Cyclocrozz Enthusiasticity!

Roll Up! Roll Up!

Tired of your fixie? Realised freewheels are great? Want to be part of the next big thing™?

Cyclocross is for you!

Not only this, there’s an endless supply of things to buy. We have crabon, lots of crabon. And you can buy it regularly since cyclocross features lots of mud meaning all your parts will wear out quickly meaning you can replace it quicker with the latest in innovation.

The Otley Cyclocross Race

I’d never been to a cyclocross race before (so take this all with a pinch of salt). Ben was riding it so I took the family along to have look – it being just down the road and all. It was muddy, very muddy. Taking place on a sports field and dipping in and out of the woods. It looked pretty busy from an entries point of view and there were quite a few spectators too – mostly families and SOs. I was pleasantly surprised.


Ben showed us all how it’s (not) done by having a lot of fun, finishing a convincing last, and doing an extra lap because of miscommunication with the finish line official. But he looked to enjoy it and had a great workout. We’re very proud of you Ben.

At one point on the push back to the van to load the bike that Ben had ridden I pushed it for a minute. The wheels barely moved round they were so hindered by mud, leaves, and debris. And that’s when it hit me. Cyclocross bikes are completely unfit for purpose.

Unfit for Purpose

Cyclocross bikes – basically a roadbike with marginally fatter tires, and mud clearance that sucks. I saw no one get into the drops, and the aero-dynamic crabon wheelsets did nothing to cut through the air. 1mph doesn’t really benefit from fairings.

Why is this? Some kind of legacy cycling discipline that ages back to pre mountain bikes and has some kind of tradition that can’t see the completely obvious yet can sell the latest technology that actually does nothing to improve the sport? Only discs brakes (that a few were using) might bring a marginal improvement – and not to the braking because the riders were hardly going fast enough to warrant the power of a disc – no, the improvement was slightly increased mud clearance. This time going from 1mm clearance to 2mm! (Buy Buy!)

Here’s my Bright Idea

Use a rigid 29er mountain bike. Put fairly narrow flat bars on so you don’t rip the other competitors to pieces – 23inch was all the rage back in 1996 so lets start there (or you could even make use of those dildo bars that are now cluttering up your shed from your fixie obsession last year). Put in your cyclocross wheels. You’ll have miles of mud clearance. You’ll have so much you can stick your fist between the wheel and the fork leg. You can buy as much carbon as you want (that should keep the local bike shop mailorder company happy) to build a bike that weighs less than the mud you would have collected on your standard CX bike, and it can potentially cost you thousands. You’ll still have your fun and you’ll give yourself the incredible advantage over the competition – wheels that turn at the start of the race and will still be turning one minute into the race when everyone else is suddenly struck down immense glooping friction.

2 thoughts on “Cyclocrozz Enthusiasticity!

  1. Carl and I were talking about CX before he popped over to watch – glad to hear Ben enjoyed it!

    My assumption is that there are rules/limitations on what constitues a CX bike, so while there are a multitude of inefficiencies, everyone is bound by the same ones in an effort to level the playing field and keep the competition interesting.

    But I do completely empathise with your frustration of inefficiency – and of course the observation that people just love any excuse to buy new bits.

    CX looks pretty grueling but also a lot of fun. I like the mud aspect.

  2. Graham is right in that there are restrictions if you are racing at an Elite level. So the UCI for example has stated you can use flat bars but they have to be narrower than a certain width.

    I acutally like drops on the CX bike though, I used them on Sunday on the lower field because there was a head wind at times and normally I would use them descending.

    That course though meant it was hard to get up the slope on to the bike and then into the drops before the descent so I used them less.

    In terms of mud clearance, I think with carbon yes you could create a bike with bigger clearances and not add to much to the weight but you have to also consider the chainset you are looking to use and the overall geometry of the bike. More clearance at the rear generally leads to a longer wheelbase which isn’t as nimble in terms of handling.

    I was also gathering more mud because I lacked confidence and speed so it was sticking to me more I think, the fast guys definitely seemed to be cleaner.

    I’d love some lighter/more expensive components for my Cyclocross adventures, however at the end of the day it’s not going to mean I suddenly go from 31st to top ten. Step one in taking it ‘seriously’ would be to do some interval training which wouldn’t cost anything, I’m not sure I want to take it seriously.

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