Welcome back to Episode Five of our Director’s Cut Blog for Behind THE Barriers! This episode takes place in Fort Collins, Colorado, a location that’s fast becoming a classic weekend of cyclocross racing. Year after year, the weather is uncertain, the course conditions change very quickly and the threat of rain, snow or sleet is always there. Last year it was a mud fest on Saturday, and then became fast, rutted-out and dry as a bone on Sunday!
Who cares about the weather, though? It’s ’cross season and whatever happens, happens. We’re gonna be racing!
This year it was a big weekend for team Rapha-Focus. It was the second stop of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross series and my last big test before I went head to head against the world’s best at the World Cups in the Czech Republic (coming soon in Episode 6!). So it’s the USGP, it’s right before the World Cups and it’s the debut of my prototype Rapha-Focus Mares disc brake machine!
This was my first race on the Mares disc bike, and, just like in training, it was incredible. Mike Zellman, who does a lot of the talking for SRAM — usually too much — asked me to describe disc brakes in one word. My word: confidence. I’ve been talking about it with so many people lately. I’m guessing my confidence with this set-up could be a result of my style of riding, or the fact that I grew up mountain biking. Regardless, in the nasty stuff, the Avid BB7 SLs and the Easton wheels have been incredible!
I think it’s exciting for both consumers and elites to be able to use this technology in ’cross racing right now. As the technology grows, the tire compounds change and everything becomes more and more refined, I think we’re going to look at rim brakes and laugh. The same way you look at that old picture of the guy climbing in the Tour with no helmet … in a few years’ time, it’s going to be a little like that.
The bikes ran perfectly, the race was great, and the weekend featured lots of Colorado’s finest. Mike Creed even made his Behind THE Barriers debut.
We also made history winning Saturday’s Category 1 race on disc brakes. If nothing else, that says something about them being here to stay. So between the disc brakes, all the technical clothing and the Giro Air Attack helmet, I’ve been feeling like a real test pilot.
I’ll admit it: I’m really lucky. It’s so great to have these tools at my disposal. It makes the job a lot more fun. The reason I race and compete is to push the limit of my fitness, speed and agility and I love that my partners have that same vision with their products. It’s awesome.
So, if you have had doubts about disc brakes on your ’cross bike, you heard it here first: they’re here to stay. Tell Timmy J. when you see him that Powers told you so!
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This week's Ask a Mechanic features Greg O'Keefe showing us how to install an extended-range cog.
On-board footage from the last big Pyrenean mountain stage that took riders from blistering heat to freezing rain over huge cols.