Wiggle CX Century – Preparing the Bike
With many modern ‘cross bikes sporting fairly race orientated geometry I thought a little tweak to my positioning might be in order. While that racy position is great for an hour blasting around your typical cyclo-cross course, the CX Century calls for a more relaxed ride. With the whole day looking to be at least ten hours in the saddle I’ve raised my bars slightly to allow a slightly more upright position. However, I didn’t want to get too sit-up and beg, as I am after a decent time for this first running of the CX Century.
Along with a more upright position, I’ve swapped my usual saddle for an old San Marco. It’s got more padding than I would normally like, but I figure that with my new position I’m going to have more weight on the saddle and my derriere will probably appreciate the extra plushness! Between the saddle and the frame is Canyon’s VCLS Post 2.0. With it’s carbon spring helping to reduce some of the trail chatter without wasting any of my effort, I’m hoping this combination of tyre, saddle and seat-post should see me to the finish in a better state than previous attempts. My training rides so far certainly back this up.
Something that you will see on pro rider’s bikes during the cobbled classics, is double wrapped bars. I found on one of my rides along the South Downs Way that my gloves had worn the tape away just behind the hoods. There was also a corresponding hole in my gloves and the heel of my palm. So the extra padding here is definitely needed. There are various gel paddings that you can buy, but a double layer of tape is cheaper and you don’t have to worry about getting it in the right place.
While we’re looking at handlebars, consider what’s between them and you, your gloves. I usually wear no gloves on the road, but off road is different. The constant vibration and the increased chance of an ‘off’ mean I always wear them on the ‘cross bike. Make sure you’ve worn your’s for an extended period. I found short finger road gloves rubbed on my fingers on longer rides, so I will be changing to Danish firm GripGrab Shark Gloves gloves. It’s a little thing, but avoiding all those little niggles should make for a more enjoyable ride.
A little tip I can pass on, that I’ve learnt from previous attempts on the South Downs Way, is take some spare lube. A hundred miles of chalky dryness sucks any lube from your chain, leaving it sounding like a rusty commuter. To save the squeaking from driving you mad a small bottle tucked away will ease that tortured chain. Don’t be surprised when you do start applying it, if you’re suddenly surrounded by similarly afflicted riders!
I’ll be swapping my Northwave Hammer CX shoes for something a little more summery and suited to longer rides. I’ve just take delivery of a pair of Lake MX175 shoes. These look to be a lot more practical for a long day in the saddle. The Boa lacing system is new to me, but looks like it will spread the load over the foot and avoid hot spots. I’ve ridden Lake shoes before and found them comfortable and incredibly tough, just right for the South Downs Way.
The last bit of kit I would recommend is a GPS computer, or failing that a good ol’ fashioned paper map of the route. Although the South Downs Way is well sign-posted, there are a few places where it is easy to lose the route and after a long day, back tracking is not want you want. While an OS map never runs out of charge or loses satellite lock, it can be a pain to carry on a bike. For that reason and so I can record my awesomeness, I’m trying out the Sigma Rox 10. The Rox 10 is Sigma’s first GPS equipped bike computer, so it will be interesting to see how it behaves.
So with only a few days to go training is done, the bike is ready that just leaves me checking the weather in the run up to the CX Century. The last couple of weeks have been dry and the South Downs Way has been fast and dusty. There is a possibility of rain, which should drain quickly, leaving us to worry about avoiding heat stroke; I’ll be sure to drink loads and slap on the sun cream…
This first running of the CX Century looks to be a real blast and I know certain riders are aiming to put down a fast time, will you be that rider? Let us know.
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