Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Crossing Over

My road season has come to a close with nothing special to write home about. No podiums, some big disappointments, but a good foundation layer to build on. It wasn't totally out of left field, moving up into CAT4 for the season, while I don't think it was unwarranted from an experience / skill standpoint, was probably a bit over my fitness level. Nonetheless, it was good to get roughed up some.

For now though, it's closing in on my first cross season. Cross is going to be very refreshing for me... I have absolutely nothing to compare to, and no expectations. I also have no power meter, cadence sensor or any other way to obsess over every metric involved in it.  That is primarily by design... I don't want to know how many watts I need to put out to catch somebody... I just want to do it and see what happens. Cross, at least currently in my mind... is a vacation from the structure of racing.

That said, I'm probably woefully unprepared.  My experience riding off road is pretty much limited to my ill-fated foray into Mountain Biking (which my wife will attest was one of the most pitiful things ever witnessed by another human.)  The big difference? I have drop bars (thankfully) and a handy knack for riding out some rough patches on a road bike.

It's like riding a bike, only in nature... not my element.

Jimmy managed to drag me out a couple of weekends ago to do some gravel climbing, which I enjoyed despite not taking any nutrition and bonking... and then recently we went out in the woods near my house to a couple of mountain biking trails and really gave me a crash course in staying upright over some scary (at least to me) terrain. The first downhill root section we hit I was sure was going to end my life, as I follow Jimmy's line with my crotch literally on the stem, riding my poor Raleigh more like a bronco than a bicycle. I survive and even keep it upright... something I think I will give credit to my Fango tubular front tire.

As a bonus, my home built and glued Major Toms held up excellently in the adventures. Wheelbuilding level up.

After that butt clenching moment I actually managed to find my "equilibrium" and even enough confidence to lead out a hot lap... in which we nearly collided with two stoners meandering around in the woods getting high.  Despite all of this, I had a great time... it felt more like how I rode my bike as a kid as opposed to how I ride as an "adult."

There's still a lot to work on, my dismounting is on par with most, but it's been a long time since I did a flying mount, and I've never done it with shoes on. (Even when I was doing a lot of tri's I often wouldn't do a flying mount due to the number of other triathletes near me... something I'll have to get over in cross. Hopefully other cross riders are slightly better handlers than triathletes though...hopefully)  and of course riding through some obstacles should be fun to watch, if not as much fun to do. There's also that whole "getting off the bike and running" thing... I'm pretty sure I haven't ran at all since 2014... we "ran" up the stairs leading to the trails (well, Jimmy ran, I jogged) and I very nearly had to stop halfway up and catch my breath! I was never a good runner, but now it's getting silly!

coming up the stairs nearly dead.

Thanks so much for checking out the blog! I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock


  1. Glad to see you're doing well! I clicked on the blog after seeing you drop some great tech info on ST. Keep experimenting with that CX setup. The setup that works for a technical CX course might make you feel like a circus bear on a tiny bike compared to what 'feels' right for gravel/road.

    Gravel and endurance road fit are pretty much the same. CX fit is going to take some cues from the mt bike world. Going quite a bit shorter and higher is perfectly normal. The quick and dirty would be to -20mm from your gravel/road stem length and flip it to positive rise. Say you're currently comfortable on a 110mm stem at -6 degrees. Grab a 90mm stem and set it up at +6. See how the twisty, slick and downhill stuff feels then.

    I know you know how a TT/Tri/Road fit should feel. Ignore that 'feel' when figuring out the CX fit. It should be somewhat compact and upright where you can throw your bodyweight around at ease. If you still have the mountain bike, that would be good training too.

    Nice work on the wheel build. I'm just about to start my 2nd. Go team Raleigh!

    1. Hey Patrick,

      thanks for the information on the CX fit, I'll definitely have to play with it a bit more.
      Love the Raleigh!