What Is Cyclocross?

When I mention that I race Cyclocross , most folks look at me with a quizzical look on their face.

Many say “that’s like mountain biking right” ? Umm..well..

I then spend the next couple of minutes trying to explain the ins and outs of what I feel to be the most fun you can have racing your bike.

Looking for great way to boost your fitness and keep things rolling into the winter ? Look no further than cyclocross..

The video below comes via YouTube and gives the general idea of what the idea of Cyclocross is , yes it’s a race but it is so much more !

Don’t let the title of the video scare you , for us “CXers” it is meant as an hour of pure twisted fun !

Video courtesy of Etaylor45 (youtube)

Give “Cross” a try and you will not regret it. You can use your existing mountain bike or hybrid if you don’t want to drop any $$ on a new bike to start.

When you get the bug to get more “into” the great world of CX we can help you with the basics and more.

We have a good selection of cyclocross bikes and gear to get you set up as well as an experienced racer on hand to help answer your questions.

Hey ladies! We now have ladies specific cyclocross bikes available for ya!

Let the fun begin…

Trial By Fire : A First Timer’s Cyclocross Ride

EAS nutrition is sending Sam Tickle across America to try 30 different sports in 30 different days. The idea being that with proper nutrition and recovery working out on consecutive days should be within your reach. Today Sam is trying cyclocross for the first time. As with almost everyone who tries cross , Sam has a smile on his face and some burnin’ in his legs. Check it out..

2011 Trek XO 1 Our Impressions..

The 2011 Trek XO 1 in it’s stock form .

When it came time last summer to decide on a new cyclocross bike it was a tough decision to make. With most of our suppliers making a cross bike these days I had to decide on which bike would be the best bang for my buck and would also give me a very good chance at being competitive . On top of this I wanted a bike that would also sub in as my road bike or commuter if needed.

After much deliberation I decided to go with the 2011 Trek XO. Offered in two models ( the 1 and the 2 ! ) I went with the first model in the lineup being the 1 . Both bikes share the same frame and fork but offer different component groups. Also for my application I would be using parts from last year’s race bike that I still had lying around.

For 2011 the XO 1 comes in a silver/black semi gloss combo . The XO’s tube shapes vary depending on their usage on the bike and weld spots are very clean. The XO has it’s own look, it’s clean looking with a very understated look of speed.

In stock form the XO 1 sports Sram’s newest parts group called Apex. Right out of the box Apex is a great parts group for this bike’s price range. Apex will give you great performance and durability at a very affordable price .

Wheel duty on the XO 1 is handled by Bontrager’s very trusty and time tested SSR standard spoked wheelset. This wheelset has been ridden , raced and commuted on by thousands of riders over the past couple of years with great results.

The XO’s cockpit is made up of Bontrager Race & Race Lite bars/stem/seatpost/saddle . Bontrager parts are awesome when it comes to the ever important strength/weight/value ratio. Again , at this price range it would be tough to find better parts for your money.

Now for the heart of this sweet ride , the frame and fork. Trek builds their XO frames with their Alpha Black aluminum . They then match the frame to their Race Lite cross carbon fork.

Check out the pressed fit bb86 and lack of cross member at chainstay are to allow for more mud clearance !

Trek has thrown a large amount of technical aspects  into these frames that riders and racers will really appreciate.

A pressed fit bb86 bottom bracket was used to add stiffness to the pedaling platform and reducing a few grams for the frame.

Frame mounted rear brake stop with barrel adjuster is a nice touch.

Trek also added a rear brake stop with a tension adjuster included , this is great for making quick brake adjustments especially if a quick wheel change is needed !

For those of us that would use this bike/frameset for racing Trek runs the brake/shift cables on top of the top tube and has flattened the under side of the top tube for more comfort during shouldering.

A fork mounted front brake stop is used to help reduce “fork shudder” under hard front braking !

Another nice feature Trek used is the fork mounted front brake stop to help reduce front “brake shudder” that sometimes plagues cyclocross bikes that are built with cantilever brakes.

Due to the stiff yet compliant  Bontrager carbon fork and fork mounted brake stop I noticed very little if any brake shudder form the front brakes while riding the XO .

Overall this bikes rides very nicely as compared to other aluminum framed cross bikes I have ridden. Trek payed alot of attention to wall thickness and butting when choosing their tubing for this frame. The XO also sports slightly flattened seat stays and a wishbone style seatstay/seat tube junction which adds lateral stiffness to the rear end under hard efforts but is still forgiving enough to allow you to remain in the saddle and apply power to the pedals over choppy sections. Steering is spot on and being a former elite level downhiller bike handling is a huge issue in choosing my bikes, if a bike tracks like a noodle I’m loosing ground and I’m not ok with that. The XO handles like it’s on rails , even taking on extreme off cambers like it’s on flat ground. During the past race season I was able to pull of several crash defying passes simply to the Trek’s ability to hold a line. Where my fitness may have held me back in certain scenarios the XO simply did not and that to me is a testimate to a great bike.

For those of us that would use the XO as a “jack of all trades ” bike Trek has included two water bottle mounts and removable fender mounts as well as chain watcher !

Simply put you would be hard pressed to find a better value all rounder in today’s market place.

The XO 1 shown in this test is currently available for purchase in different frame sizes .

Retail price is $1649.99 .

Now on sale in store only ! $1529.99

Dedhambike.com for more info !

The XO will help get you to the podium !

A Tale Of Two Trainers

Well it’s upon us.  Indoor trainer season is here. For many cyclists it has become either too cold or it’s getting dark before you are able to get out for your ride.

For many avid cyclists this can mark the beginning of the “off-season” and for those of you that consider yourselves more of the “weekend warrior” it can mean putting the bike away all together.

Well for both types of rider that doesn’t have to be the case.

Thanks to indoor trainer options you no longer have to stop riding or go outside and brave the sometimes harsh elements that New England winters can throw at us.

Unlike going to the gym or taking a “spin” class an indoor trainer allows you to continue riding your own bike. This means that when the nice weather rolls around again and it’s time to go out and hit the road or trails you don’t need to get used to bike all over again ! This can cut down on early season injuries as well.

A few years ago we only had a couple of options as far as riding indoors went. You either had rollers which can be very difficult if not unsafe to ride for most people or you had a very loud wind resisted stationary trainer. To many of us neither option was very appealing at the time , all but the die hard cases amongst us chose either.

Today there are options that range from the old “wind  trainer” , magnetic or fluid resisted options of trainers. Rollers still exist but now have an option that will hold the front end of your bike in place and are a fun option that has become much safer for the more balance challenged of us.

In the past two years I have spent the majority of my indoor training time sitting on two different models of trainer from one the bigger names in the business.

CycleOps trainers have been around for years and have one of the best if not the best names in trainers. Riders have logged millions of miles on their products over the years and CycleOps has helped thousands maintain if not gain on their previous year’s fitness gains.

My main goal here is to give a little insight into my experience with the two primary units I have used over the past 3-4 years and my thoughts on both experiences.

Trainer # 1  CycleOps Fluid2 

When Fluid trainers became the next big thing I quickly grabbed a Fluid2 trainer and ran home and set if up.

Immediately I noticed how quiet the fluid resistance unit was compared to the wind trainers of old. The unit itself is almost totally silent. Any noise you hear will be from the contact area of the tire on the metal drum area of the trainer. It is also important to note that the more smooth the tire the less noise you will have. Another important note is making sure you keep your tire pressure up to snuff. A soft tire makes more noise and can create unwanted drag on the trainer .

The frame of the Fluid2 is very stable. At times I have found myself on other manufacturer’s  trainers warming up at races or at a friend’s house and some of these other trainers did not feel as stable , especially during harder efforts.

Setting the bike up on the trainer is quite easy. After initial assembly while following the easy to follow directions you will spend a few minutes setting up the over sized quick release that creates the tension that “locks” the bike into the unit itself.

I highly suggest using an all metal quick release skewer in your bike if at all possible. Many of the higher end skewers coming on bikes today simply do not mesh well with the mounting areas on the trainer. CycleOps does a good job at supplying an all metal skewer with most of their trainers in my experience.

Once the bike is in the trainer and your tire pressure has been checked bring the resistance unit into contact with the tire. I suggest making a small dimple in the tire where contact is made to ensure proper contact has been made and the tire wont slip under a harder effort.

Next you will want to think about leveling the bike in the trainer. When a bike is mounted it will raise the tail end on the bike a bit higher than the front end. You can use a phone book or two to do this or pick yourself up a riser block when you purchase your trainer.

At this point I noticed a few things while riding the Fluid2.

It is very smooth once properly set up , pedaling is smooth and very quiet under pressure .

You can really hammer on this trainer. Getting out of the saddle is no problem .

One thing I did notice which is what prompted me to try out the next trainer on my list was something that may not be an issue to some riders but may be a problem for others. That was the resistance curve attached to the fluid unit. The harder you push on the pedals and the higher your wheel revolutions get the more the trainer pushes back.

Now some people may see this as a blessing and for many it should be but for people who have predetermined power training zones it can be a real head scratcher .

When riding at my prescribed power training zones my RPE (rate of perceived exertion) was much higher than that of being out on the open road.

Seeing as how I use my trainers for doing a heavy dose of 10-30 minute intervals this could at times become an issue. At times the sometimes drastic change of feel in resistance from road to trainer can become difficult to deal with. Now some folks may love the increase in perceived resistance especially when doing shorter , more intense intervals it can be nice but when doing FTP intervals of 20 minutes in January it can be far less enjoyable.

However, I did find the Fluid2 to be perfect for getting in base miles and slightly higher intensity workouts in. But, due to the sharp power curve with the Fluid2 it is very difficult to maintain your proper power zones with real world RPE for longer periods of time while doing Sub-threshold intervals and above.

The Fluid2 has served me well for a couple years now. I have logged thousands of miles on it at this point it is still working great.

A great trainer for a rider who is looking for something  better than a wind or magnetic trainer for their indoor workouts.

The Fluid2 retails for $314.99 and is currently available .

Trainer #2  CycleOps Supermagneto Pro

After struggling with the differences in feel from the outdoors to my Fluid2 I did some research and discovered that due to the preset power curve in the Fluid2 the only way to align my power and heart rate zones with real world RPE was to do some math and change my zones to fit the trainer’s power curve better.

I did this for a while but then I decided it was time to try a different trainer with more adjustebility in it’s power curve. (The power curve being how much resistance the trainer offers in response to wheel speed ).

Having had such good luck with previous CycleOps products I wanted to stay with the brand.

I decided to give the Supermagneto Pro a whirl.

Now this trainer works on magnetic resistance . Isn’t that taking a step down in quality you may ask. Originally I had the same feeling until my first ride on this thing.

Having ridden lower priced and more basic magnetic trainers in the past (which do their intended job admirably by the way) I couldn’t fathom how a magnetic trainer could come close to the smooth ride and quiet operation of a fluid trainer. My concerns were quickly put to rest upon riding the Supermagneto Pro.

First off , the construction is every bit as nice as the Fluid2 and better. The base of the trainer itself is even more beefy that it’s little brother and unlike the Fluid2 which uses semi hard rubber push on feet on the bottom of the legs and base the Supermag uses nicer adjustable feet. This comes in very handy if you are using it on an uneven floor.

Next thing I noticed was the nicer mounting system on the SuperMag. CycleOps uses a nicer adjustment knob with incremental adjustabilty for an even more precise mount than the Fluid2. There is even an added safety measure that makes loosening during a workout near impossible. Worry free sprints for the win !

Now onto my biggest reason for wanting to try this trainer out, it’s adjustable power curve.

The SuperMag has four resistance or power curve settings.

Setting one is the easy setting designed for very easy days or recovery rides.

Setting two is a real world road feel. Great for volume days and tempo rides.

Setting three is your interval setting. Great for mid to upper intensity workouts were you want the trainer to match your intensity.

Setting four is your hill climb or hardest setting. This setting will really make you feel like you are in the mountains.

I have spent most of my time on this unit in settings 2 and 3. As I mentioned above 20-30 min intervals make up a big chunk of my training while indoors and setting 2 works great for giving a real world feel to these longer intervals and allowing me to keep my training zones and RPE where they should be on the road.

Setting 3 , the interval setting is great for 3-10 minute intervals. Vo2 max workouts and steady state type intervals have a great feel in this setting. I have found the RPE to be slightly higher the real world but it is very close.

This winter I will experiment more with the climbing setting, setting #4.

So far I cannot say enough about this unit. It has met all my expectations to this point and more.

It has all the great features of the Fluid2 and much more.

Increased stability over an already very stable unit in the Fluid2.

Very smooth and quiet operation as well as the ability to level it more easily.

Multiple power curve settings make this trainer give you the most real world feel of any trainer I have used to date.

For the more advanced rider who may be using a  power measuring device  by which to train as well as heart rate I highly suggest checking this unit out.

The SuperMagneto Pro retails for $419.99 and is available.

Need help getting started indoors ? Look here…

Some great indoor training workouts  can be found here once you have bought your new workout partner.

Remember , some riding is better than no riding.

Regardless of which trainer option you choose you have taken a big step towards year round cycling fitness.

Keep those pedals turning year round !



Crossin’ Over To CycloCross Racing

So this was the year that I would finally try my hand at Cyclocross or “Psychocross” as I’d heard friends refer to it as. I passed the idea by a couple members of the Dedham Bike racing squad and was met with an excitement filled “let’s do it” ! Now mind you, none of us had ever tried this side of bike racing. Some of us have extensive road or mountain bike experience but most of us had never so much as thrown a leg over the top tube of a cross bike. We all had different ideas on what was to come but one thing we all knew was it was going to be different and it was going to be fun !

Some of us spent some dough and grabbed cross bikes while others ran with what they already had. The idea was to do it as cheap as possible while still having decent enough stuff so as to not let our equipment hold us back. Yeah well the cheap route didn’t last too long and before ya knew it we were all getting new bikes and wheelsets,  I guess you could say we are all a bit competitive !

After we got all our gear issues settled we decided to hit up our 1st race out at Springfield’s Blunt Park.  Matty Bruce & I woke up to a mid 40 degrees and rainy Sunday. Let me tell those of you that haven’t done an athletic event at 8 a.m. in the morning on a cold rainy day it will definitely make you question what your idea of fun really is ! But we also knew going into the whole cross thing that weather can and will play a  part in this type of racing, it really can be a big contributor to the outcome of any type of racing but especially to Cyclocross races.

So there we were at 6 a.m. hauling down the Mass Pike in the rain wondering if we had made a mistake in thinking that we going to have fun in our new endeavor, when we both agreed that whatever the outcome we would have fun and that it was definitely better than being at work !

We arrived at Springfield at about 7 a.m. and had time to walk the course. What we saw was a super fun looking race course with all types of challenges including singletrack, a bunch of mud, barriers , slick roots and logs. We were both a bit nervous at 1st ride on the course being on new bikes with very little riding time on them but we were confident that our years of riding experience would take over and see us through just fine, because after all a “bike is a bike” in my mind.

So finally it’s time for our race , we both had signed up as Category 4 ‘s seeing as how this was our first crack at this stuff. What we didn’t know was that there were no “call ups” for staging at the start based on registration order. So as a result Matty and me ended up lining up darn near last, oh well we can make up ground easily enough right ? Haha, not so easy after all we quickly found out once the race started.

The start was about 150 yards of paved road into a hairpin turn on grass, this was like pushing 50 golfballs down the same garden hose ; you do the math. Well as it turned out we both ended up doing better than expected , out of a field of nearly 50 guys we got 12th and 19th respectively. We were both pretty jazzed by our results but we also knew we both could do better and we would.

One thing was for sure after this 1st race, we both agreed that it had been years since we had so much fun on a bike. Cyclocross is one of the hardest things you will do on a bike and at the same time one of the most fun and rewarding things as well.

Cyclocross was here to stay for the Dedham Bike crew !

Matty Donovan getting his Silver Medal(far left) after Sunday’s Cat 4 35+ race in Providence . He preceded that with a 5th on Saturday. A pretty good weekend of racing all in all !

Dedham Bike Shop

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