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Welcome me to the CX club...(Ride/Race report)(12 posts)

Welcome me to the CX club...(Ride/Race report)biknben
Nov 16, 2003 7:08 PM
I went and popped my CX cherry this weekend. All things seemed to come together this week. My road racing season is long over and the last MTB race was last weekend. My club is hosting a CX series this fall. My friend at the LBS just received a demo CX bike in my size. All this created a huge itch that had to be scratched.

So I made plans to dive right in and do the next CX race. I was lurking here all week trying to get any tidbits I could. I had never even ridden a CX bike and only seen still photos of races. I knew about run-ups and barriers but didn't have any mounting/dismounting experience other than MTB racing. I still had good fitness so I figured I wouldn't embarrass myself.

I grabbed the bike after work on Friday. I took it home and made some minor adjustments and cleaned it up a bit. It was a C'Dale cross bike with carbon fork, a mix of components (Ultegra/105), and Mavic Cosmos wheels.

On Saturday I went out on
i MY
maiden CX voyage. I rode a few miles on the road to my local MTB trails and dove right in. Well, that was an eye opener. The trails are pretty tame for MTB but I was getting the crap kicked out of me by lots of roots and rocks. Where's the suspension??? I rode for about 1.5 hours and felt like I had been out much longer.
The Race...biknben
Nov 16, 2003 7:27 PM
On Sunday morning, I showed up at the CX race. I hooked up with a couple teammates who knew I was out of my element. I could see the course in the distance as I got ready. The guys were pointing out at the grass field and telling me how the route went. All I could see was tape and flags. I just laughed. It looked like a maze. I asked them to stop and just take me out for the warmup.

Conditions were very good. Temps around 40* and the course was relatively dry. I felt like I was turning senselessly. The guys that can look at a grass field and create a course are gifted. We went up and down this grass slope a bunch of times. Through a picnic area around tables and BBQs. Through two horse stables. Over random piles of dirt and around a lake. There were a few barriers mixed in and run/jump over a creek. Thankfully none of the classic run-ups.

23 guys lined up for the "B" race. I got an acceptable start and was about mid-pack up the first climbs. Things divided up quickly. I was in the top ten just going with the flow for a lap or two. As things began to thin out more, there was a group of 3 just a handfull of seconds ahead. I was within a few guys trying to catch them.

One of the 3 leaders was my teammate and I was just going with the flow so I did no work and just sat on wheels. One of the stragglers was finally able to bridge with me on his wheel so we had a lead group of 5 and everyone else fell off the pace.

I was pretty spent and was having trouble finding a rythym with all the dismounting and changes of direction. I just sat on the back. After a lap, the guy who pulled me up was hurting and made a couple mistakes. when he started to let a gap form I jumped ahead and he fell off the pace. We were now down to four.

My teammate and I were the weaker of the four. Afer another lap together a gap quickly formed between each of us. It was only a couple bike lengths. When each guy accelerated to get back together I couldn'd respond and fell off the pace. I had been doing a lot of wheel sucking just to keep up so once I lost it, they pulled away. I rode the last two laps by myself and finished fourth. My teammate also fell off the pace eventually and finished 40 sec. ahead of me.
Final impressions....biknben
Nov 16, 2003 7:45 PM
I'm primarily a MTB racer. I do even more road races but it's only because they are more abundant in my area. I just don't think I have enough room for another discipline. It's too much like a crit and not enough like a MTB race.

I had a blast. I finished much better than I thought I would. I didn't embarrass myself on the barriers. My teammates asked me afterwards if I was hooked. I told them it was a great first race but it was also probably my last. At least for the forseable future. I'm struggling to maintain the bikes I have. I'm also in need of an off-season. I'm not willing to pick up something new at the expense of the MTB or road training.

So, I give you guys major props. It was a tough race and I had near perfect conditons. I have no interest in doing that in sub-freezing mud and grime. Ride on friends, I'll cheer you on from the sidelines.
Hey, biknben...jtferraro
Nov 17, 2003 7:51 PM
thanks for the report and your impressions! Congrats on the 4th place finish - awesome! I just started lurking over here and noticed your post. I'm planning on watching some of the next race of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series, in CT, on the 30th.

How did you like the C'dale demo? What is your total bike count up to now (you mentioned you could just barely keep up w/the maintenance on them)? CAAD7 road, Surly Cross-Check fixie, I'm sure at least 1 or 2 mtb's, right? What else? ;-)

Actually, I'm down to 4...biknben
Nov 17, 2003 9:04 PM
My bike inventory consists of the CAAD7, the Surly, a GT I-Drive MTB, and an old C'dale hardtail beater. The hardtail is just a garbage bike I use to pull the kids in the trailer.

Starting a family and reducing to a single income have put a serious crimp on my bike budget. No more frivelous (sp?)spending for a while. Thankfully, my riding has actually increased during this time but that means more tires, chains, and other wear items are required. I have sold a couple bikes to afford some extra wheels and winter clothing.

I'm not sure I can give a good review of the C'Dale cross bike. It's the only CX bike I've ridden. It had typical C'Dale feel, stiff and efficient. One thing I did notice was the tire clearance. The rear tire was a 30c and you might fit a 35c in there if you had to. The front fork had a huge amount of clearance. You could fit a MTB tire in those forks. While riding the bike, I felt like I was getting the crap beat outta me. I have to admit I may have gotten too used to my full-suspension MTB.

Hope that helps.

The Surly is absent from the pic because it's upstairs waiting for tomorrow's commute.
Hah - "down" to 4, eh? ;-)jtferraro
Nov 18, 2003 7:39 AM
How many did you have at most? Yup, I had forgotten about your C'dale hardtail (w/o suspension fork) SS. I had just read about it from one of your other posts. I also remember you had the CAAD5 road bike. You sold that to buy the CAAD7 road, right? Speaking of extra wheels, do you still have the Zipps that were on the CAAD5?

My stable now consists of my TREK 5500 road, C'dale F700 hardtail mtb (only the frameset is original and it only has 60mm of travel - max), and my new Fuji Track fixie. Bikes I don't have = full suspension mtb and cyclocross bike. =)

BTW, how long was that CX race? How was your commute to work today? How many miles RT?


I've been consolidating...biknben
Nov 18, 2003 8:46 AM
It's been a give and take for a couple years now. I used to keep old bikes and let them collect dust. Now, when a new bike shows up and another is removed.

The current GT replaced a previous I-Drive that I sold on eBay. The CAAD5 went on eBay a week after the CAAD7 arrived. I gave a Fuji FG conversion to a friend when I built the Surly last spring.

The Zipps went on eBay in August. I did well on that deal. I had put over 5k miles on them in 2.5 years, had rebuilt the rear wheel, and the braking surface was worn. I was able to buy some AC-350s with goods tires and still had money left over.

The CX race ended up being just over an hour. It was 45 minutes plus one lap. Apparently we crossed the line at 43 minutes so they didn't ring the bell until the next lap. I was pretty cooked by the end.

I have a 27 mile RT commute. The mornings are fine. I get out before traffic becomes an issue. The return trips are the problem. I try to stay late and let traffic subside but I don't want to get home too late either. I usually have to deal with the tail end of rush hour. I've got more lights and reflectors on my bike than a truck. It's obnoxious but at least I'll be seen.
Zipps & lights...jtferraro
Nov 18, 2003 10:47 AM
Just curious, how did you like the Zipps? Did you have the 303's or the 404's? What made you go from a deep section (aero) wheelset to a shallow section one? I'm sure the 350's cost and weigh less, right? Where your Zipps clinchers?

27 miles is a pretty long RT commute. Do you ride to work just about everyday? I sometimes wish my commute was further, as it's only about 8-9 miles RT. I suppose I can go a longer route but it usually doesn't happen. In the morning I'm usually in somewhat of a rush to get there, plus I don't want to get any more sweaty than I have to, and in the afternoon I like to get home ASAP now that the sun goes down so early. I believe you have a Nite Rider single light (Trail Rat 2.0?). I'm considering purchasing one.

Thanks for your info,

Zipps & lights...biknben
Nov 18, 2003 1:28 PM
I had the 303 tubulars and loved them. The differences between them and my DA/OP wheels was huge. The were obviously lighter and more aero but also more comfortable to ride. The tubies and the carbon rims really smoothed things out.

I rode them into the ground. The braking surface had been worn to a glass finish. I had already rebuilt the rear after braking a spoke (during a standing climb).

Because they were aging I used them less and less. I was only using them for races. That's where I was most likely to destroy them in a wreck. The old advice, "Don't race it if you can't afford to replace it" really hit home with me. I decided to unload them while I could still get good money for them. I bought them for $900 3 years ago. I sold them with tires for $650. I was happy.
I have the NR storm HID light. It's the helmet one. I have it on the bars and use and old "trail rat" pack to mount the battery to the frame. I got this one because I wanted to be able to use it on my bars OR my helmet. The water bottle version can only go on the bars. The HID is impressively bright.

I'm a big fan of the NR lights. When I did 24 hours races, NR was there with chargers. You can find them in most shops. Most importantly, I've never had problems with them. My older batteries eventually died and I was able to get new batteries easily without being forced to upgrade.

Which light you get depends on riding conditions. I recommend single beam units. If I need two beams, I want one on my head and the other on the bars. It's much more versatile that way.
My commute is about 45 min. each way. It's just right. It's not so long that I get cooked or frozen. OTOH, its long enough to get benefit from. I often use it as a slow recovery ride. I'm on pace to do about 140 days this year. I keep half my wardrobe at the office where I have a shower. When I drive in, I switch clothes.
Actually, I'm down to 4...happycx
Nov 18, 2003 4:15 PM
Hey, if I remember correctly, the C'dale you rode had a wishbone in the back, right? I have the Optimo Disc and it is TOTALLY different. Much smoother!!!
It did have wishbone stays...biknben
Nov 18, 2003 5:22 PM
Yes, it did have wishbone seat stays. I'm pretty familiar with C'Dale frames but this one was funky. It had the main triangle of a CAAD5 road bike with the seat stays of a CAAD3 mtn. bike. The chainstays were more square than round. It was like a C'Dale frankenframe. Strange!
Final impressions....MShaw
Nov 19, 2003 10:43 AM
Ya gotta remember that you're racing around in the dirt with a buncha roadies. Roadies race crits.

The cool thing about cross is that you can go ride around in circles for an hour but not really "race," and still have a good time.

...and you're out on your bike when most roadies are hibernating!