We're so into Cyclocross that we made this special page for it. Also publish a Tumblr about Suffer Faces.

We like Cross! Do You? Tell us How Much

So that our blog may serve you better, please provide answers to our questions in this form about Cross (after the jump). Our form bots will then crunch all the response into a fabulous report (charts and graphs) that our editorial committee will review. Note: if you send us weirdo/pervy answers, the bots are trained to ignore them. We’re also not spammers.

At the end of the form, you’ll find an offer to follow me on Google+ where I’ve set up the Suffer Faces Circle of Cross. If you’re down with Cross and indicate your “downness,” I’ll put you in the circle where we’re going to offer select content this Season.

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Enve for Cross


A photo teaser for a bike project we’re working on. That’s the Enve tapered Cross fork. The bike is being built here in Seattle in the brick building on the right by Bill Davidson with design and styling by Mark V.

It’s called the Cross Mode.

Thinking about petite women cyclocrossers and head tubes

5460958891_1abfbb4058.jpg My mind runs pretty random at times, so let’s just jump into the middle of my thoughts about Daphny van den Brand. She’s an 11-time Dutch national cyclocross champion, 1-time world champion. Despite having a subpar season last year, she can be a threat in any race she enters. This is impressive considering the presence of American Katie Compton and multi-discipline killer and fellow Dutch Mariane Vos. Daphny is also kinda a babe and a hottie shorty at 1.58M (5’2”). I saw some of her pictures online and I think I really want to ride her….her cyclocross bike, that is. Because at 1.6M, I would ride the same size frame as her. Her bike sponsor last year was Merida, who are little known here in the states but build the Taiwan frames for just about every brand that doesn’t get their Taiwan production from Giant (hint: Specialized). Merida isn’t imported in the states, so I won’t be riding Daphny’s 48cm stock carbon cx frame. But then again, with a 120mm head tube on top of the 400mm cx fork I would never be able to get the bars as low as I want without resorting to some goofy stem….and I’d only do that if I was paid to ride Merida bikes.

Looking at the photo above, I guess Daphy and I think alike. I love this woman. So does

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2012 Cross Preseason: Rhonde Ohop

After the unusual Midsummer’s Cross race, my Cross preseason starts tomorrow at Rhonde Ohop. The Ronde is a kermesse style race with a mixture of pavement and dirt. It’s near Eatonville, WA, where we found bike culture too, earlier this year.

I’m swapping bikes from road to cross when we hit the dirt with the 11 Redline Conquest. The new 12 bikes are being shipped and built now and should debut at Starcrossed. More on those later and CrossVegas too.

Early Schedule

Suffer Faces

USGP Portland: More Cowbell

More cowbell

USGP Portland: The Most Cowbell

No, we want the MOST cowbell

When the Season is full on with the cow bells clanking, guts wrenching, and snot flying, follow Suffer Faces. That’s where we’ll feature beginners, masters, women, and the working people of the Sport.

Midsummer Nights's Cross Race 26

Each run up his face twisted more

We’re showing their suffering faces.

Uh-uh-uh UMLENKER!....Gesundheit! (a widget for your cyclocross bike)

Ti randonneur w/ disc & 26" wheels

Many cyclocross bikes route the derailleur cables along the top tube to get them out of the way of mud flung off the wheels and away from places the rider might grab during portaging. Since the front derailleur cable now leads down the seat tube and all road shifter compatible front derailleurs are bottom pull, the frame builder must incorporate some sort of cable pull reversing pulley on the back of the seat tube below the height of the front derailleur. This is unfortunate, because that pulley is now situated in one of the muddiest nooks of a cyclocross bike. A problem….that clearly needs some obsessive German tinkering!

Enter German company Speen. They manufacture tiny little doodads that they call Umlenker in a plethora of (very) minor variations to fit just about every front road derailleur currently made. The Umlenker bolts onto the cable fixing threads of the front derailleur, and then it presents a repositioned cable fixing point to accept a cable from above. I believe that Speen first started making these when elite XC mtn bikers started hotrodding their ultra light bikes with double rings and Dura Ace front derailleurs (i.e., before 2x10 drivetrains became a stock option from SRAM and Shimano). In the case of mtn bikes and road front derailleurs, the designated Umlenker for that situation also modifies the cable pull geometry to correctly mesh with the mtn shifter. On a cyclocross bike, the Umlenker is lighter and less of a mud collector than a pulley, though the cable run now sits a little outboard of the seat tube (see pix). Also, the Umlenker lacks a cable groove in clamping area, so tightening the fixing bolt is a little harsh on the cable itself.

You can buy these things direct from the Speen website, and they ship via international post, so the cost is reasonable. I bought a few of these recently, and the one for a customer’s titanium disc 26”-wheeled randonneur bike meshed perfect with the 5700 double front derailleur. I also had success with a Campy Centaur setup. Unfortunately, I inadvertently ordered an Umlenker for the wrong generation of SRAM Force derailleur, so I can’t test that situation out yet. The Umlenker is just a teensy, tiny bit off from fitting my later-gen Force derailleur, but judging by how subtle the differences are between any of the Umlenker models, I suspect that a little “off” may as well be a mile.

Byron is currently testing another CX bike that came with an Umlenker installed. In direct contrast with my experiences, that one shifts like ass. The pull ratio seems like it might be off, rendering the trim positions ineffective. Since I didn’t order or install that Umlenker and none of the Umlenkers have any identifying marks, I wonder if perhaps it is not the right model Umlenker for the shifter or derailleur.

Ti randonneur w/ disc & 26" wheels

It is worth mentioning here that Shimano is on the eve of delivering CX70 and CX50 front derailleurs, both of which will be available in top-pull options, thereby negating the need for an Umlenker or pulley for Shimano users (assuming they have 5700/6700/7900-gen shifters). Whether or not this will be a trend that SRAM follows is anyone’s guess, so the next time I get a cyclocross bike made, I will be planning on running it with an Umlenker for my SRAM drivetrain.

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