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By Matt Pacocha
Boulder, Colorado didn’t get a USGP this year, but Chris Grealish and his team of Boulder-Denver Couriers put on a weekend of UCI ’cross racing that rivaled the best of the series. Crowd estimates were put over 2000 and CrankBrothers even made the trip out to set up a tent in the venue and do some racing.
Since it’s more than midway through the domestic season there are not too many unseen tech’ secrets, but we spotted a few new items, mostly in the form of tires.
Different courses see different equipment choices, thus we saw a few course specific decisions made over the weekend. Among the most notable were Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Leer-cyclocrossworld.com) and Jeremy Powers’ (cyclocrossworld.com-Leer-Ridley) choice to use clinchers on Saturday because of the threat of goat head thorns.
“It has probably been two years since I’ve raced on clinchers,” said Johnson after the race.
Because his sponsor cyclocrossworld.com provides his rubber, Johnson isn’t bound to any specific brand. His choice? A Michelin Mud2 on the front and a Michelin Jet on the rear. In addition, he and Powers put a splash of NoTubes.com sealant into their tubes for extra security.
Travis Brown (Trek-FRS) rode a pair of NoTubes.com 29er wheels featuring Bontrager tires that were set-up tubeless with sealant and only one gear. Brown has been a proponent of single speeds for ’cross for years. The pink single speed he rode was more than seven years old. Even with only one gear he was able to finish on the lead lap at Saturday’s Redline Cup — something less than half of the 56-man field was able to do.
On Sunday, again the story was tire choice. This time, though, it was the speed of the course that dictated the top racers’ choice. The tire of the day for fast grass, pavement and sand featured a file tread. There were three examples on hand. Barry Wicks (Kona-Yourkey.com) was on an exclusive pair of FMBs from Molly Cameron the proprietor of the VeloShop in Portland, Oregon.
“They are great in everything short of mud,” he said. “I think I even like it better than the [Dugast] Typhoon.”
Wicks’ teammate Ryan Trebon (Kona-Yourkey.com), who swept the weekend, was on a pair of Dugast Pipistrellos. The new tire also sports a file tread, but with ultra-aggressive, tall diamond shaped side knobs. Trebon said that, in Europe, some guys are even riding them in the mud because of the purchase the side knobs offer.
Katie Compton opted to pair a file-tread Challenge Grifo XS in the rear, with a standard Grifo in the front. On Saturday Compton and Mark Legg, her husband and mechanic, played with tire pressures. They made close to a dozen bike changes over the course of the 45-minute event.
“I would yell back not enough or too much,” she said, “and he would adjust it and we’d change the next time through the pit.”
Compton just picked up Challenge as a sponsor in the past few weeks, having relied on a mix of Dugast and Tufo tires before the switch.
Redline’s Conquest Pro and Team frames are new for the 2008 model year. They have been on the market since August, but it was our first time getting a good look at the bikes new features. Redline Pro Kevin Bradford-Parish brought his Dura-Ace equipped Conquest Team to town for the UCI races.
The major change to the new frame is its CNC machined chainstay yoke and a new chainstay mounted bridge. The combo adds considerable stiffness, says Tim Rutledge, Redline’s marketing manager. The Team frame is formed with a Scandium tubeset, while its little brother, the Conquest Pro, carries all of the same details in terms of tube shapes and features, like the CNC chainstay yoke, but in Redline’s U6 aluminum. A Conquest Pro with SRAM Rival retails for $1699, while the Scandium Conquest Team with Ultegra is $2500.
With the high profile CrossVegas event and a weekend of Boulder UCI races under his belt in 2007 Grealish is proving that he’s one of the country’s top race promoters. All I can say is thanks, Chris. Bring ’em back next year.