Extending the season
By James Huang
Fisher builds the frame
with True Temper OX Platinum tubing.
Bontrager's Race Lite VR
SRAM's Rival group is one
of the best around for 'cross.
Irmiger's Rival crankset
is fitted with just a single 39T chainring.
A Third Eye Chain Watcher
Eggbeater 4Ti pedals
Subaru-Gary Fisher pro cross-country rider Heather Irmiger typically
doesn't have much energy remaining after the long season to seriously
tackle 'cross but this year's early finish - she skipped the last UCI
World Cup round in Schladming, Austria - left the 29-year-old Boulder,
Colorado resident with a little more fitness and determination than
"I almost always do the local Boulder cyclo-cross workouts and a few
local events in November," said Irmiger, "but I mostly hide out to protect
Team sponsor Gary Fisher has supplied Irmiger with a new race rig this
season, the Presidio, to replace her now-defunct Lemond Poprad. However,
keen eyes will notice a strong resemblance between the two beneath the
paint and, indeed, they are practially carbon copies of each other with
the same TIG-welded True Temper OX Platinum steel construction, identical
dropouts and cable routing, and apparently even the same geometry as
Even so, Irmiger's bike is markedly lighter than her old steed thanks
to a higher-end spec. Last season's aluminum fork has been upgraded
to a carbon unit, and the aging 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
Like many 'cross racers, Irmiger prefers a single chainring up front
for its lighter weight and generally greater reliability, especially
in bad weather. "In general, anything in a 'cross race that might require
an easier gear is a run-up anyway," she said.
Rolling stock is provided by Bontrager Race X Lite aluminum tubulars
and Tufo Flexus tires which provide a little extra bite for the region's
typically hardpacked course conditions. The rest of the rig is filled
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. Irmiger
runs a gargantuan 46cm-wide (c-c) handlebar despite her petite build
and runs sizeable washers behind the pedal spindles to increase the
"I've had some issues with a shoulder/elbow injury and narrow bars
seem to really irritate the problem," said Irmiger. "It's a bit ridiculous
looking but I find the wider my handlebars, the less pain I get in my
"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 pedaling. [It's] just a personal fit thing. Overall,
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 set up, I like to put the washer in there to get all my bikes as
close to my race bike as possible."
That pride has been pretty well protected this year but it hasn't exactly
been through hiding. True, Irmiger has shied away from the bigger national
series races such as the USGP but given the unusually high level of
base fitness in the Colorado area, they're still not exactly easy. Over
five weekends of competition, Irmiger has finished no worse than fifth
in ten races and has posted two wins.
Tired or not, it seems that Irmiger's competitive tendencies still
shine through regardless of what kind of bike she's on.
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