This Sunday’s race was the last in the Cross Revolution series (the series formerly known as Seattle CX). The course this weekend was simple; relatively flat with a short, punchy uphill on the back side followed by a fast descent, a run-up with a couple barriers, another fast descent on which you were sorry if you didn’t commit to the rut, and a tricky downhill, off-camber left-hand turn (which you could really rail if you unclipped your left foot). Nothing out of the ordinary there. It was the frozen, uneven ground that made this course the sufferfest that it was. The below freezing temperatures ensured that no matter how many riders plowed through, there was no smooth line that developed on the day. The pain we had the good fortune to experience this weekend was one you experienced throughout your whole body – there was no resting or carrying speed after a downhill through the flat sections. It took constant adjustment and using your core and arms to keep from getting bucked out of the saddle by a rogue pothole (I found that trying to ride it like a rhythm section, pumping through the depressions, helped to keep speed up). The next morning my arms, back and abs were screaming at me just as much as my legs. it was a good day out at the races.
There is no shortage of ‘Tubular vs Tubeless vs Clincher’ articles out on the internet right now, especially since we’re in the thick of the ‘cross season, but I’d like to toss my hat into the ring. I’m not too particular to the marketing-speak of the bike industry and I’ll try to keep the tech jargon to a minimum and focus on the real world feel and performance of the tire. So with that long-winded introduction I’ll keep my review brief: Hot damn. Having raced clinchers for all of this year’s ‘cross season until this weekend I say with confidence that the difference is real. I felt considerably more confident being aggressive in the muddy, off-camber corners. The suppleness and compliance offered by the latex tube inside the Gripo equals pure, unadulterated shred through the technical sections. They give visceral feedback, assuring you, “We’ve got you.” They produce an audible ‘hum’ that lets you know exactly when you’re on it and when you need to “Harden the Fuck Up” (Rule V). If you’re looking to start upgrading your race setup, skip the carbon and get on a set of tubulars.
We are Branford Bike. A small shop tucked away on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. We sell bikes and fix them. We are also cyclists. We commute. We race. We train. We ride dirt, climb mountain passes, seek quiet country roads and the sound of a freewheel whirring on a long descent. We are passionate. Our goal is to share that passion with all who walk in our door. We stock the good stuff but believe that there is no place for an attitude in the cycling industry. The more bikes on the road, the better. Through this blog we hope to share with you our love for cycling, and celebrate the ways in which these machines bring us together. Cheers.