True North Singlespeed Cross | Gravel Cyclist

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Taking CX Racing in Scotland to the next level: a proposal.


The increased popularity of the SCX Series over the last few years has been fantastic for the sport, but it hasn’t come without issues. Crowded race schedules and limited daylight have led to difficulties in establishing separate Women’s and U10 races and, at times, unsafe racing, limited or no pre-ride time, too much traffic on course, parking issues, stressed organisers, stressed Comms and stressed racers.

By retaining a timetable format devised 3-4 years ago when numbers were around 50%-70% of current levels, I believe we’re creating an unnecessary constraint on developing our sport. My personal view is that the time has come to split out Youth racing from Adult, in order to give both groups room to develop.

One way to do this, as proposed at the AGM, is to run two separate courses at the same venue to allow simultaneous Youth and Adult racing. While this would probably be the ideal solution, not all current Series venues have the space (or volunteer numbers) to run two sets of racing at once. The Super Quaich race at Fox Lake showed it’s possible for two clubs to run a race, with one taking the reins for the Youth race and the other the Adult racing, but these races were not being held at the same time.

My suggestion is to go one step further, and to initiate a SCX Youth Series, run on different weekends to the SCX Series races. Venues which can’t currently cope with the 600-700 racers Series events attract might opt to host Youth races, allowing new courses to be developed. Clubs with a large youth focus might prefer to put on U16 racing, along the lines of the well established and increasingly popular Youth Dirt Crit Series in NE Scotland.

Because the family aspect of race day is crucial, I feel it’s important that we still involve younger riders at the Series races. How about scheduling the Scottish Cycling Regional CX Clusters on Series dates and utilising a separate section of the venue? Adult Series races could be scheduled over a whole day, while our younger riders get the chance to develop their skills in a non-race environment, then race the following weekend. By focusing on providing a structured coaching environment, and still providing a season long racing experience, the already high standard of youth riding could be developed further (and probably to a higher level than by providing racing alone).

There are, of course, many potential unknowns, some of which might make this approach unworkable. Would parents who race be put off by the extra driving? Would we be able to get enough coaches? Would separate Youth races be financially viable? Would clubs step up to put on races?

I don’t have answers to those questions, but I also don’t know if the current year on year growth in rider numbers (15-20%) can be sustained with our current system. By putting these thoughts out there, I hope I can at least get people thinking about solutions. As a race organiser, my hunch is the status quo is probably not an option for too much longer and that we should start work on taking it up a notch sooner rather than later.

Experiments in 650b

If anyone is looking for “narrower” 650b MTB tyres to fit into a CX Frame, I’ve been doing a few experiments and I thought I’d give some feedback.

I have a Van Dessel G&T, with a disc fork and fairly average looking clearance. As a guide, I can fit a 700×41 Knard in all my CX frames (Ridley X Night, Singular Kite and the VanD).

All sizes were measured on tyres with tubes at 35psi. I may go tubeless eventually but, as you can probably understand, I’ve been swapping tyres a lot recently…

Maxxis Pace (labelled as 1.95) sizes up way smaller than that. On my cheapo Crossmax rims they’re around 46mm.

Compass Horizons (47mm) size up at 47mm.

Panaracer Comet 2.0 come in at 49mm

Specialized Ground Control 2.1 is about the same, at 49mm

Why would you want to do this? Well, for off road touring 35mm CX tyres with a fully laden bikepacking rig might not be the most comfortable ride. I started looking because I wanted to ride my drop bar bike all summer as I am a crap descender, and wanted to get a bit sideways in the drops without the risk of puncturing. Also, a lot of the off-road riding up here consists of estate tracks and forestry/windfarm access roads, although there’s plenty wilder stuff too.

So if you’re looking for a cheap drop bar MTB for summer exploration and bikepacking and have a CX bike, try and hook yourself up with a mate who has a pair of 650b wheels you can try out. In my experience, clearance at the rear chainstays is usually the issue on CX bikes. The Horizons make for a great road/gravel wheel (and look boss) but they do like to get sideways in the mud, while the Comets are pretty like the WTB Nano, but with more volume. I’ve just fitted the Pace, so will feedback how that goes. And if anyone wants the Ground Controls, they don’t fit so make me an offer!