Some of the NECX's finest by Matt Roy. The Wilcox, I have no idea who that guy is and why he is off the bike, Roger Cadman, Mo, Cait
I show up at Matt and Mo's place on a cold morning with my Seven Sola mtb in tow. A fine crew is assembled and eating pancakes and having coffee. We all kit up and head down to MMRacing Service Corse. Now I am beginning to freak out. I have a thing with mancaves. Or bike rooms. Matt and Mo have the most insane bike room of anyone I have ever met. Matt so nicely pushes me to accept borrowing one of Mo's bikes. Not a beater bike her 'B' race bike. A full on world cup worthy Seven Mudhoney SLX. I resisted a bit almost to the point of being a pain in the butt. Matt said so nicely let's just measure the bikes and see if you fit on it. 66. Yep my saddle height and Mo's are exactly the same. Karma. Mo and I basically fit exactly the same on a cx bike. We literally just put pedals on the bike and rode off. Didn't change one thing. I slightly complained on the roll out that the bars were too low. Mo was having none of that euro hoods pointed skyward bs and we kept rolling. My friends sheepishly started giving me advice on double tap. There was some heckling going on for sure. I know I am a Campy guy. I might as well be a rodeo clown. It would be less out there I think. It took me all of ten minutes to get double tap. And I won't lie I liked it. Very crisp.
We had our first flat about 30 minutes in. No biggie. It was a nice place to stop and have a quick snack etc. I know its road season, or mtn bike season or whatnot but in reality cross season is never over. Ever. I have ridden lots of bikes. I am like a diva when it comes to my own bikes. I literally squirm around and complain and change things like 1 mm at a time. But what is still blowing my mind about Sunday's ride is I never complained or squirmed. The bike fit me that well. I had to get used to the lower levers and now see why people on SRAM descend sketchy stuff in the drops but other than that it was like a cx epiphany. They say the bike can't make you a better rider. I call bullshit on that. This bike made me a wayyy better rider. I have some thoughts on why but I need to talk with Matt & Mo and Rob a bit to have solid info to relate about it. I even liked the Fizik women's saddle that was on the bike. The last time I rode with resultsboy he went on and on about his style of SRAM-slam shifting. After riding with Red and the gearing that was on this bike I see what he was talking about. This bike had a 44/36 with a 12-28. Belgian mud gearing is what Matt called it. It was sooo nice. I run a 39x25 for my smallest gear and that is not cutting it. I need to decide what to do before next season.
But back to the ride. Matt and Mo took us on an awesome loop through the Fells. The Fells are really rocky and rooted. Not overly technical on the trails we rode on but proof that a cross bike can pretty much do it all. Obviously there are things you can't ride that you could on a mtn bike but the ride we went on was 100% rideable. We had a few flats, Cait shredded her rear derailler off at one point. Deraillers are getting smashed at an alarming rate in the woods right now. That is 3 in one week...Shiva may be trying to tell us something. That or there are a lot of sticks in the woods right now. At one point we came around a bend and Mo was swinging from a swing just hanging from a tree limb next to a pond. I love rides like this! Good solid rides. Some competition. We had some pretty spirited hill climbs on gravel. And Mo threatened to put me into the tape at one point. Well the pond actually. It was sort of my fault as I had no brakes at one point overcooked a corner and almost chopped her on a sand section as we were going across a beach. It was pretty hilarious.
Towards the end of the ride I tried to hang back and watch how Mo rode sections. Watching a PRO like Mo ride in the woods on a cross bike is priceless. You start to see little things that you never would think about doing. We rode some crazy section behind the Stone Zoo that reminded me of some of the hobo style trails in Golden Gate Park. It was just such a great time. Playing on the cx bikes. Cracking each other up. Shredding the Gnar.
I will say this about the Seven I got to ride. It was the nicest riding machine I have ever ridden. Now Matt is a legend as far as bike set up and maintenance. He put some of those skills to work when we had the derailler explosion. But it certainly shouldn't be a surprise that a bike he built and set up works this nicely. But it points to how Pro, PRO can be. A PRO bike just works better than your bike. I am sorry but its true. I had one missed shift. It was fairly amusing as we were on a transition and I decided to utilize Colin's slam shifting technique ie., going from big to little ring right before a climb. It made some noises in protest but dropped to the 36. It did make some crunching sounds and both Matt and Mo's heads turned back to look down the climb and see if I had just destroyed their bike. Thankfully I hadn't. The bike was very light. But was sooo solid. Like I said we were both climbing and descending on rough gravel and going over boulders etc. It proves that a cx race bike can be a fantastic trail bike. It was way more responsive than I had expected. Often when you think of ti you think of it being pretty flexi. Shoot my steel bikes are super flexi. Especially when you stand up and grind up something. But not this bike. You stood up and it was like putting an accelerator to the floor. All the watts went right into the wheel. No deflection at all.
Cait Dooley getting rad on the bike and off-photo by Matt Roy
My brain is still trying to figure it all out. I was sort of joking with Matt and Mo if this was part of the Seven "Trade In Program" I would seriously have left my Sola behind and taken the cx bike home. In a heartbeat. Huge thanks to Matt and Mo. Huge thanks to my good friends Cait, David and Roger for letting me hang with them and get rad in the woods. Sorry if my endless chatter got to be a bit much. It is my version of freaking out...Bikes rule....
One last thought. And I don't know why it just hit me. Matt and Mo are awesome. We all know this. At least anyone who has ever met them knows this. And Mo is a badass. 100%. She is a legend for how she shines in tough muddy cross races. If the NECX respects one thing in its heroes it is that. Rising to the tough conditions. We love that. But she is also one of the most humble people I have ever met. So nice but also so strong and such a ambassador for the sport. One thing that hit me as I was driving home after the ride was how much both of them give back. And not just the default "give back" that fills every bike clubs sponsorship pitch. They both do so much for cycling and the community. It is obvious that Mo has really taken on a mentoring role in a lot of female cyclocross racers this last couple of seasons. Mo deserves a lot of credit for fostering this next generation of female cross racer and developing them into racers. Its easy to miss it as Mo is one of us. Or because we are all friends. But what she is doing for these young woman is so important its not even funny. I tip my hat to both of them. Such class acts and such good friends.