It’s not about the dyke…. Adventures in cyclocross

So always up for a new challenge, Ali and I have entered Hit The North.  

Just one slight problem, we don’t own ‘cross bikes, we don’t really know how to ride them either. This could be interesting.

Now for many years I’ve  had a bit of a fasination with ‘cross, I’m not sure why. When I started cycling all those years ago I had friends who were into it. I used to go and watch. Back then it was always a sport that roadies did in the winter, not like today where it’s growing faster than ever. I watched local races, the Nationals, the Kenilworth Boxing Day fancy dress ‘cross and of course the Three Peaks. I loved how it looked so utterly bonkers.

However, I’ve always been a bit scared of it too. It seemed like everyone already knew what they were doing. Anyone who’s seen me try to ride off road will chuckle to themselves at the prospect of me learning ‘cross. I’m not the most technical of riders, I’m fine to ride for hours and hours preferably uphill, but my descending could do with some work.

I’ve borrowed Chipp’s Kinesis Pro6 bike a few times. It’s lovely.

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 I used it to plot the route for Mills Hills ‘cross route. I found myself enjoying it more and more. I’ve always thought that as a fell runner, I had no need for an off road bike, prefering to explore on foot. I came to notice that, what I like to run, is very hard to ride, and often as it’s footpaths or open moors, it’s unrideable. I’m not one for running on green lanes, on a ‘cross bike however new routes we’re unfolding. Places I’d not bothered with suddenly looked interesting.

Now whilst Chipps has been very kind letting me use his bike, it’s not fair and I started to think about one for myself. There’s Clif ‘cross to plot and with all the new routes to join up, I really need a bike for myself. What worried me was trying to sneak another bike past Ali! 

Ali had come out on the route recce of Mills Hills, she began by cursing the lack of suspension on GreatRock‘s Decade Tripster. By the end of the ride however she was asking me if she could have a ‘cross bike as it was such fun!

Then it felt like the whole of Twitter was talking about Hit The North. Entry had just opened, somehow we had entered too! 

Sometimes you do something and it feels like a huge door opens. Whilst Ali has done a course with GreatRock for her birthday last year, I never have. Mark ‘Sparky’ Turner and Alan Dorrington are running womens ‘cross training and also putting on a women only ‘cross race on 15th December. Racing ‘cross will be an interesting leveller for Ali and I too. Whilst I have more power and endurance, Ali will often beat me down twisty hills with her balance and technical skill. Although Sparky assures me that I’ll be doing running mounts before I know it!

All that remains is the bike. Much badgering of Dom and my team issue bike for next year will be a Kinesis UK EVO5. A pure race machine, EEK! So I’ll build it up with 105 and Reynolds Assault wheels, this may sound extravagant but those wheels sure are strong, they got such a pasting round the Bowland Badass earlier in the year without a scratch on them. They’re light too so when I chicken out and run with the bike it will be easier.

However I’ve got loads to learn! Like loads…. so here’s some questions I’d like some help with for the build…

Handlebars – Do you have wider for ‘cross? Do I still want compact drop FSA that I’ve found so comfy on my GF-Ti?

Set up – Do I ride in the same position as road?

Tyres – what width, type? Is there such a thing as a tyre that’s just like the inov8 Baregrip200 that I run in?

Brakes? That’s just a whole new world!

And on a shallow note, do I really have to add the extra weight of valve caps 😉

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After all it’s not about the dyke!

 

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