I’m watching Katie Compton decimate the field at the 3rd Cyclocross world cup at Koksijde Belgium. I must have missed this race last year, its not like any cross race I’ve seen. Large portions of the course are nothing but sand requiring some long running dismounts.
Compton didn’t start the race in front and had to move up several positions to take the lead. It was fascinating to see how she managed to have more speed then the others. She was faster than the other racers in the non technical sections but she moved ahead of the other riders in the transitions between sand and dirt. I never saw her slip, she was so smooth. The deep sand pushed her around a bit but she always seemed to have the situation completely in hand.
I read an article recently about Compton and was surprised that she chooses to ride an aluminum bike because Trek’s Carbon Cross bike doesn’t fit her well. I also surprised to see so many racers still on cantilever breaks. Even though disc breaks are now legal many riders are still choosing to ride cantilevers, as Compton did. Cantilvers are lighter, probably not by much, but I believe that’s a reason why many racers are still running the cantilevers. According to http://georgiacx.com/cyclocross-brakes-disc-vs-canti/ the disc brakes are really beneficial on the fast grass races with less mud, but the cantilevers have more mud clearance, but so much of his racing is a mixture of both he really didn’t see either brake choice making much difference.
I mountain biked on cantilevers before V-brakes replaced them. V-brakes were so much better, less fussy, and always felt like they had more power. The truth was those were some bad cantilevers. Better models like the Tekros I’m using on my touring bike have good power and modulation. The fact is that when conditions are wet any rim brake needs a complete rotation of the wheel to clear off the brake track before they work. Disc brakes are barely effected by conditions which is why I’m so surprised to see so many ‘cross riders still using cantilevers.
While watching the race I was also surprised to hear what the women were running for pressure in their tires. The commentator said one woman was running 17 pounds of air. You’ve got to keep in mind that would never work with clinchers, the pros all race on tubulars and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flat tire. Also that woman may have only weighed 120 pounds so your mileage may vary.