For many, Labor Day means a day off, the end of summer, and back to school. But for another quirky segment of the population, Labor Day signifies the official kick off to cyclocross. It is a unique sport that brings together roadies and mountain bikers to the same competitive turf in an environment characterized by cold, wet, and suffering. Yet we love it, because it keeps us motivated, riding and racing into late fall despite the shitty weather. ‘Cross races also may include heckling, drunken reveling, bacon hand ups, costumes, food trucks, and deafening cow bells, all of which adds to the allure.
However, bike companies have found it difficult to get their cross bikes by Labor Day. The Angry Asian even wrote about this in early October http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/angryasian-shouldnt-cyclocross-stuff-be-available-during-cross-season-42648/. Sans CX bike, I didn’t think I’d be able to race CX this year. I had such a successful mountain bike season with the support of Marin Bikes, that I wanted to continue to race in their colors for cyclocross. But Marin, along with companies like Trek, BMC, and Giant, experienced delays in CX bike deliveries.
Lucky for me, I was able to borrow a friend’s CX bike for the season (unlucky for him, he couldn’t ride it because of a mountain bike related injury). I had all but given up on a new bike, but then, with just four races left in my CX season, I secured a Marin Cortina T3 CX to race. It has delivered in every way. It’s a great bike!
First of all, this thing is a looker. Stealthy and sexy with the matte and gloss finish. Check it out:
The cost savings from the house brand cockpit and hubs allow the bike to be decked out with Shimano RS685 hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano 5800 drivetrain, and WTB Frequency Race i19 tubeless compatible wheels. What a nice touch that Marin smartly spec’d the bike with metallic pads and steel RT66 rotors. They give you the durability and performance you need but save you the cost of Ice-Tech pads and rotors that are usually found on road disc bikes–parts that aren’t needed for ‘cross racing as the heat management requirements are much lower.
It’s also important to call out the easy to miss but critical custom made CNC machined chain catcher to prevent any chain drop mishaps.
On race day, this Sunday 11/23/14, at Enumclaw, WA, the bike rode like a champ through muddy slop, grassy slop, sloppy puddles, and slop covered rocks.The only thing I changed were the tires. I imagine the Conti CX race tires are perfectly suited to Marin County area terrain, but in the Pacific NW, mud tires are a must. I took some pics to capture drive train performance.
It poured all night and all morning, but the skies cleared in time for my race. Nevertheless, the infield was thick and slow.
The “classic” steep and long Enumclaw run up.
Remounting after the barriers.
A huge thanks to Jared Vigil for building my bike just two days before race day and also for taking these pictures of me! Thanks to Marin Bikes for being such an awesome group of people who make well spec’d, high performing bikes. And to Hammer Nutrition who I still use to fuel and recover, even though my CX races are currently a tiny fraction of the length that my mtb races were.