Here I am again, writing about a World Championships experience. This one is just a touch more debaucherous than the last one I attended in early October. I swapped the UCI regulations for one rule to rule them all: if you win you must get a tattoo. Single Speed Cyclocross World Champs is the not-so-underground, fringe, party event that calls itself a World Champs and, in many ways, it is. But instead of (doing drugs) (marginal gains) that make you faster, you do things that make you slower like keg stands, whiskey shots, and hot dog hand-ups.
With my camera bag loaded with several boxes of 120 film and a brick of Ilford HP5, I pulled out of the driveway bound for Hartford, CT; I paused, wondering how I arrived at this moment. All of the little moves and influences resulted in me lugging two cameras with a combined age of some 75 years to shoot the season’s most crucial cyclocross race. There is a “Butterfly Effect” moment in our lives that leads us to our current state, and somewhere amongst the mud, dust, and thousands of shutter actuation is mine.
Amidst the fray of cyclocross athletes regularly pushing themselves to the limit, the unsung heroes of this discipline are churning away behind the scenes. From mechanics and photographers to directors and coaches, the lesser-known faces that keep this crazy sport going are all unique people with their own stories, but not ones you’ll likely hear about in race coverage. So enjoy a glimpse into the world of the people on the outside of the tape – we hope it inspires you to take a walk through the paddock at the next race you attend and look a little closer.
Years ago, when I expressed my aspirations to become a cycling photographer, a very talented friend helped me put things into perspective. “Remember,” he said, “What you are trying to achieve is the equivalent of wanting to be an NFL photographer while living in Japan.”
I knew what he was saying was not to discourage me; he had also worked for various cycling outlets over the years, writing and occasionally shooting with well-known names in professional cycling. His frequent flyer miles were piling up, and it was merely a side hustle. “You can do it,” he told me, “but as someone once told me, you must accept living like a dog.”
Our Radar Roundup compiles products and videos from the ‘net in an easy-to-digest format. Read on below for today’s findings…
When peanut butter mud and clay wreak havoc on drivetrains, you’re gonna see a lot of single-speed bikes rolling up to the start line at events like the Mid South. I did, in fact, see a number of single speeds but I was really into Nate’s Reeb Cycles Dirt Diggler, so I shot a few photos of it while I chatted with Nate about Stillwater, District Bicycles, and yeah, the mud!
Bikes from the 80s and 90s can be repurposed for modern use with some smart parts speccing. Take Jakob from Austria‘s 1994 Marin Sausalito. Let’s see this beaut in full detail below!
It’s hard to argue the versatility of the old All-City Nature Boy canti models. They were perfect commuters, ‘cross racers, and when set up fixed, perfect for commuting on snowy winter roads. Check out Matt‘s build and a full spec breakdown below!
The Philly Bike Expo often has a good mix of seasoned builders and others that are beginning to hone their craft. Sam Scipio just started building frames earlier this year under the moniker Jubilee Manufacturing and already had a beautiful cyclocross bike (her second build) ready to show off at the Expo. Today, accompanying Jarrod Bunk‘s detailed photos, Sam talks about her bike and why she’s inspired to be building frames.
Zach Small’s Amigo Frameworks in Nashville, TN recently announced a preorder for the new uber-adaptable Bug Out gravel bike. Featuring the ability to run one speed or twelve, flat bars or drops, adjustable headtube angle, modifiable wheelbase, and room for up to 700 x 50c tires, the Bug Out is designed to handle pretty much anything thrown at it. Zach had one built-up and on display at this year’s Philly Bike Expo where we were able to take an up-close and detailed look.
From time to time, we’ll be sharing some bikes that come into The Pro’s Closet stock that are 100% aligned with the readership at The Radavist. MASH is an iconic brand that was one of the first to mesh design, photography, and products quite well, and this MASH edition Stigmata is an embodiment of the brand’s efforts to create limited-edition goods that you can use. That means race, thrash, crash, and put through the wringer. We absolutely love the Stigmata and when Mike and the team at MASH released these bikes back in 2016, they were all the rage.
The Pro’s Closet has this 56cm complete bike bike, as shown, in stock and ready for bell laps – and gravel rides – today for $4,599.99.
Ignite Components designs, tests, and manufacturers its cranks in-house here in the USA. Allamuchy, New Jersey to be exact. At this year’s Philly Bike Expo Ignite unveiled its two crank models: Catalyst MTB cranks (pictured) and Inferno Road cranks. These cranks are CNC’d in house and come in 155-175mm lengths, a plethora of custom anodizing or cerakote color options, and have a lifetime warranty. The Catalyst mountain cranks are shipping now and the Inferno road cranks are currently available as a pre-order. Head to Ignite Components for more!
Last year marked a sea change for the cycling industry. On one hand, cycling saw a boom with many companies shifting to a work from home model, and employees looking for a new outdoor hobby to spend their free time. On the other, supply chain shortages ran rampant throughout the industry and suddenly the supply couldn’t meet the demand. Depending on who you talk to, parts shortages happened for a number of reasons but the bottom line is if you have the ability to sell bikes, or even frames in 2021, consider yourself lucky.
Before the pandemic, Sabrina and Max Clauson wanted a change of pace from their normal day-to-day lives so they purchased VYNL Bikes. Now they’re running it as a passion project from their home in Boulder, Colorado. While I was in town earlier this year, I swung by their house to take a look at the new VYNL brand and to shoot Max’s /rd Rim brake bike along with Sabrina’s /gr Disc Gravel bike. These no-nonsense machines come in stock geometry, have the option for custom paint, are made in the USA, and are perfect for a rider looking for a straight-up utilitarian bike for pavement or gravel.
Let’s take a look at these two builds below…
Built from All-City’s proprietary A.C.E. steel tubing, the Nature Cross Single Speed is an option for a light, fast, and to be honest, good lookin’ SSCX bike for this season. These complete bikes ($2,299) and framesets ($1,499) come with an eccentric bottom bracket for easy gear swaps and for 2022 the Nature Cross comes in an ombré fade “Pink Lemonade” paint scheme. Check out all the details at All-City.
I was introduced to Ben Frederick by my predecessor at Ritchey, Sean Coffey, in the summer of 2015. “Get a load of this kid,” he said while showing me what appeared to be someone not only racing the pro/UCI cross field on a cantilevered steel bike but easily on the podium of these races as well. The iconic red of the Ritchey Swiss Cross sticking out amongst the sea of carbon contenders dressed in every color but that made it easy to spot him moving up through the field. “We’re sponsoring him now,” Sean said, and possibly the easiest introduction to a soon-to-be friend as I’ve ever had.
After a year off from racing, everyone is more stoked than ever to say #crossiscoming. Over at Speedvagen, they’re so excited that for the first time they are offering Ready Made Cyclocross Team Editions as Frame-sets only. This is in part due to the supply shortages plaguing the industry.
Cyclocross was the beginning of Speedvagen and cross bikes are still among their favorite bikes. Light and nimble, ready to get rowdy. Not over-built like most “gravel” bikes today. A pure cross bike is something magical. Sacha has always said if he had to pick a bike for the apocalypse it would be a single-speed cyclocross bike.
THE RMCXTED Frameset Specs:
-Two Super Sparkly Paint Schemes, New for 2021 Team Blue or our traditional Team White
-Stock sizing 50-58cm
-Enve CX Fork
-Enve Post Head
-PF30 or T47 shell (single speed or geared)
-Turn around time 5-6 mo
-Deposit $1000 (deducted from the total price)
Wraith Fabrication made some really slick bikes in the years they were building frames. It’s not too often we see them, so when Quinn sent his over for a Readers’ Rides feature, we dropped everything. Check out a short write up by Quinn below, along with many more photos…