Hardy Lohse Capital Cross Round 3 Images

After having such a great time at Round 2 of Capital Cross, Hardy Lohse made his way out to Capital Cross Round 3 to capture the action.  Here is a gallery of his work.  Thanks Hardy.

If you are in Canberra be sure to to swing past the National Portrait Gallery to check out some of this work that is current being exhibited as part of the 2014 National Portrait Prize.

Posted in Race Reports | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CAADX – Long term review

Image

Cannondale produce, in my mind, the finest mass produced aluminium frames in the world., plenty Plenty of friends of mine have raved about the ride quality of their CAAD road frames over the years. On top of this former pro Tim Bennett was really impressed with the handling of his SuperX carbon CX bike. Combine the geometry of the SuperX and the ride quality of a CAAD frame and you have an impressive package, the CAADX.

This, combined with a very attractive deal on a bike on the shop floor, all combined to convince me to part with the sheckles and bring home the 2013 CAADX Disc to be my race bike for 2013 and beyond. The CAADX is also the weapon of choice for BrewCX rider Claire Aubrey. Claire’s perspective on this bike has also been considered as part of this review.

Choosing an aluminium bike for racing has its advantages, the anodised finish withstands abuse in the mud and at the pressure washer, and I am less nervous about rough treatment from the baggage handlers. So much so, that I just travel with a canvas bike bag, saving weight in the process and making airport transfers easier.

Typically for a modern cross bike, it has ample tyre and mud clearance.

Through the winter of 2013, I put miles on the clock, using the handy integrated rack mounts to run fenders, a useful feature if you’re trying to have the ‘do it all’ bike. Disc brakes are fantastic when a car pulls out on you in the wet. It was nice to be able to train on my race bike as well, mimicking the position on the commute and getting me comfortable with the bike.

Claire says: “I love the fact that I can race my CAADX on the weekend and commute again on Monday. Full length mud guards and panniers make commuting all year possible.”

The bike fits me well, with minimal changes required to make it suitable. The Cannondale has a reasonably long headtube and a tall headset cover, so I didn’t need to run too many spacers to suit my inflexible body. Different covers are required if you like it slammed, a la Mr Sagan. Handling is responsive, but doesn’t sacrifice stability. The lower bottom bracket compared to traditional designs like Ridley’s makes the CAADX feel better in the corners and as a commuter, while sacrificing some clearance to jumping obstacles.

While my 57cm frame is perfect for 182cm me, there are no sacrifices for riders on the other end of the height spectrum. Claire says: “It’s great to have a bike on the small end of the spectrum that you don’t need to worry about toe overlap on. I also like the oval top tube also makes life easier when carrying the bike. In terms of handling I appreciate the ability to chop and change direction quickly. The bike goes where you want it too, and has no issues “committing to the rut””

There are however, some minor drawbacks. Out of the box this bike is heavy. Mine weighed in at 10.0kgs, with a multitude of components to blame. While this bike is ostensibly Ultegra equipped, the FSA BB30 crankset is not to the standard of the rest of the components, and suffers from the BB30 creak associated with all press fit bearings. The factory spec brakes were both heavy and difficult to set up. But the stand out disappointment were the factory supplied Cannondale CX2.0 wheels. While sturdy, they are too heavy for a bike intended to be raced in the stop start environment of cyclocross, but are suitable for training and commuting. They are the obvious cost saving measure to enable the high end groupset.

The fork is a straight 1 1/8th steerer, and feels like it could use some additional stiffness both laterally and londitudinally to cope with the increased braking forces under heavy braking in grippy surfaces. I never noticed this racing on the dirt, but it is obvious under heavy braking on the bitumen.

However, the basic package is a good place to start. With many sub 6.8kg road bikes using the CAAD10 on which this bike is based, there is no fat in the frame, and the nimble and predictable handling gives plenty of promise. An Ultegra groupset is all that is required in cross, and having a spare set of wheels to train on is useful..

Claire says: “Unfortunately my 105 CAADX was stolen. Since upgrading to the Ultegra version I have been really impressed with the increase in shifting performance. Even after multiple mechanics the 105 always needed tweaking. The Ultegra groupset consistently shifts nicely day in, day out”

With the impressive base package in mind, I made a plan to turn my bike into an out and out racer.

  • Replace wheels with carbon tubular race wheels (made easier by having disc brakes, so no need to be concerned about losing braking performance). With the performance benefits that tubulars bring this is an upgrade worth taking. Your wheels can be transferred from bike to bike.

  • Replace tyres with BrewCX favourites Clement MXP

  • Replace Saddle with Fizik Antares Cannondale team edition

  • Replace brakes with TRP’s dual piston Spyre

Claire says: “I have always raced my CAADX with light race wheels on. Throwing on the tubs for the national championships weekend was amazing. They really transformed how the bike accelerated. I now have my own set of Stan’s Ironcross wheels that Paul built for me. These too make a big difference, especially on the sharp climbs like at Sydney Park for the Rapha SuperCross.”

I also managed to pick up some second hand SRAM Force cranks to complete the build, dropping it down to a very respectable 8.6kg. This has transformed the CAADX from a capable bike to a cross racing beast, quick to accelerate, confidence inspiring braking and handling, and levels of comfort that are unexpected in an aluminium bike.

I have loved racing this bike, it’s been comfortable and also fast. Easy to travel with and a good commuter when it had to be. It also looks great and turns heads, with the black anodised finish and the lime green highlights matching the Fizik saddle and bar tape.

There are examples of this bike for sale on bike exchange for around $2000. That is a fantastic deal, and if you’re in the market for a great ‘do it all’ machine or an ultimate race bike, you’d struggle to find a better place to start. I love taking a bike and putting my stamp on it, and for the money, the CAADX let me do exactly that in a way I cannot imagine being able to do on many other bikes with the same capabilities. For example, I am not concerned about the heavy wheels as I am happy swap out the wheels on race day. I second set of wheels is great for training.

Pros

- Cheap, at around $2000 for the 2013 Ultegra version or the 2014 105 version.

- Great Handling geometry. Comfortable, but fast

- Looks great

- Great base to build exactly the bike you want.

Cons

- Heavy, especially the wheels.

- Fork needs more stiffening for disc brake power.

- Factory fit disc brakes are below quality expected on this level of bike.

Overall 8/10

Posted in Tested | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capital Cross Images -Round 2

For Round 2, I convinced my mate Hardy Lohse to come along to checkout the CX races. As a graduate of ANU School of Art I was interested to see what he would come up with when he said he would bring his camera.  The atmosphere got a little distracting and Hardy was “to busy cheering” and drinking beer.  Be sure to check some more of his work here.

Posted in Race Reports | Leave a comment

Capital Cross Round 1 Images

Thanks to my good friend Bob McHugh for the image gallery from Round 1 of the Capital Cyclocross Series.

Posted in Race Reports | Leave a comment

Dear Roadies – 7 Reasons To Try Cyclocross

Dear Roadies,

It has come to our attention that the road cycling community may need a little convincing to give cyclocross a go. Here are a few great reasons to give cyclocross a try and you will hopefully see why all the cyclocross fans are addicted to its awesomeness.

1. You too could develop mad skills like Zdenek Stybar.  Stybar is the current cyclocross world champion and you may remember his displays’ of superior bike handling from either his Eneco Tour stage win or this 6th place in Pairs Roubaix last year. Riding the ‘cross series could give you a leg up for the upcoming Uriarra Roubaix

2. Cyclocross is officially the middle ground between mountain biking and road riding.  It is the only event you can race on either a CA or MTBA license.

3. A 30 minute cyclocross race is as hard as you want it too be, whilst you are suffering your are having fun at the same time.   You will struggle to find a crit that is as hard as 30 minutes of brake, accelerate, brake.

4. You can ride the Capital Cross series on any bike.  We had heaps of ‘cross bikes plus everything from single speed roadies to fat bikes.  A mountain bike is a perfect alternative.  If you own a 29er, you can put ‘cross tyres on if you want.  Our courses are design to introduce riders to cyclocross.  There are not any crazy run-ups or super technical sections however they will still make you get off your bike and challenge you to post quick lap times.  Mr Crits, Stuart Jones demonstrated this by racing the first round on a single speed with 23mm tyres.  If you are worried about your skills, checkout #SVENNESS for some tips.

5. If you need to spend time with the family, bring them along and have a picnic in the park and enjoy the evenings racing.

6.  Ladies, we have 2 grades of racing to cater for all abilities.  Canberra Cycling Club criterium champion and BrewCX team member Claire Aubrey was out there showing the boys how it’s done.

7. If you decide cyclocross is for you, it is a great opportunity to apply the N+1 or even N+2 rule.  Every pro ‘cross rider has a spare bike in the pits and multiple sets of tubulars with every tyre combination known to man.  More conservatively ‘cross bikes make awesome commuters.

To find out more about the Capital Cyclocross Series, check out the event page.

Posted in All You Need To Know | Leave a comment

Lisa Jacobs – Post World Championships Interview

We caught up with Lisa, the morning after she represented Australia in her first cyclocross world championship.  It was great to hear her insights into the race.  The future looks bright for Lisa as a cyclocross racer after her first European trip. “The calibre of women you race against in a field like this is extremely high, but not so out of reach as I thought it was

It’s also good to see Lisa is trying to network with the best.

If you missed the race you can catch up on the entire race below.

Thanks Lisa for your time.  You can follow Lisa racing via her blog http://www.ridehappy.com.au/.

Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment

2014 World Championships Preview

Greg and Paul couldn’t agree on a likely outcome for this weekends racing.  Here is a brief summary of each of our thoughts.  Enjoy the racing.

Greg’s Tips - Elite Women:

While Katie Compton has had a great season, and has beaten Marianne Vos twice in world cups this year, the Dutch 6 time world champion has been recovering from back surgery. Her form last weekend was devastating, and I doubt that anyone can match her power in the mud. The last time the race was held in Hoogerheide in 2009, Vos took the race ahead of Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) and Compton, while Kupfernagel is a 3 time world champion, she is 39, and probably no longer in the hunt. Compton is clearly the second best racer in the world, and assuming she has not asthma problems will take second. Third place is most interesting, with Sanne Cant (Belgium), Nikki Harris (UK) and Helen Wyman (UK) all showing great form. My tip is for Sanne Cant, who has been more consistent this year than either Brit.

Top 3: Vos, Compton, Cant

Greg’s Tips - Elite Men:

The most open elite men’s race in years. There are probably seven riders who are a realistic chance of taking this years title, Zdenek Stybar, Lars van der Haar, Philip Walsleben, Francis Mourey, Niels Albert, Sven Nys and an outside pick for Tom Meeusen. In 2009 the podium was Albert, Stybar, and Nys, with hometown hero Lars Boom just missing out.  I think Stybar faces the same fate, he will be super strong all race, but wont be able to convert it to a win or even a podium.  By the end of April he will have forgotten about it anyway as I think he will win Paris-Roubaix.  For me the most likely victory is van der Haar, the track is technical, and he has the form, riding within himself last week to clinch the world cup title.  Mourey also has been showing great form in the mud, and I think he will do well, but he likes to show his strength a bit too early, and will lose to the more tactically astute Dutchman.  Walsleben hasn’t been far away from the front of the race all season, but he has another year to wait I feel.  The final podium place will go to any of the three Belgians, with Nys being the most likely, but the Cannibal of Baal can often get swamped in the first half of a lap, and from there mechanicals can happen, from which it is impossible to recover.

Top 3: van der Haar, Mourey, Nys

Paul’s Tips - Elite Women

The women’s race will be a battle between Marianne Vos and Katie Compton. The riders are so closely matched it is nearly a flip a coin decision. I have named Compton as my favourite as she has had her most successful season head-to-head against Vos in recent history. If Compton takes victory, I predict Vos to be on the second step. In the event that the race is as muddy as predicted, I hope to see mud specialist Helen Wyman on the third step of the podium.

Top 3: Compton, Vos, Wyman

Paul’s Tips –  Elite Men

By virtue of starting the race we know that Zdenek Stybar means business and he believes he can take victory.  That is enough justification for me to name him as the one to beat.  The races Stybar contested over the Christmas period demonstrated he still has what it takes to feature in the biggest cross races.  His display at the Zolder World Cup was simply impressive, even if didn’t take victory.  If Stybar had not have made the last minute call to race, I would have been naming local hero Lars van der Haar as the man to beat. If you look back past Lars standout year, you will see van der Haar stood on the second step of the podium at  Hoogerheide last year.  After a quieter season, I would not be surprised to see Nys featuring in the finale.

Top 3: Stybar, van der Haar and Nys

Read more great Hoogerheide previews at Podiumcafe

2014 World Championships Preview

2009 Worlds Retrospective

 
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment