My obsession with bicycles has been lifelong but, somewhat ironically given my Northern Hemisphere heritage, I only started racing cyclocross in the depths of an Upper Hutt winter in 2010. Courtesy of the early days Huttcross crew, I debuted on my full suspension mountain bike and within two races had found myself an aluminium frame 105 groupo ‘cross rig that is still going strong at the local events under its third owner.
I’d describe myself as more of a reliability weenie than out-and-out weight weenie. Endurance racing and long training missions have taught me a lot about the benefits of a trustworthy race weapon, so all my bikes are built with dependability as well as high performance in mind.
My ’16 edition Niner BSB’s fluro yellow and green paint job was definitely eye catching and I’ve had plenty of comments from friends saying that they spotted my bike on the way to the races well before they noticed the car. The new Niner BSB lean green racing machine shouts for itself. Named in honour of the ‘cross culture of “Blood, Sweat & Beer” this ’17 edition has had a few minor tweaks over previous editions but stays true to the familiar geometry that strikes a balance between race aggressiveness and handling and if my ’16 edition Niner BSB is anything to go by, this will be a ripper – I have comfortably ridden my ’16 edition BSB on long gravel missions as well as more technical off-road Wellington trails for 15 months and its lapped up the punishment.
The infamous Capital Cycles spannering wizard who goes by the alter ego of Diggle has helped me tweak my CX setup this season and I’ve been running a 1×11 setup with a wide range XTR cassette twinned with a Di2 XTR rear mech and Ultegra Di2 shifters. This setup is becoming more popular on cyclocross rigs now and I’m not alone on the startline running an amalgamation of MTB and road/cross specific componentry. Diggle also worked his magic to allow an e-tap type setup with the shifters – so I just grab a handful of the left lever when I want to make life easier on the steep pinches without having to fumble around precisely while I’m on the limit. It works beautifully even when you’re well into the red.
I’ve been a long-time fangirl of the stiffness of Rotor cranks and I’m looking forward to running a Qring on this bike. The first time I ran Qrings was on my XC rig to take my first Karapoti win in 2013 but running them with a 1x setup removes the frustrating loss of performance of a high riding front mech with elliptical chainrings. I’ve picked a turquoise Chris King bottom bracket, predominantly due to the amount of mud, grit and water that part of the bike gets hit by in ‘cross conditions and because it’s hard to go passed CK for durability.
In my opinion, the Wheelworks boys at Lyall Bay have been a step ahead of the game for some time. I first asked Tristan for a set of tubular wheels last year. He suggested I try the tubeless ready Maker ARs and guaranteed he’d replace them with tubulars if I wasn’t 100% satisfied. That was last year and I’ve stayed on them ever since. I’ve always paired them with tubeless ready tyres and have had zero burping issues even at really low pressures despite the small volume of ‘cross tyres. Last year, sticking to tubeless ready CX tyres was a bit restrictive in terms of choice but that is definitely an issue of the past as more and more brands join the TR band. I’ve had a play around with a few options but I’m sticking with the 32mm Stans IRCs, which when fitted to the 21mm internal wide rim Maker ARs measure up perfectly at the UCI required 33mm (which is not so important for racing on Kiwi soil but very important for World Cups next month). The end result is low pressure pinch-flat-free traction for days without any of the hassle of trying to master the dark art of tubular glue at home in the garage in the wee small hours of the night.
Finally, because I’m a bike geek, I’ve finished it off with some cool custom bits including a Lion of Flanders stem cap to help me channel my inner Sven, Kogel CX jockey wheels and matching Supacaz tape. Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter.