Personal bike projects are an inevitability in the life of a bicycle mechanic. First you want to try one thing, and then another, and pretty soon you’ve got a stable of bikes and they’ve all been through various incarnations. You’ve had a porteur rack, that bikes been fixed, you ran single speed MTB for a while and there is a frankenbike hiding somewhere in the back. The inspiration never stops, and after a while you can look at your pile of parts and think, “I’m pretty sure I have everything I need to build this except tires.” Inevitably you don’t. Something you thought was going to cost you $50.00 ends up in the triple digits. But you’ve already thought you could do it, so you have to finish it.
That’s pretty much how it went turning the Cross Check into a Single Speed ‘Cross Machine. I had originally purchased the ‘check to be a winter bike to extend the life of my beloved Allegro. But I was greatly disappointed by the overbuilt nature of the tubes and the dead feel. I moved on to other projects, but I never managed to get rid of the ‘check. When I moved back up to Alaska, it was originally going to be left in Oregon but there was room in the trailer and soon I needed a wet weather bike again. Familiar trips down familiar roads you could say. Spring came around and the fenders on the ‘check were vastly under suited for the wet sand spray we get around these parts, and the ‘check went back into storage. Coming back out for the river festival and various town trips as my “replaceable” bike.
Then the idea of having a Cyclocross series came up. Cyclocross is such a wonderful discipline. Its gritty, wild and fun. I started collecting obstacles and dreaming courses and the ‘check popped back into my mind. Since I’m planning the courses and running the event, its unlikely I’ll get to participate much in the races. But a true course designer needs to ride the course to apply the correct amount of suffering to racers. And so the transformation began. First the rack and fenders came off, then the derailleurs and cranks. The bar end shifters were a pain to get off without removing the handlebar tape, but I succeeded. The cassette and chain came off and were replaced with a single speed cog and an American flag single speed chain. New tires went on and were converted to ghetto tubeless, the handlebars were lowered, and beer was consumed.
The bike was finished. The next day I took some old cedar planks and chopped and stacked them, turning them into barriers. They’re nearly regulation height. In fact they’re only about a centimeter taller than UCI regulations. I think that’s okay, considering the UCI has jack all to do with our cross races. These aren’t the only barriers riders will experience on the course, just the most normal. The cyclocross races are now only a week away. The courses have been planned, scouted, and scrutinized. A skills clinic has been scheduled before the first race. Hand-up strategies have been set, and the requisite supplies have been requisitioned. There isn’t anything left to do at the point but race, and I’m ready. Are you?