After traveling nearly 3000 miles and consuming a lifetimes worth of alcohol, pizza, cheeseburgers, donuts and ice cream cake- I’ve returned home to my house on the hill in Cordova- alive.
Bike racing is hard.
This year I’ve spent less time on this blog than I’ve spent on my bike- which isn’t much. I’ve taken very few photos as I seem to break every camera put into my hands. My phone is sometimes used- but I often forget that I can use it as a camera. What follows suit is a cycle of poor blogging- each shortfall I offer compounding the next shortfall. As my memories are dragged through coffee filters and alcohol, the days meld into one and the voices words in my head resemble the marriage of a Dr. Bronners label and a can of Four Loko. For that I’m not apologetic, it’s just like that and that’s the way it is.
Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships took place in Victoria, BC, Canada this past weekend and I was lucky enough to attend with Hodala: my CX team and some of the… how can I say… most polarizing people I know. After a red eye flight out of Anchorage, I flew into Seattle at the butt crack of dawn on a Monday. Bubba picked me and the bike up at the airport and we had some breakfast and red beers as we made our way into the city. A good friend that I see too rarely- it’s always good to cross paths and catch up. He dropped me off at Back Alley Bike Repair where Ben helped sort the wheat from the chaff on my all too neglected bike. A new chainring, chain and cables were installed along with some general maintenance performed, while we drank Berzerker and listened to Puscifer. Ben and Julian at Back Alley are solid dudes that are pumped to get people riding well maintained bikes.
Matt Falwell from Manwolfs CX came out from Louisville and I got to play tour guide around Seattle- the city I called home for 6 years. Matt was one of the organizers of Louisville last year and rode a we pretty good loop together: …
Well cyclocross season is here and with it- single speed cross! As hydraulic disc brakes are seen more and more on the market- TRP has answered the call by bringing the Hylex onto the scene. For $160 (for front or rear) you can get some full open hydraulic discs for your SSCX bike. Nice one!
Spotted over at 75grad, this beautiful singlespeed cyclocross bike built by Orlowski is a piece of art and more proof cyclocross bikes just might be the best bikes in the world (even in Germany and Poland). Unfortunately for me (and probably you) the article is in German. Check out the photos of the frame building process and the finished frame HERE. Maybe we can get FLX to translate the article for us…
It’s June and cycling is back in the minds of the masses. Families and couples are taking trips to the park for picnics and casual rides. You see more commuters on the roads as the summer weather makes the ride to work as much of a pleasure as a way to save some money. Bike tourers abound. Mountain, track and road racing are in full swing, and you can even watch pro racing on the television. There are of course those of us that- though we enjoy the sunshine, are looking forward to fall- the rain, mud and cold in combination with the camaraderie and beer drinking that defines northwest cyclocross.
During last year’s cross season, Joe at Traitor Cycles in Bellingham sent me their new offering- THE CRUSADE. I received it in the middle of helping put together the SSCXWC (which was amazing) and mainly because of a lack of time- I was unable to build it. 2010 was my entry into racing cyclocross and though I didn’t get to race the SSCXWC I finished out the season with a few MFG and Seattle Cyclocross races under my belt.
Before my first CX race…
…And after my first CX race.
Traitor cycles is based in Bellingham (Ferndale to be more accurate) and shares a space with their parent company Transition Bicycles. A rider owned company- both Transition and Traitor are born from of a love of bikes and you can see it not only in the design, but in the attitudes of the small number of folks that work there- that and the fact that they have dirt jumps to play on at lunch or when they aren’t making things happen in the warehouse. Designed in the Northwest- the bikes are made overseas by a company that they’ve built a good relationship with. The manufacturer is an ex-pro road racer and Dutch custom frame builder- each employee is trained by the owner, Jan.
When I first saw the photos of the Crusade- I was really impressed. A beautiful bike with nice lines and details in the design that show a good amount of thought went into them. I love the top tube cable routing, rear brake bridge and the modest looking paint scheme. The paint isn’t flashy at all- a straight forward white frame and fork is what I’m riding and the decals look good too. It’s also available in a blue/white color scheme. The Traitor logo is simple and the headbadge (though I was not a fan of it at first) looks good and is metal, as opposed to a sticker or decal. Along with Devin and Charles at Wright Brothers- I couldn’t help but notice the Columbus Life tubing decal on the frame. Nice. Steel is real after all- and Columbus…. Well I’m sure you know of Columbus. Their LIFE tubing is triple butted. High strength and low weight. I’ve been told that it uses a cutting edge process involving the blood of unicorns to increase it’s stiffness- but I haven’t been able to confirm.
For how awesome the bike as a whole looks- upon closer inspection the welds looked decent on the frame but are a little rough on the fork. That, and there was very little fork clearance while running Hutchinson 34c Bulldogs. On muddier courses- I’ve had to stop and scoop out debris that slowed me down to a crawl. Switching over to an ENVE fork is on my list of things to do after I win the lottery. As I’m figuring out more and more and can afford to put better parts on my frame- it will get lighter than the 21lbs that it currently weighs in at.
The frame is setup for cantilever brakes only- with no disc tabs welded on. I imagine that we’ll be seeing more SSCX bikes that are disc brake compatible since the UCI legalized them last year. Disc brakes of course work well- better than V-brakes even, but at least currently- when push comes to shove- they aren’t that popular on cross bikes. Whether it be that they don’t look as classic, or maybe the fact that people don’t want to slow down- traditional cantilever brakes are still king on many cross bikes. That said- Traitor does have a little project going- not sure if it will continue onto the Crusade SS though…
The Cross Crusade is currently available as a frame and fork, and I hope they’ll be offering it as a complete in the future. They do have a build kit available which doesn’t look too shabby- for $959. That will get you a race ready SSCX bike for $1658. The frame and fork alone retails for $699. For those looking for a good looking SSCX bike- especially if you have a soft spot for Columbus- it’s definitely a contender.
In addition to being a solid cross frame, the Cross Crusade would also be well suited to a single speed around town, with braze-ons for fenders. The rear dropouts have a rear facing adjusting screw that I removed in favor of a Surly Tuggnut. The stock adjusting screws work fine- probably better than a Tuggnut even- but I don’t like having to use a small allen key to loosen them. Maybe if they had a wingnut screw I’d like them better? The waterbottle braze-ons aren’t that important for a cross race- but you may appreciate them if ripping around town looking for trouble.
You can find Traitor Bicycles in Seattle at Recycled Cycles, Counterbalance and Second Ascent. They are available in 16 states and through authorized online resellers. You can check out their dealer page HERE. They’ve also got a number of other well thought out bikes including a road bike, a fixed gear trick bike, and a slick little urban commuter.
I’ve got a feeling that my Traitor Cross Crusade will never sit idle for too long. It’s a really fun bike and I’m already looking forward to getting it muddy again.
A bike thanks to Joe and the guys at Traitor for being so awesome. If you find yourself up Bellingham way- you’ll probably see Kevin or Joe around town or on the trails. Say hi- they’re good folks.
I met some amazing people last cross season, and now we have a full on team. With sponsors! These folks have become friends and I’m stoked to be racing with them this year during cross season. Most are randonneur riders and I’m pretty sure they have iron choads, many are going to take part in Paris-Brest-Paris this year. Some race mountain, or track, or road. Some haven’t even raced anything yet… Most of the dudes have beards and don’t shave their legs. None of the ladies have beards.
We ride, we drink beer and we have a good time. We are excited about bikes and we want you to come hang out at the races with us. Come heckle with us. We heckle because we care.
Melissa got a few pics of me just before I left for AK, like this one- with the Traitor Crusade that I raced last fall. I’ll be reviewing the bike soon- since CX season is approaching. I will say that if you are looking for a steel SSCX bike made from Columbus tubing- the Crusade could be your knight in shining armor.
And because Melissa loves to take silly pictures of me:
Check out what happens with Soft Like Kitten at our team page HERE
The Traitor Crusade was one of those bikes that deserved some attention. After talking with my buddy and longtime Go Means Go supporter Joe, at Traitor Cycles, we worked out a deal so that I could get on a bike and start racing. Days after they landed in the US, I had a size 56cm frame and fork arrive on my doorstep.
I took the box down to Charles and Devin at Wright Brothers with a bunch of parts I have been accumulating, as well as some things I had to rob from my road bike. My road bike hasn’t been ridden much lately and since it is cross season, it was the one to be put on the chopping block. Charles and Devin were at once impressed with the frame- fresh out of the box. Charles’s eye was immediately drawn to the Columbus Life Tubing decal, which is essentially a stamp of approval for a man with such a fondness for italian steel. Devin quickly went to work on it, and had it built up by the end of the day. It came out of the box straight and was easy to build. It was, according to Devin “much more enjoyable than what I SHOULD be doing.” I was planning on running my Ultegra/Open Pro rear wheel with a singlespeed conversion kit, but Charles and Devin didn’t want me to subject it to the mud, grit and grime that Pacific Northwest cyclocross is known for. They built up a new rear wheel with a Surly 1×1 hub (130mm spacing) to Velocity’s A23 rim, the clincher version of their new Major Tom tubular CX rim. Devin used his artistic license to alternate black and silver spokes, giving me a beautiful and strong wheel that is set apart from the rest. He didn’t use the traditional cable hanger for the front brake, but instead used a little doohickey to shorten the cable length and reduce brake chatter. It looks a little funny to me, but it seems to do the trick.
As it was first built up, I had them throw my road tires on, as I was unsure of the CX tires to ride. The RibMo’s that I’ve been riding for a while on the road bike made for a good set to ride on the Crusade for the street. The 42×18 felt great and I was giddy riding up and down the steep sections of Phinney Ridge. A dream to climb on, the bike weighs in at 21 lbs, which is a little heavier than the 19lb build that Joe has been riding. Getting the weight down won’t be too hard, but with me sitting pretty at over 200lbs, I usually don’t freak out on weight too much.
Build as it is now:
Chris King 1 1/8″ NoThread Headset
Truvativ +5 degree x 110mm stem sitting on 50mm worth of spacers
Torelli Bormio 44cm wide handlebars (31.8)
Thompson Elite Setback seatpost (27.2)
Harley Davidson branded saddle…. so pro.
Empella Frogleggs cantilever brakes with Tektro levers
No name crankset 42×18 gear ratio
Surly 1×1 rear hub to Velocity A23 rim laced by none other than Devin at Wright Brothers.
I raced my first cross race in the Single Speed category at MFG’s King County Cyclocross race last Saturday. I got my ass handed to me. I placed poorly, due to my time behind a clipboard or computer more than behind the handlebars over the past few months. On the upside, it was my first race- but definitely won’t be my last. I didn’t crash, didn’t get last place, didn’t give up and I had a great time. The course had a lot of off camber climbs and descents, and my legs didn’t have the juice needed to stay in the saddle and slog up the hills. Out of the saddle I was done for- with no traction whatsoever. Saying I didn’t crash may mean that I could have pushed myself a little more, but I would like to think that I just have decent bike handling skills. Bryan Clark finished 9th in the Men’s SS category, his first “real” CX race. He raced at SSCXWC, but flatted out early on. He was racing with GO MEANS GO as his team name. I guess that means GMG has a team now? Craig Ethridge absolutely slayed it, which isn’t too surprising- he’s a wild man on a bike.
I don’t think you will find a more affordable frameset out there built with a Columbus Life tubeset. At $699 for the frame and fork- it does cost a little more than some of the competition, but many will agree that Columbus tubing is worth the extra few dollars. It’s a beautiful bike, with a race geometry, and lots of little details that shows the thought put into it. The internal cable routing is a nice touch, as is the cable stop at the seat stays. Stainless Steel dropouts, with a built in threaded tension screw prevent wheel slippage, and there are fender eyelets if you are into that sort of thing. No disc brake mounts, it’s got the traditional cantilever bosses. I have never run disc brakes with track ends, but it seems like it would be harder to adjust. You may need either Paragon type sliding dropouts or an eccentric hub in conjunction with vertical dropouts? I’m not certain- and I like canti’s just fine. They look good, and depending on the brakes you have, stop reasonably well. The bike comes with a 130mm rear spacing, so you can throw in a road wheel with a conversion kit if you’d like. They have added a phosphate coating on the inside of the frame to prevent the corrosion that CX subjects bikes to. I love the bent stays, and you can fit up to a 38c tire!
If you are a fan of steel bikes, are looking to upgrade, or are in the market for a steel SSCX bike for a solid street machine with fenders, I think that the Crusade is a great choice. I’ll recap my experiences as the season progresses, and I’m jazzed to be racing SSCX on it. A few changes will be made, mainly with the pedals, gear ratio, and finding my sweet spot with the handlebar/stem height- I’m not such a fan of all those spacers- but they’ll stay on until I find the right height. The “cut it twice and it’s STILL too short” way of doing things is not a good way to approach bike fit.
In years past, Raleigh has released a limited edition of their single speed cyclocross bikes to celebrate the growing number of oddballs, degenerates, rejects and weirdos that like nothing more than spend a cold and wet day playing in the mud, grasping for beer handups and loving the pain and suffering that Pacific Northwest cyclocross is.
These images are the public’s first look at what Raleigh’s been cooking up down in Kent… A carbon single speed cross frame; compatible with the Gates Carbon Belt Drive that we love here so much at GMG. If this bicycle was movie poster it would look something like this:
I’m loving how clean these dropouts are, even with the breakaway section to install a belt drive.
It’s sexy. And there is only going to be 40 of them with this paint scheme. That is less than in previous years- which all sold out…
See the Sasquatch on the headbadge? How bout the Hodala lion? This bike is like Sly Stallone when he turns his hat backwards in Over the Top- ready to kick some ass and take some names. Is it hot in here or is it just the bike?
Now the only question is: Are you going to race for money, glory, or for the love of cyclocross? Get more information on the frame and where to buy one at the SSCXWC webpage, and stay tuned for more info on how to win a –ONE OF A KIND– Complete Shimano/Gates build for your new bike. This is going to be an amazing year for single speed cyclocross.
Got the scoop from Sally- the amigo over at Raleigh- one of the (dis)organizers of the SSCXWC.
Here’s the basics:
– full direct connect carbon frame that has been proven on our carbon road bikes.
– CNC’d drop outs that are keyed for a Gates Carbon Belt Drive (the belt drive will help keep your costume clean)
– Thinned brake stays to help smooth out some of the jarring (ideal while putting down your first of many hand ups)
– Flat Top Tube for a comfy shoulder should you need to run with the bike (but honestly.the thing is so light you shouldn’t have to)
– Head tube is traditional. 1-1/8″ top and bottom
– Uses the same geometry as our RX 1.0 (what can we say.we like how that one rides)
– Fork on the actual production run will be the new ENVE.(because everyone is going to be just that with this thing.envious)
– Limited run of 40 to be sold this year to be sold purely though and for SSCXWC. All proceeds of the sale of these frames goes directly to the event (sorry kids… no prodeals on this machine)
– Shimano (AGAIN!) and Gates Carbon Drive is offering up perhaps the sweetest groupo on the mud for one lucky person. (we know how creative SSCX racers are- so start thinking YouTube in order to earn the groupo. more details to be announced at IB) Gates Carbon Drive is also on board and will be providing the complete drivetrain.
– MSRP is currently targeted around $1200 for frame fork headset
Sally will be taking one for its inaugural spin at StarCrossed and CrossVegas. The complete built up bike will be at the Raleigh booth at Interbike.
You’ll be able to buy them from the SSCXWC online store soon, and with only 40 available- they’ll go fast. Don’t sleep.
With the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships happening in Seattle this October, it’s time to start thinking about what you are going to ride. Well Traitor Cycles, in Ferndale, WA is joining the ranks of companies offering a single speed cyclocross bike. Enter the Traitor Cycles “Crusade” frame and fork.
The Crusade uses Columbus Life tubing for the frame (with SS dropouts) and Columbus SLX for the split crown fork. People often say “it’s the little things” well Traitor has given lots of thought to the little things on this bike. Internal cable routing, a clean looking seat stay cable stop, S-bend seat stays and an integrated chain tensioning system. The Crusade seems to be a solid bike at a reasonable price: $699 for frame and fork.
Single Speed Worlds shouldn’t be missed. What are you going to ride?