Since I took up cycling in my adult life, which I guess was about 12 years ago now, I’ve owned a few cyclocross bikes. As a matter of fact the first “proper” bike I bought was a ‘Cougar’ steel framed cyclocross bike that I bought on ebay. No idea why. Lovely black and silver thing that was a size too big for me and weighed half a ton. I do remember though that it was really comfortable to ride.
I bought a ‘proper’ road bike shortly thereafter and forgot about cyclocross for a few years.
So last year I decided to build myself up a new cyclocross bike, this time mostly motivated by a desire to try out some cyclocross racing. So I bought a Graham Weigh frame, stripped the groupset off my TT bike (yes I did have a TT bike) and set to work.
The bike I ended up with was a joy to ride, apart from one thing – the brakes. If I was a teenager I would say OMG. Shocking things that made stopping quite a chore, especially in the wet. I remember one comical incident at a race on Bray Head, barrelling down hill, unable to stop - straight though the tape...That’s cantilever brakes for you. Had a great time racing on that bike all the same.
So last summer I decided to sell that bike and buy a new cyclocross bike, this time with disc brakes. Being primarily from a mtb background I am well versed in the quality of disc brakes and their superiority over canti or v brakes. So after some research I went for the Rose Pro DX Cross 2000, made by the eponymous German company. And what a bike it is.
The race season is now over and the bike has served me very well. More about that in a future post.
But cyclocross bikes are not all about racing. Quite the opposite in fact. This is what I want to tell you about.
The modern, disc brake- equipped cyclocross bike is, in my view, the most versatile and enjoyable bike out there. And they are made for Ireland, its roads and its weather. The fatter tyres (usually around 32mm) give unbelievable grip and more importantly comfort. But the brakes are the big plus. Disc brakes work the same wet or dry. No more cramped hands pulling the bejaysus out of your brakes on a wet, cold winters day.
But most importantly the cyclocross bike allows you to go where your road bike won’t take you. Where I live, like most places in Ireland, we have a complicated network of quiet country roads and lanes, roads to nowhere but for the few who live down them. Rough roads, as ancient as the hedgerows that line them. For me and my cyclocross bike it’s an opportunity to escape the traffic, shelter from the wind. And if you have good companions, cycle side by side and have the chat. All things not possible out on the main road on your regular road bike.
This winter my cyclocross bike has brought me down roads and lanes within 20km of my home that I would never have been on, but for the bike I have christened The Wild Rose. A year of exploration awaits!