For those unfamiliar cyclocross is a style of racing that mixes beefed up road bikes with mountain bike style courses and obstacles requiring the rider to dismount and clamber over with the bike. Obviously my racing days are long since past, but these heavy-duty road bikes with wider tires and more aggressive treads, as well as more relaxed geometry, are ideal for riding on less-than-ideal roads.
Near my home a numerous dirt roads - all with less traffic and beautiful scenery. Plus the 'cross bike makes slushy conditions doable as well.
So, I scored a 2011 Specialized Crux Comp, with a few nice upgrades, including a Fizik saddle, and Avid Shorty Ultimate brake calipers and pads. Due to all of my crazy travels in December, as well as family and Holiday commitments, I hadn't been able to ride it until last Friday.
This was my first ride on a 'cross bike, so I really didn't know what to expect. At first the ride was "interesting". I'm used to my Giant Defy Advanced 1 road bike which is sleek and smooth, but handles crisply. By contrast the Crux clearly had different geometry. It didn't feel sluggish, per se, but just felt different. Some of that is the difference between the 23mm tires on the road bike and the 35mm tires on the 'crosser. On the pavement, it was a noticeable difference. But I didn't buy this bike for the pavement...
We'd had quite a bit of rain in the days before I got out. The loop I'd chosen included a few miles on some very scenic dirt roads that featured classic Ann Arbor clay - notoriously squishy and slick. The was no way the Defy would have handled this, but on the Crux it felt super comfortable.
I was a bit concerned about the SRAM Double Tap shifting - as I'm used to standard Shimano Ultegra. With Double Tap a single paddle controls shifting. A short throw downshifts and a longer throw upshifts. Curiously, I figured it out right away and had no issues at all.
By the end of a short ten mile ride, I felt quite at home on the Crux. I've got a couple of fit adjustments I want to make, but overall it's 95% there.
Once challenge I did face are the Crank Brothers Egg Beater 2 pedals. These are highly recommended in online forums due to their resistance to mud clogging, durable construction, and high value. Once I got clipped in they were just fine. Nice float, easy to release - but oh man finding the engagement point to clip in was a pain in the arse. I'm sure I'll get it all figured out in time.
First impression? Money well spent and a tremendous value.