i’ll get around to posting a review of this bike at some point in time, but for now i am just sharing these pics. after almost 1000 miles i have found this to be a great bike for my road riding ventures.
It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I might drop a few pics in here from this morning’s ride. At least a couple mornings per week I get out early (anywhere between 5am to 5:30am) to get in some ride time before work….even if just 45 minutes to an hour it at least gets my day started on a positive note. This morning’s ride consisted of some hill repeats on Double Oak Way, followed by a ride up to the cliffs and then along the ridgeline of Double Oak Mountain.
These pics are a big part of why I love living where I do so much. From my front door in Mt Laurel I have access to some of the best road riding around, along with dozens of miles of trail/dirt riding within a mile from my house. Double Oak Way is a steep Cat 4 climb that usually gets our day started (not just me, but Brian P and Scott L). I can string together a nice road century or a 3-hour trail ride without ever getting in a car.
Chain Buster Racing put on their inaugural gravel grinder race called The Assault on Mt. Currahee on February 28th, and it was a fun one. We started and ended in downtown Cornelia, GA, which seemed to be a working class semi-rural town with a few neat older buildings downtown.
Scott Lusk and I drove over to Gainesville, GA the night before, which took way too long thanks to Atlanta traffic and the redlight-infested suburb of Buford where we ate dinner (after an obligatory stop at REI). By the time we got to our hotel and had unloaded our gear and bikes it was 10:30 at night and we didn’t waste much time falling asleep. We woke early and stopped by Starbucks for coffee and oatmeal before heading out of town towards the race.
As we started at 10am, it was probably sitting right around 32 degrees or so. I was wearing a long sleeve baselayer, short sleeve baselayer, short sleeve jersey, thin arm warmers, and a jacket on my torso. My legs were covered up with thermal bib knickers, leg warmers, and thick wool socks. Aside from my toes, I never really felt cold during the race even though it remained in the 30s the entire time.
The race started out with a cop car leadout, along with a drone camera flying above that captured some great footage throughout the day. We rode a few miles on pavement to loosen up the legs and get to the edge of Cornelia, then hopped on the dirt Lake Russell Road for some fast riding and descending for around 2 miles. From there we had close to 11 miles or rollercoaster fire roads and some singletrack, including a frigid creek crossing, before hitting the signature climb up Currahee.
Currahee is famous as the training site for the Band of Brothers back in the old days, and consists of a really steep dirt road leading up to a few radio/cell towers. Once at the top, we hit the only aid station of the day so I refilled one of my bottles with Gatorade and downed a few pretzels. At this point we were roughly 1.5 hours into the race/ride and feeling pretty good. Scott led my back down the mountain with his bad-ass Industry Nine wheels holding steady through the ice, snow, and mud.
At the bottom of Currahee, we hopped onto another doubletrack trail, which would become singletrack in a few areas. It was a really nice trail system, though it seemed like we could never make much progress because we were constantly climbing in between short downhill sections. This was the first time we would realize we should have studied the elevation profile more.
After finally exiting the trail system, we hit pavement again at Old Lake Russell Road, somewhere around 29 or so miles into the race. Believing we pretty much had all of the hard stuff behind we booked in on along trying to get back with a decent time. This would be the second time we wished we studied the elevation profile better, because we began what was a paved climb of close to 800′ in elevation gain and lasting 3 miles. We followed the road along the hillside for what seemed like much more than 3 miles before finally topping out and heading down to town.
We finished up officially around 3:16, though the Strava link before shows a little less time due to stoppage. Overall it was a really fun race, and really well put together by Chain Buster Racing. The post-race meal at Natalie Jane’s in Cornelia was top-notch (I had shrimp and grits), as was the Terrapin beer on tap. Leaving town we were already talking about doing it in 2016.
Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/261139089
My time aboard the 2013 Specialized Crux Elite came to an end this past Fall when I sold it in order to buy a road bike. While I certainly enjoyed the heck out of that bike, it had begun to be relegated to almost nothing but pavement and therefore it was time for a change.
Being the only cyclocross bike I have ever owned, I don’t really have much to compare it with. However, I did find it to be a blast and a good bike for whenever I wanted to venture off smooth pavement and into the woods or on really bad paved surfaces. I put around 1200 total miles on the bike, riding everything from a road century to singletrack trails to a road duathlon. If I was able to have a third bike in addition to my mountain bike and road bike, a cyclocross bike would likely be it. However, I would do a couple of things differently.
First off, I would go ahead and opt for disc brakes. The disc brake technology was just starting to take off when I bought this bike in early 2013 and after spending so much time on rim brakes I can say without a doubt I would go for discs next time. The stock Tektra cantilever brakes that came with the Crux were crap and had basically no stopping power once the pads starting to get a little worn. I swapped those out for some FSA SL-K brakes that were better, but still not ideal, even with the upgraded pads that I put on. After having enough of those, I ended up buying some TRP EuroX brakes but never installed them before my bike sold. I would have liked to see how the TRP brakes fared, but I’m not convinced it would have been enough for me to want to forego disc brakes again.
The other thing I would do differently is to buy a carbon frame. Specialized makes some of the most comfortable aluminum frames I have ever ridden, but on some of the gravel roads I was riding it would have been nice to be on carbon. And then once I started using it more and more for road riding, carbon definitely would have helped out. But purchasing a carbon version of the bike, not on clearance like the one I bought, would have set me back probably at least another $500 to $700 and that wasn’t really an option when I made the purchase.
So I have since replaced the Crux with a Scott CR1 road bike, which I will eventually get around to reviewing on here. But even though I wasn’t a fan of the brakes and would have preferred a carbon frame, I still am a big fan of my old Crux. I never actually used it for cyclocross racing like I had intended when buying (thanks to a separated shoulder during cx season) but I did get some valuable use and plenty of fun from the Crux.
For the past two Januarys I have posted the cumulative ride stats from the previous calendar year…..here is what the 2014 tally looked like (according to Training Peaks):
2790 total miles
1615 mountain bike miles
337 road/cyclocross miles
838 indoor trainer miles
157,665 total feet of elevation gain
This ended up being around 250 more miles than I what I posted in 2013, as well as over 37,000 feet more in climbing. My trainer miles were down slightly, even though we had a rough winter in 2013. My road/cx miles were way down, whereas my mountain bike miles were likewise way up. Since the ratio of mountain bike miles to road/cx miles was higher, this meant I spent more time in the saddle riding my bike in 2014 than I did in 2013 (due to slower average speed).
I think after looking at the above stats what I am most pleased with is the increase in elevation gain. This is also after I switched from a Cateye Stealth 50 GPS to a Garmin 510 GPS late in the summer, with the Garmin being more accurate. The Cateye tended to err on the high side, usually showing more elevation gain than what I actually accomplished. So, in reality my increase in elevation gain is more than the math shows (probably somewhere around 39,000 to 40,000 feet in lieu of 37,000 feet).
Another thing that happened in 2014 was that me, Brian, and Scott started going on regular morning rides before work from early Spring through late Fall. Three mornings per week with average mountain bike rides of 14 miles and 1300 feet of climbing helped get in the miles without sacrificing the rest of my daily schedule or family life. Throw in a longer weekend ride and everything worked out well.
I purchased a new road bike in December 2014 to replace the cx bike that I sold a couple months earlier. With some additional focus on logging longer road rides in 2015, I should be able to hit a higher total mark in mileage for this year if no injuries or schedule setbacks arise.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
I’ve been on somewhat of a kick lately of trying to catalog my riding routes on top of Double Oak Mountain, primarily within property owned by EBSCO. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, EBSCO requires a permit to ride their trails and I am one of a few lucky people to have such a permit. So….don’t say I didn’t warn you if you get caught up there without one. Also, it should be mentioned that their trails are very secluded and could be difficult to find help should any accidents arise.
With that said, below are some annotated maps I took from Google Earth. I imported around 7 or 8 rides from 2014 into one kmz file and then brought them into Google Earth to see how they stacked up with each other. There are a few places where I briefly lost GPS signal, which caused some errant straight lines, but otherwise they are pretty accurate.
A brief rundown of the trail options is as follows: from Highway 41 I typically access the trails via Double Oak Way, which is a paved road going up to a cell tower on top of the mountain. The entire road makes a Cat 3 climb, though the bottom portion can be ridden by itself for a Cat 4 climb. From Double Oak Way, there are doubletrack trails that can be taken from 5 different points, though really only 4 of them are navigable. Furthermore, most of these trails have multiple splits that lead to different areas. It is possible to link up to Forest Parks, Jones Valley Urban Farm, Dunnavant Valley Greenway Trail, Stonegate Farms, Hw4 43, and even the top of Hwy 25 without ever leaving the doubletrack. Also, there are multiple trails on the opposite site of Hwy 43 that are controlled by EBSCO, many of which I still haven’t had the chance to fully explore. The maps below show just a portion of those trails.