Recycling for Cyclocross

Winter in Northern Scotland is a real issue when you want to commute everyday; believe me when I say I try every year to cycle all through the winter and over the last couple of years I have nearly managed it. Winter has been kind for the last couple of years. Ice is however inevitable, and as some of my key roads don’t even make the “b” list, the gritter is something of a myth they could only dream of. One hill in particular is suicidal, as I have found out on several occasions, and so I resign myself to a turbo trainer in the garage and feel like I am wimping out. This is never helped by the regular postings of people racking up miles on the Rapha Festive 500 or other events.

It's only a little rain.
Registering for Ullapool Mor with my trusty stead

My challenge to this has been that I would strip down my current set of wheels (Royce hubs, Mavic Open Pro rims and DT Swiss spokes) and rebuild them with some Mavic A719 rims, so that I could stick some winter tyres on. It has not happened to date but now that I have the wheel jig I was more determined than ever to grab the time and do it this year … and then my local club; Stonehaven Cycling Club, posted on its Facebook page that it was starting up Cyclocross for the winter. It is sad to say that I am quite excited about this and so the question surfaced; what do I ride? I don’t have a mountain bike (more on this another time maybe), and my commute ride of choice recently has been the fixie which is far from perfect, but my previous day-to-day stead and sportive bike would be nearly perfect.

Van Nicholas Amazon
Van Nicholas Amazon

My Van Nicholas Amazon and been looking sadly neglected in the garage recently and whilst I am incredibly reluctant to sell it, I have found myself thinking that a more aggressive road bike would be better for my current cycling habits. As I said above, it would “nearly” perfect for cyclocross; it has a compact set up so the gearing would be pretty good, cantilever brakes and loads of clearance to accommodate the mud and other detritus that is inevitable with cyclocross. The only draw back to the frame is the gear cabling that runs below the downtube, mud guards, SPD SL pedals and the wheels are built up with road rims that will not accommodate cyclocross tyres. Most of this is easily fixable and so a flurry of activity has ensued over the last couple of weeks.

Nothing to it.
Nothing to it.

The budget was fairly limited and so I have opted to do the minimum I need to have an operational bike. To this end I order new rims (Mavic A719) and the necessary spokes; that way I can reuse the Royce hubs, Conti CycloXKing tyres along with cross tubes and rim tape all held together with DT Swiss Champion spokes. Shimano M540 SPD pedals replace the Shimano 105 SPD SL pedals and some DHB MN1.0 shoes. I can strip off the mud guards; so nothing extra needed there and I will leave the gearing as it is and will change the routing if needed later on. Post finishing the rebuild, I have not considered changing out the Brooks saddle and so will grab an old saddle from another bike rather than wrecking my much-loved and well broken in B17.

With a deadline of next weekend looming for my first Cyclocross, this weekend was set aside for stripping down and rebuilding the wheels and the other fairly minor work in getting the bike ready with pedals, removing the mud guards and resetting the brakes for the wider rims. I have taken over the kitchen all weekend to pull this together (the garage workshop plan, is still a plan at present) and my wife has not batted an eyelid whilst I have covered every surface available with various tools, wheel jigs, bags of spokes and nipples (both old and new), old tyres, new tyres and drunk all of her supply of tea. In summary a very happy weekend.

So, the bike is ready to go and looks like it is on steroids.  I do wonder if this is how it should always of looked rather than set up as a full-on road machine.  It feels like it has a completely new lease of life and purpose and I am sure that it will be me that suffers more this weekend coming.

Ready for action
Ready for action

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