Over the past week there has been a great deal of hype in the cyclocross world. With the Elite men and women racing in Louisville for the first ever U.S. based Cyclocross Worlds. If you have been reading through any of the cycling news based sites or magazines you would have noticed that there has been a great deal of focus on these important races.
One thing that has not been mentioned that has stood out to me is the story of current U.S. National Champion, Jonathan Page. Through 2012 he has not had a bike sponsor, or title sponsor for that matter, and had been riding and racing on a Blue brand cyclocross bike. After his Nationals victory he was signed by Fuji bikes, hardly one week before his largest race of the year. Here is what I see as a coach, bike fit specialist and athlete:
- Even though as a professional and he has a full time mechanic to take care of his equipment and make sure it works well you drastically increase your risk of something going wrong.
- When you have been training and racing on the same equipment for a whole season. One week out you are now changing not only the bike but the fit and the way the bike handles. As many of you know fitting is not always an instantaneous process and a fair bit of the fine tuning takes time. Having a bike that doesn’t feel perfect has a big impact on not only comfort but confidence which ultimately can impact outcome.
- As athletes we all fall prey to marketing hype, athlete promotion and “sex appeal” of equipment. This is a perfect example in my eyes that a lot of times it comes down to money for so many athletes. Keep in mind that your hero is working when they are training and racing. A lot of the equipment comes down to a paycheck even if it isn’t the most optimal thing out there. You can see this at some of the large races where a wheel is re-branded with another name but the dimpling clearly means it is a Zipp wheel.
What does this mean for you. Be smart, remember that you do this for fun and because you love your sport. If you are unsure of what to do research the product and if you can’t find anything try to find a friend or trusted source that has the knowledge to help you. This could be your local bike shop or it could be your coach. As coaches many of us pride ourselves in doing a fair number of research on a great deal of our sport to offer our athletes a less biased viewpoint.