This weekend, in a park in Louisville Kentucky, the usually Belgium-based 'cross community will race the UCI World Championship. For the first time in its sixty year history, the Worlds are venturing outside of their European home land. Who would have imagined that within a few short years, the US would have risen through the ranks of cyclocross enough to pull the big race.
Cyclocross seems to be mushrooming in North America, faster than their all-American hero Jeremy Powers can bunny hop a set of hurdles. Many European fans are not convinced about using a venue across the Atlantic Ocean; Rouleur's Ian Cleverly muses "Is it one step too far in this globalisation obsession of the UCI’s? Can a compact crowd of colourful, cowbell-wielding whoopers create as much atmosphere as tens of thousands of grey-clad, beered-up, smoking Belgians?"
Current European CX Champion Helen Wyman takes a balanced view “There won’t be the mental 20,000 spectators spitting frites and beer, but the people that will be at the World Championships will definitely be enthusiastic.”
We'll all find out come Saturday at 16:00 (GMT) as the first race of the championships gets under way. On Sunday the 3rd February at 16:00 (GMT) the elite women will race and at 19:00 (GMT) the elite men will begin to line up.
The race is being streamed live on the Louisville 2013 website.
States-based riders appear to have embraced the recent cyclocross disc revolution with more enthusiasm than the Belgian pros. The American riders are the ones who have the bikes that are disc equipped and American bike brands were some of the first to produce disc compatible bikes.
But before cyclocross was even a twinkle in the eyes of our friends across the pond, there was cyclocross in Britain. A fight of man and his bike against terrain; wading through deep streams and clambering up muddy banks, weighed down by woolen shorts and using equipment that was not intended for the cold unforgiving mud. Finishing a race was an achievement itself.
In the early nineties, Condor built a cyclocross bicycle using cable-pull disc brakes designed by a British start-up Hope Technologies. Steel tubing shapes were not as easily manipulated and aluminium hadn't yet been used in its full capacity by builders.
Fork judder was common on most cyclocross bike of the eighties and mud clearance a bit of a pipe dream for riders but disc brakes on cyclocross bikes were futuristic and alien -a concept embraced only by mountain bikers. Twenty years since Hope made those brakes (and Condor made a disc specific cyclocross bike) the idea is still quite misunderstood.
This year will be one of the first to see bikes with disc featuring within the World Championships.
Bike: Condor custom with Reynolds 631 steel
Brakes: Hope Disc
Wheelset: Hope Hubs built onto Mavic Open Pro Rims
Hand drawn exploded diagram of the brake
With huge thanks to Greg Needham (senior sales technician) and Howard Shirley