sizeable washers behind the pedal spindles to increase the width of her stance.
“I've had some issues with a shoulder/elbow injury and narrow bars seem to really irritate the problem,” says Irmiger. “It’s a bit ridiculous-looking but I find the wider my handlebars, the less pain I get in my elbow.
"I use the long spindle Crankbrothers pedals on my mountain bike which is already wider than [how] most people run their pedal stance. I had a knee injury in the past and find the wider stance is better for my knee and hips for pedalling.
"[It’s] just a personal fit thing. I like to have all my bikes set up similarly to my mountain bike position. Since road/’cross bottom brackets are a bit narrower than my mountain bike setup, I like to put the washer in there to get all my bikes as close to my race bike as possible.”
Over five weekends of competition, Irmiger has finished no worse than fifth in 10 races and has posted two wins. It seems that her competitive tendencies shine through regardless of what kind of bike she’s on.