Sunday, October 30, 2005


Taken from my post on the RBR CX forum:

Heres a NorCal report: Grass Valley CX part of the Sac Series #8 of 9.

Mens C:

I heard before showing up that the course was mtn bike friendly. Something i dont get too excited about (why have a cross bike if a mtn bike is the weapon of choice?) My start time was at 9:45a. I began my preriding at 8:45 after reg'ing. There was a short gradual uphill on pavement, then a sharp right onto dirt, a triple uphill barriers (and the hill continued past the last barrier so it seemed better just to run the whole thing), then some ups and downs, a log on an uphill, a steep run up a levee of sorts and then back down the same really steep levee, some quick turns and some more ups and downs, then a double barrier, a fast section including a 180 turn on cement and back to the start we are.

i got to the line 5 mins early, took front row, and all the sandbaggers were there----when you win 3 out of 4 times (the other time being a 3rd) youre a sandbagger--upgrade dude. I didnt get a good jump off the line, maybe about 6th going onto the singletrack. then after say 2 laps got caught by two guys. with 2 laps to go, i saw one guy take a major spill going down the steep descent, then the guy in front of me stacked it right on top of him it looked like. so i decided to run down the steep descent and remounted at the bottom. i got caught by the two guys behind me. coming into the 180 cement turn a guy on a mtn bike took the inside line and shot past me too fast, then slammed on his brakes, his front wheel locked up, his rear wheel came off the ground, and he went off the road but stayed up (my heart was up in my throat a bit, because ive seen enough guys go down right in front of me in road racing to know what can happen when it does). Made my way around him, and fought off the guys behind me and came ever so close to one of the guys whom passed me mid race. took a 7th overall out of 22. i think im like 4th overall in the C's pts series. Awards went down to 9th in the Mens Cs and i got 2 single serving Clif powder, a clif bar and a clif shot. Then went to Nevada City and walked around with my girlfriend on a nice sunny crisp day in Northern Cal.

good job all

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bike weights:

Pictures of my race bike (Candice) at 18.47 lbs with double chainring

And the school bus SS CX at 21.47 lbs

I would have taken a pic of Lafawnduh, but shes loaded up as my commuter right with my NightRider Hid light and bags and such, she weighs in at about 20.5 lbs when unloaded.

The Wheel post:

So I just got my Tufo Tubular Elite LPS 32mm tires in the mail. Yellow---to go with my gold rims. They weigh 315 and 336 each, which is a pretty heft discrepency, but their lighter than the Prestiges that I already have and supposedly ive been told that they ride better and have a lower psi limit. Havent yet received my Am Classic front hub that i nabbed off of Ebay for $50 shipped, which seems like a bargain to me especially since they retail for like $109 her in the states. Im considering having the front hub anodized gold, i think that would look really cool. Ill only get it done though if I get a gold King or Tune rear hub. Christmas is coming so maybe ill ask for that. Below are some pics of the weights of the OR-10 rims, 338 and 337 grams and the new tires 630 grams for the pair:

My plan for next year's season is to have two identical Specialized CX bikes (no cash for two new Specialized Tri-Cross') no im talking about the 2000-2003 Specialized M4 CX bikes. As far as wheels go---im going to move my current set of Tubular wheels over to the pit bike (which will have double chainrings) then the gold wheelset will be put on the race bike (which will have one chainring) then im going to build up another wheelset using Araya Aero 1 tubie rims laced to an Ultegra rear hub and probably some ultegra level front hub with Tufo T30 tubular tires for my new SS CX bike. With a set of training wheels (clinchers) in the pit if need be. But im thinking if i cant finish a race with 2 bikes in the pits then maybe im not supposed to finish that race. It also looks like im going to be relocating up to Portland in July and racing cross up there next year, so cross crusade here i come! for more info.

So the update----I finished my Singlespeed Cyclocross bike, shes un named at this point but ill think of something, im thinking of some kind of school bus reference. This is what i posted over at RBR: I had bought a Nishiki Sport road bike from the local thrift store in order to convert it to a fixed gear, which I did. Then, I saw the singlespeed race in Golden Gate park last year and decided I wanted to do that too. So I went home and found that my Nishiki had enough room in the rear triangle to accept a cyclocross tire. I had the canti mounts brazed on by the guy that does retrotec bikes (Curt Inglis), then had Sycip powdercoat it. The color came out way wrong (it was supposed to be burnt orange) but it’ll do. I didn’t get it finished last year, and just in the last few days decided that I wanted to try a singlespeed race this season. And now finally the build is done (minus a starnut installed and a topcap). Interesting notes or aspects of the bike are the Cinelli Alter stem that I stripped down and am using the hole already in the stem as a front brake stop. The custom decals are from which say Nishiki. The brake levers are Campy and must have came out just when “aero” brake levers came out so they can be ran aero or standard. As you can see ive ran the front brake standard in order to use the stem as a brake stop and the rear brake routed under the bartape. Boone titanium 19 tooth cog on the rear. Also, last year I picked up this retro Nishiki jersey----ill be wearing it only when on my school bus beast. Final build is:

Frame: Nishiki
Fork: Surly
Headset: King
Handlebars: On One Midge
Stem: Cinelli alter
Brakes: Empella Froggleggs
Brake levers: Campagnolo
Saddle: Flite
Pedals: Candy SL
Wheels: are what I had lying around, I plan on building up a set of tubulars just for this bike.
Cranks: Dura Ace 7400 with a 39 tooth front ring
Cog: Boone Ti 19t

Im not too sure about the handlebars yet, im accustomed to the standard bars and have never rode on moustache’s or anything like these before (DirtDrops etc) they might stay or they might come off. Everything else though seems good thus far. My concern when building it up was never on weight (Cinelli Alter stem is an anchor) but it came out at 21.5 lbs so I was impressed by that. Sorry my camera seems to be on the outs, so some of the pics didn’t come out too good. One of them is when i first brought her home. If you see me at any of the races say hello.


more information here:


Saturday, October 22, 2005

10/22/05 Vacaville CX race

Well, im sore. What a tough race out at Vacaville this morning. Mens C started with 22 men said the very official official. On my warm up laps, i had an idea that this wasnt my kind of course. It had some very technical sections in it as well as a good deal of climbing. 2 items I cant hide from. Maybe if it was or the other than ok, but not both. I got a decent start, i didnt field myself on the front line, but rather off to the side about one place behind the front guys. I was 6th or 7th going into the first technical gully. I ran it every lap (although most were riding it) i didnt really lose any places but it probably prematurely wore on me during the race. I ended up getting 8th place out of 20 finishers--guess there were a couple DNF's. Training in Sacramento---I'm pretty decent at going fast on flat ground, not going up hills too well though. And my background in time trialing doesnt lend itself to mtb style courses. Next week the race is at Grass Valley, and from what ive heard its another mtn bike friendly course with climbing and sketchy descents. Great! Cant wait. The good news is two weeks after that will be the final two races in the Sac CX series and their both on flat land and shouldnt be too techy.

Over the off-season id like to learn how to ride better in the tech stuff because i expect to upgrade to B's next season, maybe ill do some mtn bike races in addition to the triathlon (kayaking and running) training i plan to be doing. we'll see.

Monday, October 03, 2005

October 3rd 2005: Reno CX

So, i made the trip up to Reno yesterday, to do the first race of their 4 race series. This one was held at Callahan park. It was a challenging course that had 2 creek crossings and a lot of sand (especially on the turns).

I was able to only do 2 practice laps before the race begun, and after doing those laps I was a little intimidated about how well i was going to be able to do due to a few crashes in the sand. The race was Mens C combined with Women and Juniors. On the line were 5 Men's C, 3 women and 3 juniors. I seeded myself not on the front row because of those practice laps, but then, once the race begun i went right into 3rd place, behind one Mens C and one junior.

After going around the course a few times I was able to get a better handle of how it was laid out--mainly gradually uphill on one half of the course with a double barrier but no other technical section and the other half of the course had one forced dismount to climb over a pile of boulders, and there were 2 creek crossings, and 2 semi gnarly sand pits. I ended up running both creeks and both sand pits. I didnt think i could make the creek crossings (although later I saw most of the Mens B's doing just that) and I felt much faster running the sand than riding it.

I ended up getting passed by one of the women about half way through the race. And ended up finishing 4th overall behind one Mens C, one junor and one woman. It was a good race, a good course (although I would have liked more road section) and the results were out within 24 hours.

Danny Auerbach 27:46:00
Derek Gossi 32:14:00
Tyler Blodgett 31:29:00-1 lap

James Herzman 28:40:00
Jeremy Burlingame 30:54:00
Lance Molinari 32:37:00
Eric Blodgett 28:00:00-1 lap
Sean Martin DNF

Robyn Embry 30:24:00
Paige Galeoto 31:05:00
Catherine Sullivan 33:46:00

Thursday, September 29, 2005

9/29/05 The obsession... i dont know if its obvious through reading this blog, but im semi-obessed with a light bike. I'm a frequent weight weenie frequenter ( and try to get the weight of my bikes down as light as realistically possible.

On the cross bike and cyclocross racing, this seems almost the most practical genre of bike racing to reduce weight. I mean youre lifting your bike over barriers, carrying it on your back up steep hills when youre tired and then theres the general climbing hills that you'll find in other bicycle races. Im sure it probably doesnt make a huge difference, but light bikes in my opinion are cooler. Not only is the componentry more likely more high-tech, but it gets creative at some point as well.

Some things I've done to lighten my CX bike (Candice):

I've found bolt hole plugs made of plastic that snap perfectly into the water bottle holes to shed the weight of 2 screws.

Prima 199 bars are very light at 199 grams rather than 260+

New Ultimate seatpost is 94 grams.

Syntace F99 stem is 96 grams with Ti bolts.

Tubular wheels probably made one of the largest differences lightening about a pound and a half off of my bike.

I have just ordered the Ultimate Alpine Scale to measure exactly how much my bike weighed. I had bought a digital fish scale about a year ago and just realized that this thing isnt quite accurate. My home scale says Candice weighs in at 18.6 lbs with race wheels, but that sounds a little high to me, so we'll see when the new hanging scale arrives.

Pretty much everything gets weighed on one of my two gram scales before it goes on the bike. I have an Excel spreadsheet for my race bikes that lists the item, weight , size etc. As any weight weenie knows, the trick to a light bike is making every gram matter. Its easy to say that product A is only 50 grams lighter than product B, but with so many components on a bike, those 50 grams will add up (about 454 grams in a pound).

Component Model Weight

Bar tape white tape w/ plugs 56
bottle cage none 0
bottle cage bolts nylon plugs 0.5
bottom bracket plus bolts Truvativ Team Giga SL 232
brake levers see shifters 0
rear brakes Paul Touring 130
front brake Paul Neo Retro 130
cables housing generic ??
chain Sram 292
computer Schwinn 51
chainring 38t 31
48t 79
crank FSA carbon pro 175 isis 429
chainring bolts Al 10
front der Ultegra w/ clamp 107
rear der ultegra tuned 214
fork Woundup 575
frame Specialized ???
handlebar 3T prima 199 191.6
headset FSA Orbit 113
headset cap/bolt none 0
headset spacers Carbon ??
pedals Candy Ti 253
skewers control tech ti bolt ons 48.6
seat Flite TT 179.1
seat binder Colorado collar 33
seatpost New Ultimate 94
shifters :
Rear: Ultegra 9 spd 246
Front: Dura Ace brifter 219.6
stem Syntace 105mm w/ ti 96
cassette Sram 12/26 220
Total without wheels/tires/frame 4030.4

I'll be tearing down the bike after the 2005 race season in order to hunt out the weight of this bike. I know i weighed the frame when i first bought it, but i guess i didnt write it down, so now i have no idea what it weighs. Well, i have some idea, but i want an exact number. Plus, i might be adding components from LaFawnduh over to Candice like the Dura Ace Rear derailleur.

In conclusion, I know that a few pounds doesnt make the difference between 1st and 7th place. But it adds another aspect to the sport for me. I like gadgets and I like bikes, and light bikes seem to have the best gadgets. I'd rather have a reliable bike than a silly light bike or one thats unsafe. There's the line you walk between whats silly light and whats just light. And theres that line of whats too $$$$ and whats just $$.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

So, Im using tubular wheels now with Tufo Prestige 32mm tires. I raced with them on both races this last weekend as well as a couple training rides before that, and am very happy with them. They are a lot lighter than my clinchers and they ride a lot nicer as well. Im still getting used to lowering the pressure down, but I'll come up with the "right" pressure soon enough with some experience. The specs are:

Front wheel:
hub: Hershey Naked 32h
spokes: DT 2.0/1.8
rim: Sun m19AII

Rear Wheel:
hub: American Classic 32h
spokes: Wheelsmith 2.0/1.8
nips: brass
rim: matrix iso

The rims are very similiar in style (semi aero, lack of eyelets) rim weights were 383 for the front Sun and 404 for the Matrix.

Total wheel weight without tires was 1575 grams with tires it was 2388 grams

Now, im looking at building up another set. Thinking of a little more racier set up, lighter weight, higher bling etc. For the bling-factor im looking at making them all gold.

Thus far ive got the rims i wanna Mavic Or-10's bought off ebay for $75 for the pair plus shipping. They weigh in at 345 a rim, which in total should be about 97 grams lighter than my current wheelset.

hubs: thinking of the American Classic micro 58 front hub, reanondized in a gold/yellow to match the rims. For the rear considering the Tune mig190's in gold.

Nipples would be alloy nips

and the spokes im considering are the DT REvo 2.0/1.5's

Im looking at build weight of around 1243 grams, which is 332 grams lighter or .75 lbs. Fairly significant weight to reduce from rotating mass.

im thinking of the Tufo Elite Yellow tires for the rubber.

It would be a wheelset lighter than Zipp 404's and total cost would end up around $500. Which is a lot. For only another $300 or so i could actually get the Zipps. Thr only problem is, i dont consider myself a good enough cx'er to toe the line with a set of carbon deep dish CX wheels. Id be the mayor of Poserville. With this wheelset, i'd get a very light and cool looking set of wheels that could slip under the radar. Also, I really want to build these myself.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Folsom Point Cyclocross race report:

I thought i might be more tired after the Negro bar race the day before, but upon waking on sunday morning i was feeling okay. The race was less organized than the previous day with the course about 30% staked out at the start of registration. But it came together. I really liked the course---it had a lot of climbing involved, some sand, descents, and a good amount of pavement.

The race started with a long hill climb to spread out the pack. At the top of the hill, i was 4th place (of 12) and about a minute later i was in 5th place. Again, like the day before, about 20+ minutes into the race i got caught by the racer behind me, but i ended up finishing strong and staying in front of that guy. I actually caught way up to the racer in front of me (i learned later that he crashed). I liked the Folsom Point course better than Negro bar because it felt more open (the laps were really long) we went around i think 4 times for a 30 min race---laps were taking our Mens C group about 7 minutes to complete.

Men C’s
Jeff Mitchell, Rio Strada, 26:33
Joshua Carling, 26:44
Ted Hatch, 27:01
Ryan Wenker, 28:04
Jeremy Burlingame, 28:11
Jack Sargeant,, 28:25
Ryan Clark, Key Dollar Cab, 30:16
Geoff James, 30:40
Bob Rolke, TBB, 31:01
Jacob Otsuka, 36:10

Im feeling after this weekend, that my fitness is fairly decent, if i can make some improvements in technique and becoming more comfortable riding more technical stuff at higher speeds i will be able to move up at least one or two places in the pack. It seems that its the technical stuff where i lose more time to people than the fitness/aerobic areas.

Im going to try and race up in Reno this weekend.
September 26th 2005: The Double Weekend

This last weekend was a CX double here in Sacramento---Negro Bar on saturday and Folsom point on Sunday.

Negro bar: Upon arrival at 8am, the course was 90% laid out already which was nice, because before registration was even open, I was able to go walk sections of the course that looked more challenging. I entered the Men's C race and it had a start list of 13 men. Off the start I was in the top 3, then at the first tricky section i was down to about 7th or so. Im not sure why this really happened, I think i was concerned about going out too hard or i was in an oxygen debt after the quick start, but it was more a fitness thing than a technique issue which is interesting for me. I always find it interesting how different racers have different strengths and weaknesses, so you have this accordion effect with those other racers around you. At the mid way point, i must have slowed downm because the guy in front of me left me, and the guys behind me caught up to me. Then, something happened and I began making time on the guy in front of me. As a result, the guys behind me got dropped. I ended up catching that last guy with about a lap to go, so that was pretty exciting for me, as i felt like i ended on a high note. Ended up 6th out of a starting 13, so i felt good about that.

Bruno Pitton 30:13
Jack Sargeant,, 30:45
Ron Rouse, Rio Strada 30:46
Jeff Mitchell, Rio Strada, 30:47
Ryan Wenker 30:59
Jeremy Burlingame, 32:14
Reese Gary, 32:29
Ryan Clark, 32:58
Kurt Weidmann, 32:08
Ross Stewart, Bicycle Planet, 31:20
Kevin Tse, Team City, 34:00
Bill Youngman34:50
Tim Warriner, 31:28 @ 4 laps.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Homemade Cyclocross Barriers

Made some Barriers:

well i made some barriers last spring out of wood, two heights, one to practice my bunny hops and the other reg height. Then i moved and i think i left them at the old place.

After seeing the link to the Boston Cross PVC barriersI was inspired to make a new set--this time out of PVC.

I tweaked the design a tad from Boston Cross, because i didnt want them staked into the ground, but rather to sit on the ground so that i could put them on cement, hard pack firetrails etc. Total cost for 3=$9 at my local OSH. and 30 mins labor (thats with just a hand saw to cut the pipes.) Only one ended up being exactly reg height at 40 cm, but the others are 39cm and 39.5 cm. Pretty darn close for practice.
Monday Sept 19th 2005: Race Report #1 Folsom Rodeo Grounds

So, a fairly nice day for a cross race, not incredibly hot, sunny though. The course was very technical. Lots of single track, two run ups, a couple steep descents, made for a tough day. And although the organizers did their best at cleaning/grooming the course, there were a lot of flats.

My race began at 12:45, Mens B's, due to the large field, the group was split into 40 and under and 40 and above. After half a lap, I felt like I had a slow leak in my rear tire (wheres the love Mr. Tuffy?). I made a fairly quick bike change, and started off again. After another 3/4 of a lap, the handlebars on Lafawnduh loosened up and my race was done---about 6 minutes after it started. I was fairly dissapointed with it, having two bikes you wouldnt expect to have a DNF due to a mechanical, but I did.

Next week is Negro Bar on Saturday and Folsom Point on Sunday. I am planning on doing both of those races, and i like the course that was set up on each last year. Im shooting for a more redemptive race this next weekend. I also plan to be riding on tubulars for the first time in a race this weekend. Im supposed to pickup my rear wheel from Steve Rex's tomorrow. I'll have a spare bike next weekend (that has tight handlebars), tubs on my race bike and a spare wheelset as well. Hopefully, with all of that, I wont have any issues and a smooth race will ensue.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday 9/15/05:

So went and rode candice again last night, had a good workout but realized I had two problems with my bike. One was my bottom bracket was creaking horribly---very bad noises. I know the BB isnt loose because i tightened it the night before after I first began to hear noises coming from down there. The second issue is that I was having a hard time clipping in and unclipping into my pedals.

Solutions: Im going to go to Performance bike today at lunch and buy a new BB, only $36. Hopefully, that solves that problem. For the pedals, I'm going to put those little shims that come with the Candy's under the cleats and hopefully, that will work.

If the new BB doesnt solve the problem, then im not sure what to do. But will probably ride Lafawnduh this weekend, which makes me a little nervous because i just got her and havent had one real CX ride on it yet.

Okay, so 4 hours later....The BB was $50 plus tax. But the good news is that it actually worked. The creak is gone. Thank goodness. Then added one set of spacers under my cleats and the clip in is so much easier and exiting is easier as well (How'd ive ever live without the spacers before is beyond me). Something im learning more and more in cyclocross is that whats fine for just going on a little easy ride by myself isnt always fine for an intense high speed game of cyclocross racing. You cant afford to spend 12 seconds for clipping in, you cant be thinking about your clicking/creaking bottom bracket. Your saddle's gotta be comfortable enough you dont mind jumping on it, etc.

Lastly, Mr Tuffy's rock! I put the reds in my tires earlier this week, inspecting my tires today, when i took off my BB, and i had 2 good size thorns in my rear wheel. Pulling them out i was anticipating the hiss of death, but no such bad luck. Seems that the Mr. tuffy's did their job.

Edit: Just got back from a ride, the spacers didnt quite work well enough for the left shoe, on dismounts i was getting held a little too much. So i got out the DREMEL and grounded off a little of tread where the pedal rubs. On my little test ride with a few dismounts, it seems to have been fixed. We'll see...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wednesday September 14th 2005

I received LaFawnduh today! Very excited. Just got done building her up and cleaning her out, tuning derailleurs etc. Did some measurements on Candice to help me dial in the right position on the new girl before I even took her for a ride. That worked quite well. Measurements i took were: Top tube C-c, seat tube c-c, bb to saddle rails, saddle tip to center of handlebar and stem length. The two frames are very similarly sized Candice is .5 cm longer in the top tube, and 1.5 cm longer in the seat tube. Its not perfect, ideally, because Candice is dialed into my body very well, id want my pit bike to be identical, but thats tough to do when you dont buy the same frame or have one/both custom made.

Also, I've went on a little buying spree in the last few days. Got another lightly used set of Tufo CX Tubulars on ebay for $55 for the pair, paid $160 for a barely used Ultegra gruppo containing ultegra STI levers, 9 spd rear derailleur, front derailleur, 105 12/25 cassette and ultegra brakeset--through craigslist. Theres more too, like 2 new cassettes, the wheel build at my LBS (thats a story for another day), etc.

The season starts this Sunday for me, been down with a little virus the last couple of days, but am going to go for a cx ride tonite.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cyclocross Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This is my attempt to answer some of the basic questions regarding cyclocross racing and bicycles. If you have anything to add, you can leave a comment on this site.

Q: What are the best pedals to use for cyclocross racing?

A: While this is largely a personal preference the most popular styles are Time Atac, Crank Brothers Candys and Crank Brothers Eggbeaters. These pedal systems seem to shed mud better than the Speedplay Frogs. And there are some proponents of Shimano's SPD pedals as well. Some will argue that the fact the Candys and the ATAC's have a platform they make clipping in easier and provide more of a platform to push on or clip into. The Time ATACS can be had for pretty cheap these days on the used markets, and are a good pedal for a low cost.

Below are some Crank Brothers Candy pedals for sale on eBay:

Q: Why are Cantilever brakes so popular in cyclocross and not V's (linear pull types)?
A: This is a hotly debated issue, but their are several reasons canti's are king. One is because they allow more modulation than V brakes. Secondly, in cyclocross racing, there's less of a need to come to a dead stop but rather to curb your speed back slightly (this is related to the first reason given). Third, cantilever brakes can be set up so that the pads are further from the rims to allow for more mud clearance than V brakes. Lastly, cyclocross is a sport of tradition, and cantilever brakes have been around for a long time and they work.

If you're new to racing or will be using a CX bike to commute on and are trying to keep a bike build on a low budget and you already have a set of V brakes, theyre okay to use. Go to this article to find out more about setting cantilever brakes up.

Q: Okay so I'm convinced that cantilevers are the best for CX, now what are the best canti brakes?

A: Pauls Neo Retro front and Paul's Touring rear are the some of the best cantilevers around. They are light, super simple to set up, and work great. All those plusses comes at a cost---they retail for $186 for that setup. Although you can get them cheaper on certain places on the web. One of the reasons they work so well is that they use V brake style pads, this makes them much easier to dial in and "toe in" as opposed to those cantilever brakes that use cantilever smooth post pads, such as Empella Froggleggs, Spooky's and any old XT/XTR brakes.

Avid canti's come stock on a lot of cyclocross bikes and are known to squeal like crazy. Some have had success using extra wide straddle carriers, made by Salsa. If you're having problems setting up your Avid's (they make a lot of noise, barely slow you down, etc), don't feel alone, most people do. Although I believe that if you tow them in correctly and enough, they work fine. I believe this because I've used them in the past and when I first got the bike, they squealed very loudly, but a little tinkering waiting for a commuter train one day and they work great.

Q: Im going to be racing cross and I've heard a lot of talk about tubular tires, whats the deal?

A: Tubular tires let you run a lower tire pressure without losing the tire off of the rim, as can happen to clincher tires if the pressure is too low. Lower pressure will slow you down on the road or hard fireroad sections of a cross course, but low pressure is crucial in sand pits, and can be used to ride through mud or snow better as well. There is a balance between too little and too much tire pressure.

Also, a tubular wheelset will be considerably lighter than a clincher wheelset for the following reasons:

1. Tubular rims can be made lighter than clincher rims.
2. Tubular tires themselves are lighter than a Clincher tire plus tube plus rim strip.

Tubular tires/wheels aren't for the CX newbie. I'd recommend them if you're interested in stepping up your game a little, and are more serious about racing and your placing.

Q: Can my road bike be converted into a cyclocross bike?

A: Yes! The basic difference between a cyclocross bike and a road bike are the brakes and tires, and some parts of the drivetrain. Sometimes the bottom bracket is raised so that your higher above things like roots, mud, etc. Everything else is the same, shifters, cranks, seatpost, wheels, cassette, etc.

So first thing first: Tires. The usual problem is lack of clearance for cyclocross tires. Cyclocross tires not only are a lot wider than road tires, they are taller as well (due to the larger tread). Also, if riding in muddy conditions, you'll need extra frame space so that the mud does not cake up and stay stuck on your frame.

If you have enough room in your frame to run larger tires, you're still going to need brakes. Standard road calipers will not work with cyclocross tires. Since road bikes dont have cantilever posts your gonna have to slow down some other way. One option is old school technology, centerpull brakes (pictured below). These are often found on eBay or in the "junk" pile of your LBS.

Another option is if you have a steel framed road bike, you can have cantilever posts brazed on your frame---this can be done for around $40. Contact your local frame builder to see if they can do that for you.

Lastly, you could buy a new front fork (a cyclocross fork) and run cantilever brakes on the front with one of those centerpull brakes on the rear. I've read that the rear brake only takes 40% of the effort to slow you down so having a weaker brake back there shouldn't be such a bad thing.

You'll want to lower your saddle a bit, as it makes jumping onto your bike for the remounts easier.

You'll need mtn bike pedals as well. As well as smaller chain rings up front. Most common is 38/48 with perhaps a larger cassette 12/25 or 12/27.

I'm hoping to find a nice older celeste Bianchi to do this with in the future ---- a celeste cyclocross bike, is there anything cooler?

Q: I have a mountain bike and want to race cyclocross, what do I need to do to my bike?

A: Well to be legal to race in most local series, you only actually need to make sure you dont have bar ends (as they pose a liability/safety hazard).

But if you want to be faster, some things include locking out all shocks so that they are stiff. Also, you'll want narrower tires in the 1.5" range.Many online sites have a good selection of 26" "cyclocross" tires. That is, tires that are 26" but have a less aggressive tread to assist in rolling resistance on the hard pack or road sections of the course. Also check out this for more information about one man and his quest to turn a mtn bike frame into a cyclocross bike for adventuring around on.

Q: What gearing should I go with?

A: First there are two options---a single ring front and a double ring front.

Single Ring: By running with a single ring up front and 1x8 or 1x9 on the back you get most of the gear ratios that you will need for a typical cyclocross course. The benefits are that you wont have to think about shifting on the front ring at all (because there's only one), the setup is lighter (because you don't have a front derailleur, one less chain ring, and no shifting mechanism ie STI or bar end shifter). The downsides to a single ring are that, you wont have as many gear options as the racer with a double ring set up, typically. Also, I have tried a number of ways to limit drop chains and have been unsuccessful after using a multiple amount of products aimed at preventing a dropped chain.

If you choose to use a single ring, most people use a 42 tooth with a 12/27 rear.

Q: What cyclocross bike should I buy?

A: This is a very hard question to answer. First, how much do you have to spend? Do you want to go custom steel or production aluminum, carbon, steel or titanium?

Even when looking at two different stock aluminum frames, the key is to pick the one that fits (thats a whole other topic). Dont buy a frame based on color, or because your buddy says that it was the best frame he ever used. The frame has to fit your body.

Also, it depends on what your intention for the frame is going to be. Pure racing? Commuting and loaded touring with some racing? Just going on the trails behind your house? Different frames will suit different intentions. For a frame that will be raced, I would suggest you think about the weight of the frame. A Surly Karate Monkey is a good do-everything-frame, but its very heavy and might not be fun to lift when you're really tired, sore and out of breath.

More on frame choice in the future...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Went out and pre-rode the course with some guys this morning. I drove out to Folsom (about 30 mins away) and when i got there, realized I didnt bring my cycling shoes. So i did the 2.5+ hour ride in my running shoes on my Candy pedals, that was tough. By the end of the ride, my calves were sore, my quads were sore, and my feet were sore. Plus, during the whole ride I was unable to really "ride" aggressively because my shoes kept slipping off of the pedals etc. So that combined with my early ride flat, which consumed all of my instant/speed patches without solving the air leak--leading to the borrowing/stealing of another's tube and then another flat on the other wheel just as we got into the parking lot where my car was parked made for some excitement.

Other than those issues, the ride was really good. I got a good look at the course for next week, and will probably go back again on maybe like wednesday or thursday to pre ride it again, this time with my correct shoes.

Also, picked up some Mr. Tuffy tire liners for my wheels. I always have stayed away from them due to their added weight. But now, I figure that they arent going to be my race wheels, but my training wheels anyway, why not have some extra weight on there---itll only make my new race wheels that much lighter.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A week to the first cross race of the season. Well, in the last week, ive bought a used bike, bought some new cycling clothing (bib shorts from Performance and a jersey from Voler), put on new pedals, headset, brakes and a saddle on my cross bike. Also, ive begun to get back out on her and do some practice rides. Fast dismounts were a little unerving at first, as I hadnt done them in like 9 months, but with some practice they began to come back to me. There's a big park behind my house and it butts up against the levee for the American River, there's a flight of stairs up the levee and then a small trail coming down the levee as well. Well, the other day, i practiced my dismount, star climbing, remounting, then descending-----which was fun.

Tomorrow, im riding with a roadbikereview buddy, Frank, and his club BicyclePlanet. They are organizing the first cx race on the Sac circuit and are going to pre ride next weeks course. Frank invited me out with them so I've gotta be there at 7am tomorrow, in Folsom, which is like 25 mins from my house. Im not a morning person.

But I think my bike is much more dialed in now than it was this time last season. I fixed a creak caused by a loose bottom bracket, put on the right cleats for the pedals i was using, and in general replaced a lot of the weaker/problem prone areas that arose during races last season.

Also, today I received my nearly new Dura Ace left STI shifter. Now Dura Ace is a little nice for a CX rig, but it was DA for $52 or 105 for about the same price, so thats a no brainer. I already have the Ultegra front derailleur (although its a braze on so im going to need a 31.8 clamp) . I'm still waiting for my chainrings from and then i'll be set to rig this thing up for a front derailleur. The Rohloff chainguide thats on their now doesnt work as well as I would want it to, so im going the double ring route.

Lastly, about a year ago, I decided to invest in a racing tubular tire wheelset and began to acquire the parts to build up a light and durable set of wheels. Well, I stalled out after the 2004 CX season ended but i still had the parts. So today I took my Sun Rims (383 and 386 grams), Hershey Naked Hub and American Classic rear hub into The Bicycle Business to have them built up. Im going with brass nipples (partly because the rims dont have eyelets and i dont want the nipples to fuse with the aluminum rims) as well as DT REVO 1.5/2.0 spokes. They may have to order them which would mean that I wouldnt have my new wheelset by the first race, but either way, thats okay. The awesome thing about this wheelset (other than being tubular) will be the weight. I figure they should weigh in at about 1300+ grams which after adding in my tubular tires and a lighter cassette will make them about 2.17 pounds lighter than my current wheelset (Mavic CXP 22's). Thats a huge weight savings. It'll be interesting to see how much my bike weighs after those things are put on there. The icing on the cake, would be a pair of Tune AC16+17 skewers which are super light at 53 grams for the pair (and their flip off skewers not bolt ons!) but their also pretty expensive for skewers at around $100. Maybe I'll ask for them for Xmas?

Friday, September 09, 2005

I just bought a "new to me" cyclocross bike, a black 56cm Trek with full Ultegra, that I've named Lafawnduh. She didnt come with wheels, but i had a pair of Mavic Reflex clinchers mounted on Dura Ace hubs that will work very well. I picked her up for $597 shipped, add the $70 i spent on the wheels and not a bad bike for $667 (supposedly, this bike retailed for $1200 or so). I intend to use her as my pit bike. I had several mechanicals last year (part of the learning process of doing your own wrenching) and having this as a pit bike will be very nice insurance. The pic above is from the ad that I saw on . I will swap out some of the parts, add a seatpost and saddle (ofcourse) and she'll be set to ride. The drivetrain Gruppo is nicer than that on my "race" bike, Candice, but being as the season is set to begin in 10 days, i dont want to tear apart 2 bikes that work very well as this point in order to upgrade Candice's drivetrain. That sounds like a project for the end of the season. At that time, I'll swap the rear derailleur, STI's, and maybe the crankset.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

This is Candice... long for Candi as in Candy Cane due to her color. Frame and fork off of RBR, though bought at separate times. Its going to be updated soon going from the single ring to a double front ring (because ive dropped so many chains with the single ring its dumb). As well as new white bar tape. I just got the Paul brakes on and got back from the first ride, and I do love this sport.

Also recently added was the red FSA orbit headset and a more comfortable Flite TT saddle.

Frame: Specialized M4 2001 56cm
Fork: Woundup Carbon Cross 9.25 inch steerer tube
Brakes: Paul Neo Retro Front and Touring rear
Cranks: FSA Gossamer
Seatpost: New ultimate 27.2x250mm
Saddle: Flite TT
BB: American Classic Split ring ISIS
Wheels (training): Mavic CXP
Pedals: Candy Ti
Handlebar: Prima 199
Stem: Easton
Brake levers/shifters:
Rear 105 brifter
Front: Dura Ace brifter (soon to be)
Front Derailleur:
Rear Derailleur: Deore LX
Computer: Schwinn (its the only red/white computer i could find) bonus is that it actually works.
Headset: FSA Orbit