Saturday, July 5, 2008

Surly Cross-Check

I was working at the Bike Doctor in the summer of 2004. I had started racing cyclocross the previous year on the Mikado. Realizing this was somewhat less than ideal to race on I had bought the on Cannondale ‘Cross bike in the spring when I started working at the doc. However during the summer I had picked up the 1FG and was LOVING it. I even raced on it. That got me to thinking; if I could race on a single speed mountain bike, why not race on a single speed cyclocross bike!? I mean, really – in all the races I had raced in I had NEVER used more than one gear ANYWAY!? Maybe if I had a singlespeed ‘cross bike with a gear that was slightly (…or considerably!?) bigger than the lowest gear on my geared bikes it would FORCE me to go faster – No wimping out in the granny gears!

Like any bike geek I’ve always dreamed about starting from a frame and building a bike. When better to do that than when working at a bike store and getting a staff discount? I had a lot of fun building this bike. It’s probably my favourite in the stable. Which is odd, as I don’t actually get around to riding it much…

I built it up with a Surly flip-flop hub as I had gotten this idea that it might be fun to try a fixey – one ride on it and – oh man, it was so damn much fun - I was already plotting a dedicated road fixey – which ultimately lead to The Rocket.

Amanda balked at the idea of me getting a steel bike. A year later we were moving stuff around in the garage and she actually lifted it up and couldn’t believe how light it was. Now it’s no feather weight but it sure isn’t a tank!

This replaced the Cannondale as my Cyclocross Racing Bike… before I ever even raced on the Cannondale… In fact the Cannondale has only ever been used as a road bike… Ah well…

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Here’s what it looks like today. I’ll probably switch one of my brooks saddles onto it when I start riding it a bit more regularly. Hmmmm… looks a bit dirty… shameful… It’s been dirtier though…

I had this up and running just in time for the first cyclocross race in 2004… This was at one of the later races – the Saskatoon Double Cross Weekend. It was muddy and wet and cold like a “real” ‘cross race ought to be.

Wow… did I ride it home like that? I probably went as far as the Bike Doc and sprayed it down at the car wash across the street.

I didn’t have the wheels built for the first race… What the…!? Is that a leopard print thong you’re wearing, tim?!

Oh yes indeed! There used to be a race in the Sask provincial race series called Diva Cross – the cross-dressing ‘cross race. There were time penalties for those who didn’t cross dress and time bonuses for the butchest babe and the sultriest dude. I need ever advantage I could get so I was going for the time bonus this year.

Unfortunately they had the worst system EVER for determining who got the time bonuses. Instead of anyone simply being appointed judge they thought they’d be fair and have people vote – fair enough… except there were three sheets one which you were to write the names of the people you thought were your first second and third choice, respectively. The person with the most votes on each sheet won and was given a 30, 20, and 10 second time bonus…. Is anyone else seeing the flaw in this system…? Clearly there were no statisticians on the planning committee. Technically if you had enough people voting for you in first second and third place you could take all three…?! Ah well…

This is at the Regina Double Cross Weekend.

Regina Double Cross Weekend again. All these nice action hero shots were taken by Amanda. We rented a car and drove down with Finnegan – just 9 months old – and stayed at a B&B. Nice to make a weekend of it.

Who is that man in black…?

Saskatchewan Cyclocross Provincial Championships 2004. Little stretch of road included in it…

More of the ’04 Provincials. It was a fun course – lots of twists and turns and a couple of nasty run ups – walk ups for most. Not me. I RAN every run –up – there’s always a downhill on the other side that you can recover on!

This was the ’05 ‘Cross Provincials. In 2005 I rode three races fixed. Yeah, that’s right, with a fixed gear. 36x15. I have to say I did go quicker – probably had to do with the fact that I had to pedal through stuff I would have ordinarily coasted through.

Not a lot of steep run-ups in this one. Just grass. Lots and lots of grass.

A bit blurry but this illustrates my high-speed can-can dismount when using a fixey. It takes some careful timing – basically you unclip the right foot, keeping your left leg straight let momentum carry you up and bring the right foot over the top tube (as above) then as you come back down step through and hit the ground running – twisting your left foot out as you go! Takes some practice… but it works.

The downside of the course – at least on a fixey – was the rock wall. You can kind of see it in the background. It runs for a good length through the park, varying in height. At a point where it’s only about a foot high they decided to have the course cross it… going down hill… straight downhill, with an abrupt 90° left turn at the bottom. I guess a sensible person could have dismounted at the top, ran down the short bank, hopped down the wall and re-mounted and carried on. But no one else on their free-wheelin’ multi geared bikes were doing that so I’d be damned if I would!

Every time I went over that drop one of my pedals struck the wall being egg-beaters that popped my foot right out! I can’t believe I made it through the race without eating it at least once! That’s skill, baby! (or blind-fucking-dumb-luck!)

The ’05 ‘cross provincials was the last race I rode in. I’m planning on racing again this year though – so stay tuned!

Hmmmm... maybe I should have put all these racing pictures in a separate "cyclocross racing" post... Ah well...

Vital Statistics:
Bike: Surly CrossXCheck
Frame: Double butted 4130 Cro-mo – STEEL IS REAL!
Fork: Surly Cross-Check fork - lugged and brazed cro-mo.
Headset: FSA
Stem: ? 6061 alloy…
Bar: Ritchey comp 6061 double-butted
Grips: Cinelli (I think…) orange cork tape
Brake levers: Diacompe
Gear Shifters: NOT APPLICABLE!
Brakes: Tektro Oryx
Bottom Bracket:
-Hubs: Surly 32 hole (rear is flip-flop single-fixed)
-FW/Cog/etc: ACS Claws16T/Surly SS 15T Fixed cog
-Spokes: DT black
-Rims: Mavic Open Pro
Tires: Panaracer Cross blaster.
Post: Ritchey
Saddle: San Marco Anatomica 371 (though usually it’s one of the Brooks B-17 saddles)


Bubba said...

Ok, just ran across this older post...I need advice...I have a Cross Check frame coming my way and I want it to be a single speed build. I'm just confused as to the rear hub set is it attached...was it secure? Basically, what components did you use to turn it into a single speed? or what's the diff between single speed and fixie??

Lance said...

I know this is an older post but when I searched for singl speed crosscheck, your site came up. Can you tell me what size front chainring you are using? I didn't see it on your specs.Thanks!

tim said...

it's a Surly 36t stainless.

tim said...

Sorry Bubba I missed your comment earlier...

The rear wheel I built up with a Surly single/fixed, flip-flop hub. One side has a threaded on single speed freewheel, the other side has a fixed gear cog and lock ring (which, I guess, are also threaded on...). The freewheel means you can coast. The fixed gear means if the wheel is moving the crank is moving and vice-versa - you can not coast.

The Surly frame has horizontal drop-outs so chain tension is adjusted by simply moving the axel to where it needs to be in the drop-out and tightening accordingly.

Hope that helps a bit...?