Hi all --
At the end of the summer I picked up a cyclocross bike for a decent price at the LBS. At the time I thought it might be fun to participate in some 'cross races to break up the monotony of indoor training and to force myself to do some high-intensity efforts this time of year. I have, indeed, raced some cross, and I'm loving the scene, the venues, and the friendly competition.
Far beyond all of that, though, I'm ecstatic at the versatility of these bicycles. I'd read what I regarded as hyperbole and cliche about 'cross bikes, but the reality is, in my view, even more compelling than the stories. The flexibility to do, say, twenty miles on asphalt, then jump onto dirt roads for twelve more, take that singletrack shortcut, get back on asphalt again, then take the back way home (whatever the "back way" may be) has completely changed my attitude about riding. Now, instead of dragging my feet before going out in the chilly weather for a training ride, I look forward to it. All those boring road loops that I do on the road bike can now be modified to include substantial time on dirt roads where the traffic is light and the views are terrific. Moreover, I've found that I can ride a lot of the local mountain bike trails as long as I don't expect to bomb through the rough sections.
As a result, I now think about riding in terms of loops that have just about equal parts (time-wise) road and off-road, and these rides are fresh and new even though they are composed of parts that are individually very familiar. Or when I head up to Vermont to ride with the Bennington crew, we can easily do four hours on the seemingly endless dirt roads up there without seeing more than two or three cars. I thought my friend Jon was nuts when he sold his road bike and instead bought a nice pair of spare wheels with slicks for pure road days on the 'cross bike, but now it doesn't seem so crazy.
There's no doubt that all of this can be achieved on just a mountain bike, and I'm often joined on these rides by friends who don't have 'cross bikes. I'm enough of a roadie, though, to crave the position and ethos of road bike riding (e.g., railing corners at high speed in the drops, paceline drills, town line sprints, climbing out of the saddle with hands on the hoods) that the 'cross bike affords.
Okay, end of sales pitch. Just wanted to share my giddy enthusiasm.
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Thread: Celebrating the cyclocross bike
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