CX SEARCH

Ally Mud CX

 

Here is a little marketing AIDA bike related story…

A few years ago I moved back to Massachusetts after living in Alabama for a decade plus. I was a pretty active cyclist at the time. I raced road, track, and mountain bikes. Loved them all in their own way and was considered a dedicated roadie. From a cycling stand point I have pretty much tried it all. But there was this one elusive discipline of bike racing that I had not explored. It is called Cyclo-Cross racing or CX for short.

CX racing is time trial style racing that begins in a mass start of a 180 or so riders on a 10 yard wide course. Racers bump elbows and knuckles fighting for the hole shot to position themselves for the rest of the race. They use a modified road bike with slightly fatter tires; 23mm vs 32mm. What really differentiates it is that it is done on an off road course that necessitates the racer to dismount and carry their bike up hills and over barriers. The courses are peppered with obstacles that require skill, endurance and power. This brutally awesome sufferfest of a sport is raced in the winter months, with the sentiment that the more snow, mud or harsher elements the better. The draw to it is the desire to face these vicious elements of winter while racing your bike against other pain seeking addicts. In short – this is a hard man’s (or woman’s) sport that is done in the toughest of elements.

Unfortunately, because there is no winter to speak of in the Deep South, I had very little exposure to it. So when I moved back to New England, this was on the top of my bucket list. Before I could get started I needed to source a Cyclo-Cross bike. Knowing enough about bikes, I decided I would go with an entry level race bike, aluminum frame, entry level race groupset with a top budget of $2500. My thought here was that if I liked the sport, I could sell this bike and upgrade for the next year.

So the search began.

I started looking at reviews online and learning about the different CX specific bikes and builds. It seemed disk brakes were creeping into the sport and becoming part of the mainstream for CX racing. (A- Awareness). I was very familiar with them from mountain biking, but uncertain about my need for them on an entry level race steed that I would keep for only a year… I knew that there were two different flavors of disk brakes, mechanical and hydraulic. I used both previously on mountain bikes. I knew that the mechanical brakes do a much better job at stopping than rim brakes but requires a little more maintenance. On the other hand the hydraulic brakes do an even better job of stopping in all conditions, but require slightly more maintenance and cost a significant more than mechanical disk brakes.

I started to think I would probably get the disk brakes, but wasn’t sure which flavor to go with. (I-Interested). I decided to talk to the guys at the local bike shop. My daughter worked there the previous summer and I knew these guys were pretty straight. After having some conversations with them I realized most all of the mechanics felt pretty strongly about the benefits disk brakes. They seemed to think that hydraulics were trending and becoming the norm. One of the major companies was just starting to release them to the public for sale. It would take time for them to become a staple of the CX racing community, as the other two major component manufactures had yet to come out with their own versions, but they were on the way.

That thought weighed in on my thinking…   I knew I wanted to sell this bike in the future, probably at the end of the race year. If I turned it around quickly, the mechanical disk brakes would probably not affect the re-sale value. I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra $$cash$$ I was going to have to drop though.

A few weeks later I found myself at the US mecca of CX racing; the GP Gloucester. That was the day I knew for sure I was going to try my hand at CX racing. The undulating course was set up at a local park overlooking the bay. The weather was cold and the park was packed with spectators. There was a beer garden in the middle of the course, pro tents everywhere and spectators heckling the racers as they passed by. You could tell all the racers were deep in the pain cave suffering and living on the rivet… I was smitten.

I watched some of the races and observed the constant demand on brakes in corners, dirt and muddy descents. I knew in a month’s time this same type of racing was going to have an additional element… snow… I continued to walk around and take it all in. I stopped at some of the pro tents to check things out. I talked to the mechanics and looked at the team bikes. This is one of the greatest things about pro bike racing; spectators can walk right up to any pro or pro team at any time and talk about anything you like. It was evident from the conversations that all the pro teams were on hydraulic disk brakes. I pretty much knew what I was going to have to do (D – Desire); drop the $$cash$$ and buy the bike with the hydraulic disk brakes… There was no real fighting it once that realization happened. On the drive home that day I picked up the phone and ordered a CX bike with Hydraulic disk brakes. A – Action -Done.

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