Crossing into the fall on my new bike

We buy a lot of new bikes around this blog. I think I’ve documented most of the purchases here. And I might be a particularly good/bad person for accumulating bikes of many kinds. Just this past Christimas I got a new Cannondale road bike, a 2013 Cannondale Super Six Evo Ultegra Di2.

It’s certainly true that I write quite a bit about bikes and new bike lust. See New bike lust and How many bikes is too many? and My dream fleet.

I seem to attract bikes. This year I even won a bike thanks to the university’s green raffle that gave you one entry form each time you used your own coffee mug. Unbeknownst to me I had a friend (thanks Rob!) putting my name on his ballots every day. But I really didn’t need a another commuting bike so I gave that one to a neighbourhood friend whose bike had been stolen.

But now I have a new cyclocross bike! It’s also a Cannondale, a 2014 SuperX black Inc, with Stans Iron Cross wheels. How did that happen? Well, I’ve owned a cx bike for commuting for a few years and I really like it. I’ve also been watching friends do some fun looking gravel rides and thinking it would be fun to ride through the fall and into the early winter.

As blog readers mostly know, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year and had surgery to remove my thyroid. Everything went well and I’m fine (no further treatment required) but it turned out I was eligible for an insurance payment for getting ill. You know the policies that sound like “death, dismemberment, and disability.” I didn’t need the money–thanks Canadian health care– and I didn’t want to claim it. I was nervous that it felt like calling in sick when you’re actually fine. (I always worry that if I do that I’ll actually get sick.) My partner is more practical. He works for a bank. And he’s good at talking me into things. “Would you claim it if you got a new cx bike with the money?” Um, yes, I might. And we did. And I have a new bike. Thanks thyroid cancer? I guess.


I’ve registered for my first event, Hallocross, a Halloween cyclocross race, of course. So I guess I better learn to ride it. I’ve got some friends who are taking me out Thursday to give it a go. I’ll report back for sure.

These days I’m reading things like this: Cyclocross 101 for Newbies and How to Bunny Hop Like a Boss.

What’s the difference between a cyclocross bike and a road bike? You can read a bit about that here.

Do you ride a cyclocross bike? Do you do any cx racing? Got any advice for a beginner with lots of road and some track riding experience?

The women of cyclocross

Gravel racing

4 thoughts on “Crossing into the fall on my new bike

  1. Sam,
    Long time reader here, first time commenter. I love your blog and I REALLY love cyclocross. I’m a 41 year old academic that is regionally competitive in CX and MTB, and also do gravel events in the spring (that is big business outside of Chicago, where I live) and have raced on the track and in road events some. Anyhoo, CX is where it is AT when it comes to bike racing! Fun, family and spectator friendly, and a great example of how cycling events can meet multiple needs through a “business in the front, party in the rear” approach. I’m a USAC Cat 3 in CX, train pretty seriously, but tend to finish fairly mid-pack (someone has to, and being middle aged, having a 2 year old and being a full time academic at an R1 are my excuses!).

    Anyway, in terms of advice here is some:
    1) Make sure your tires aren’t overinflated. As low as you can go without pinchflatting is what you want. I’m 140 pounds and put about 28 pounds of pressure in the rear.
    2) In CX, unlike some other events, position is key. So work on those starts and get off the line as fast as possible. As a newbie your race is likely only 30 minutes. Think of it as a 30 minute sprint–there is no settling in.
    3) Spend some time getting your dismounts and remounts right while you are first learning to do it. Once you develop the dreaded “stutter step” it is almost impossible to break (speaking from experience here).
    4) Remember that falling on grass and dirt at around 10mph doesn’t hurt, so don’t be afraid to fall.
    5) Cornering is the key to speed in CX, so practice getting through corners as fast as you can go. Look through the turn and keep your weight on your outside hand. Slow in, fast out. Sprint out of every corner.
    6) Since sprinting is your thing, use that to your advantage by sprinting through every straightaway, instead of using that as a time to catch your breath. Lots of new folks make the mistake of relaxing there, when really the course will give you lots of places to catch your breath when it forces you into slow speed sections.
    7) See if there is a local practice in your area. Lots of clubs have them informally throughout the fall, esp. at this time while it is still light late. Usually Wed nights.

    Feel free to contact me directly if you want to talk!

    1. Thanks! I’m going out tomorrow with a local group for my first time. Do you want to write a guest blog post on getting started in cyclocross and why women might want to give it a try? We’d love to have you.

  2. I ride a cross bike for my long trips (50 miles or more, or multi-day). I stay mostly on roads or paved paths where possible, but I wanted something that also worked on dirt/gravel roads. I love it. It’s sturdy enough that I can load up the panniers and stable when loaded. I do have to be careful to keep it clean to avoid chain slipping and gear lockup.

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