Friday, September 16, 2011

My ’Cross To Bear

On Wednesday evening I got my first real taste of cyclocross from a rider’s perspective.  Sure, I’ve ridden bikes on grass before, and I’ve even practiced dismounting and then carrying my bike over barriers.  And I’ve been a spectator in person and online when I can find a webcast (there wasn’t one for Cross Vegas on Wednesday night and I was pissed).  But Wednesday’s practice was the genuine article, right down to a multi-lap race simulation against experienced riders who dropped me with ease.  Cyclocross has a skill set that is completely different from the other cycling disciplines I have enjoyed.  But that’s why there’s a Masters Cat 4.  I will need to practice a lot to be ready for the beginning of the WCA Crank Daddy’s season, now just two weeks away.

Having the right equipment will help, and to that end I picked up a 2011 Diamondback Steilacoom RCX, which I consider to be nicely-equipped for someone of my abilities and ambitions.  It has an aluminum frame with an Easton EC70X carbon fork (alloy steerer), FSA headset and crank (36/46T), Shimano 105 shifters, derailleurs, chain and cassette (12-27T, 10-speed), SRAM Avid Shorty 4 cantilever brakes, a BB30-standard bottom bracket (crazy stiff!), a WTB Valcon Pro saddle (so nice I might get one for my road bike), and Equation CX20 (house-brand) wheels with Michelin Cyclocross Mud 2 700x30 tires.  The bike came without pedals so I installed a pair of double-sided Shimano M520 SPDs that I already had.

Cleaner than it ever will be again!

The Steilacoom will serve as my cyclocross / gravel grinder / rec trail bike … hopefully for years to come.  The Giant FCR3 was good to me but it really is a flatbar road bike and not ideally suited for what I asked it to do.  Its future includes a thorough cleaning, re-lubrication, and then new ownership.  I intend to sell my Easton EA70 wheelset, too, and the proceeds from these sales will offset much of the cost of the new bike.  Eventually the Steilacoom’s stock wheels will have to be upgraded, but it won’t be this year.  I still have to pay for a USA Cycling license and some race entries!

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