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CX Season and Shop Hours

Cross season is now officially upon us. There have been a smattering of local Tuesday Night Worlds and skills workshops, a few Thursday night races, and even some of you eager beavers have already travelled up and down the I5 corridor to get your veldrijden fix in while the temps were decidedly un-Belgian. This weekend the PNW race season makes it’s official kick off with the opening of the Cross Crusade series in Portland at Alpenrose Dairy. Two weeks later, the Southern Oregon schedule swings into action with a full day clinic in Jacksonville and then races the following five Saturdays scattered throughout the State of Jefferson.

Part of being a fully functional and operational Death Star Service Course, to take care of the racers and enthusiasts, sometimes it calls for me to pack up the shop and hit the road. Many of my customers will be at these events and that means I’ll be there to support them. Sure, I’ll get my own race in as well, but it’s really is about taking care of the local, loyal cycling community that takes care of me. The downside is that because I am a one person operation, the physical shop will be closed on those days. I’ll try hard to minimize any inconvenience that may spring up because of that. On your end, just give me a ring, shoot me an email, message me on whatever your favorite social media is between Facebook and Twitter, or even stop in and give me a day or so heads up on what you need and the odds are very good to great that I’ll still be able to take care of you and get you rolling for the weekend. Don’t forget I still offer a pick up and delivery service, so if that helps out, feel free to take advantage of it. During cross season, there will be no charge for it unless you decide you need a bike dropped off in Oakridge, then you have to pay for my camping and split the cost of a six pack for us to drink after we shred Alpine trail.

Here’s the dates the shop will be closed. For you super sleuths out there, you’ll keenly notice those are the same days as the first Cross Crusade race and the entire Southern Oregon Outlaw Series including the clinic. As always, please reach out and contact me if you have any questions. See you at the races!

Saturday October 11th.

Saturday October 18th.

Saturday October 25th.

Saturday November 1st.

Saturday November 8th.

Saturday November 15th.

Saturday November 22nd.

Here’s the link to the Southern Oregon Outlaw CX Series.

Click the link to see all of the Cross Crusade Series races.

And lastly, if you want to check out any other races in Oregon or in the State of Jefferson, here ya go.

PVC CX Barriers

Cross season is starting to ramp up, or all ready here depending upon who you ask. Either way, there have been clinics and practice sessions happening all over. One thing they all have is common is the PVC practice barrier. Races and full day clinics will use the heavy, durable, and depending upon your skill level, often intimidating wooden barriers. They are usually anchored into the ground and trust me, they d0n’t move if you hit them. The PVC barrier works better for the after work skills drills and are a great way to ease into the CX dismount and carry if you are new to the sport. They are light, cheap, and easily portable. They also tend to give if you bang into them with your body or your bike (or both!) and they can be configured at just about any height to facilitate  learning and negate the fear factor. Here’s how to make one for under $10. I made myself two so that I can practice my doubles or stack them side by side if I want to use them to replicate a regulation width barrier.

Here’s the break down on the parts you’ll need. Because I’m not a plumber, I’m not entirely certain on what all of these are called, but that’s what pictures are for, right? Ok, here we go.
Get yourself one 10′ length of 1/2″ PVC pipe. The cheap white stuff works great. Then grab one 10′ length of 3/4″ PVC pipe. Actually, save getting those for last, otherwise you’ll wind up knocking something over or someone upside the head as you try and hang onto two flexy pipes and grab a bunch of small fittings and couplers.

Hint: Most hardware stores have their plumbing bits in bins with a color coding on the front of the box that corresponds to the size of the fitting. That helps speed things up so you aren’t looking at labels for the exact size, but double check what you’re getting before you check out. Lazy folks like to put fittings back in the wrong box all the time.

IMG_5185

You’ll need two of these per barrier. They are sleeves that hold together two pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe end to end. They have a little stop in the middle of them so each piece of PVC goes in the same amount and stops without pushing the other piece out. They coast about 30 cents each.

IMG_5182

Two of these per barrier also. The 1/2″ PVC pipe slides into the female, smooth end and the threaded end goes into an elbow that the legs will use. Make certain both the threaded and smooth junctions are 1/2″ though. They run about 35 cents each.

IMG_5183

I don’t know what these little coupler/elbows are called, but you’ll need two per barrier. They are what connects the cross bar to the legs. The smaller threaded female junction connects to the cross bar piece just above. The legs slide into the 3/4″ female ends. They run about $1.65 each.
IMG_5184

This is how they go together.you only need one more thing before you wrangle the PVC pipe up to the checkout and that is some caps or the ends of the legs. Caps aren’t needed, but they do help keep the leg ends from cracking or sinking down into the mud. The ends are rounded, so they tend to set up better without wobbling on uneven terrain like grass or dirt.

IMG_5187

You can even get them without the dog hair and dirt this one has. You’ll need four per barrier and they cost about 40 cents each.

Once you’re home, take a hacksaw and cut the 1/2″ PVC pipe into 3, 24″ lengths. FYI, some hardware stores sell the pipe in short lengths like this. Feel free to grab three of them and save yourself a little time on the saw. Now after your 1/2″ PVC is cut, stick them together with the two sleeves like this.

IMG_5186

Cut the 3/4″ PVC into 21.5″ lengths if you want to end up with a regulation 16″ or 40cm barrier. Of course you can always make them a bit shorter if you want. This is a god chance for you to bust out your grade 10 geometry and dust off the old Pythagorean Theorem. Pop the caps on one end after cutting them and put the other end in your three way elbows.

IMG_5189

Once the legs are in, slide in the cross bar into both sets of legs and you’re good to go. Once you learn the assembly procedure, it should only take a few seconds to put them together or take them apart. They easily fit in a messenger bag or back pack and if you totally wad up a dismount and break one, they are dirt cheap to fix.
IMG_5190
Cheers and happy achertvolging!!

 

Custom Handmade Wheels

Wheels

Lets talk about wheels for a minute. For a bike they are a very important piece of the puzzle. Wheels have a large effect on the quality of how your bikes rides. Luckily for you guys, the consumer, most of the wheels that come stock on bikes are pretty decent. The bike companies have done an excellent job of putting wheels on bikes that are reasonably light, roll smooth and fast, and last a fair amount of time without needing too much attention or maintenance.  By making a few thousand of the same type of wheel, the bike and wheel companies are able to offer a nice wheel at a fair price. You build enough of any one thing and you tend to get fairly efficient at it. It’s called manufacturing to scale. It drives the overall price of anything down by allowing for the most streamlined process. 

The problem with manufacturing to scale is to do it properly, you have to make a large amount of the exact same thing. I’m guessing that most of you aren’t exactly the same size or shape as one another. I’m also pretty certain that all you different sized and shaped people ride in various types of terrain. I’ll also go out on a limb and assume that while traveling over all those various tyoes of terrain, you divergent build of riders also have unique and varied riding styles.

Those stock wheels that came on your bike don’t know or care about any of that. They were designed for a rider of average size, weight, riding style, and over an moderate amount of terrain. They don’t care if you are 220lbs. or 110lbs. Same wheels. They don’t care if you ride in Florida or Colorado. Same wheels. They don’t care if you are a hard charging crit racer or a recreational bike path user. Same wheels. They don’t care if you grew up on a BMX track and have awesome technical skill or if you just smash through stuff. Same wheels.

Now again, those wheels are good wheels. But they are bit like buying a great car and never adjusting the seat position. Actually, that’s a terrible analogy. Wheels, custom wheels, are what truly make a bike yours. A long time ago, I fancied myself good at golf. And I wasn’t half bad. Not pro tour level talent or even club pro talent, but good enough. College level good, but probably not D1. I thought at one point my skills warranted a custom built set of very expensive Ping irons. Custom shafts, custom lay and face angle, even grips just right for my hands and grip. Those clubs sang. I still hit errant shots that didn’t go where I wanted them to, but no club will correct a swing defect or mental faults, of which I had plenty. But those clubs hit more shots better and with greater ease than any I had ever played before. I still have them and every so often I  drag them out and hit a few buckets and play a quick nine. And because those clubs are better than I ever was or ever will be, but were built for me, I still fall back into the old rhythms quicker and easier than I have any right too.

That’s not much better of an analogy, but it’s what has stuck in my craw, and besides, all the trade magazines say cycling is the new golf, so lets just run with it. When you take the time to sit down with your favorite wrench to discuss an new set of wheels, that person is going to (or should, anyway) take into consideration all the things that you want and need in a set of wheels. Height, weight, riding style sure, but also the important things. Things like what the wheels should feel like slicing a turn. How they’ll track through the rain ruts and washboard. Jumping to cover a break and feeling them snap up to 28 mph. How they’ll smoothly scrub speed and panic stop under full control. How they’ll hold up under a loaded off road tour and yet still be snappy on the local gravel rides.

Other things like how the hubs are serviceable. Spokes are ones you can find at any local bike shop. Rims designed to seat a tubeless tire quickly or match the profile of a cyclocross tubular. Nipples that won’t corrode under harsh commuting conditions. Axles you can swap out from QR to thru-axle and back as needed. CenterLock or 6 Bolt.

Important things like de-badging rims of stickers. Proper nipple color selection. Silver or black spokes. Has going full stealth black jumped the shark stylistically? Overall color and style points. All of the above things go into making your wheels for you, they are all important, and none of it was considered when every single bike company choose which ones to spec on your bike.

Of course, this is the point where I’m supposed to link you over to to website with a dazzling array of wheel options for you to choose from. Wheels built with boutique hubs and butted and bladed spokes, and nipples in all the colors of the Skittle rainbow. Rims as deep as the deepest dish pizza. Wide rims, aero rims, tubeless, and tubular rims. Machined and eyeleted. Carbon. Anodized. All of these wheels already pre-programmed and ready to select from the drop down menus. Only problem is those wheels aren’t yours. They were predetermined to have a sexy anodized appeal to the widest range audience. They are shiny, trendy versions of the stock wheels you already own.

The other standard is to link you to a site where you choose all the parts and a basic calculator spits out a wheel spec and price. A few clicks and a PayPal transaction and you’ve determined what type of wheels will be anonymously built for you. The issue with these is you aren’t hiring a wheelsmith to build your wheels. You’re paying for for someone to assemble a list of parts. You should be choosing a wheelsmith and not a wheelbuilder.

Choosing a wheelsmith is what makes a custom built wheel special. Tati Cycles explains best what the difference is between a wheelbuilder and a wheelsmith. Take a few moments and read his much more elegant treatise on wheels.

http://taticycles.com/p/513

Service Course Velo is your wheelsmith and not your wheelbuilder.

I’ve built a lot of wheels in the almost 20 years I’ve been turning wrenches in the bike industry. I’ve built them too light, too heavy, under spoked, not enough crosses, under tensioned, poorly prepped, and improperly spec’d. But those wheels were excellent learning tools. All those wrong wheels help teach me what a person needs in a pair of  wheels. Pulling apart the wrecked, crashed, and damaged remains allowed me to do bike shop CSI on what went wrong and how to make it better and right the next time. Mostly, it taught me to listen to what the customer needs above what the trendy, hot wheel component might be. It taught me to build a wheel that is light, stiff, round, true, and stays that way for as long as it possibly can and when it does finally go pear shaped, to be easily fixed, either trailside or in the shop. Ultimately, it taught me to build the right wheels for the customer.

All that said, there are certain rims, hubs and spokes that tend to pop up fairly frequently in a lot of Service Course Velo’s wheels. Mostly it’s due to their quality. I’m in a fortunate position to not have to stock items or product I don’t stand behind or believe in. But as bike shops are businesses, there are often other concerns that need to be taken into account as well. Availability is pretty high up on the list. If I can’t readily source a company’s product, let alone get parts and technical support for it, then it doesn’t behoove you or me to offer it in a wheel build. It’s also nice to do business with vendors who run upstanding businesses and are nice people. Life is too short and it just ruins the fun of riding a bike to have to deal with jerks, flakes, and assholes.

Obviously, buying a custom set of wheels is a not insignificant financial undertaking. But if you have the means to do it, it is well worth it. Also, if the stock wheels that came spec’d on your bike are nearing the end of their serviceable life, then quite often you’d be surprised by how affordable a hand made set of custom wheels can be.

If you are interested in your own set of wheels, custom built just for you and how you ride, then call, email, or stop by. I’d love to sit down and have a chat with you about all the parts and pieces. But I’d really like to discuss how I can build you a set of wheels that the only time you’ll notice them is when they make you smile.

Listed below is some of the brands Service Course Velo regularly uses in a big ol’ variety of combinations when building wheels.

Chris King

White Industries

Shimano

Campagnolo

Tune

DT

Velocity

H+Son

Hed

Enve

Stan’s No Tubes

WTB

Mavic

Sapim

Light-Bicycle 

Pacenti

American Classic

Phil Wood

Hadley

Miche

Project 321

Hope

Powertap

Paul’s Components

Gravel Tires

Gravel grinding or whatever term you want to call it is the hot new thing in road cycling. But because the bike industry is rushing headlong trying to capture as much of this “new” market share and the dollars that go along with it, there are a ton of products being thrown out to you, the consumers with the “gravel grinding” moniker attached. Many of those items look wildly different from each other and you’d wonder how something designed for a specific use could vary in size, construction, appearance, and price so much. Tell someone they need a tire for their road bike and they pretty much have a good idea of generally what it is. Same with a mountain bike tire. But what do you think of when you want a tire for this hot new trend sweeping the nation? Best answer? That depends. But stick with me and I’ll try and see if I can shed a little light on the matter so you can walk in armed with the proper knowledge to be able to plunk down on a new set of treads.

First things first. There are all types of gravel and terrain that make up the genre “gravel grinding”. (Anyone else getting tired of that term yet? Sorry, it’s the best I have so far, so you’ll have to keep hearing it for a while until something better comes along. I’ll try to use it sparingly.) The types of gravel you’ll encounter will be dictated by the terrain you live in, the budget of your county, state, and federal road managers, what the roads are used for, and just what types of surfaces you personally are willing to travel down. For example, in the midwest, there are tons of rolling gravel roads that connect the small counties and farms of the area. Out here in the PNW, many of our roads are there because of the logging industry and they tend to go winding up into the mountains and back down. Sometimes the roads are irrigation canal accesses or abandoned sections of highway that nature has reclaimed when the straightened out and widened the roads. Also, a lot of the bikes and tires out there work pretty darn well on less severe trails and singletrack.  And in case you didn’t notice, but even the quality of the asphalt the highway crews are laying down has gone down in recent years. Hell, half the time it isn’t even asphalt, it’s chip seal and the size of the rocks they use keep getting bigger and bigger to save money. One last thing, even if you only ride on the road and never venture down the beaten path so to speak, if you ride anytime between November 1st and May 1st and live in N. America you may have picked up on that the shoulders you occupy are filled full of sand, cinders, glass, and de-icer essentially making every road ride a ghetto gravel grind by default.

So long story longer, when it comes to deciding what type of tire to choose it pretty much comes down to the types of gravel, dirt, trail, and pavement you’re going to be on and how much of your overall riding you’ll spend on each type. If you spend the vast majority of your rides on pavement, crappy chip seal roads that at worse look like this:

Super Smooth Gravel

then I would stick with a basic road style tire. But pick one that is bigger than a 23c and has some sort of puncture protection. 25’s are nice and 28’s are even better. You don’t really need much in the way of knobs or even tread, but having a higher volume tire to smooth out the small pebbles, rocks and occasional washboard is much nicer. You won’t feel like you’re getting bounced around and your comfort and control will go way up. Basically you’re putting on your own Paris Roubaix tire. Sure that race has sections of cobbles, but they only make up about 90k of the 260+k that is that race. Just don’t forget to air down. There’s no reason to be running 100+ psi in a 28c road tire. Think more along the lines of 70-80psi and you’ll really like the smoothness and control of the ride.

*Just a quick aside. Service Course Velo has been using and carrying Clement tires for the last two years and I can’t say enough good things about them. So throughout this article there are going to be times where it’s gonna to sound a bit like a sales pitch. That’s because it is. I’m just giving you fair warning.*

The Strada LLG is going to be your weapon of choice for these types of rides. It comes in three sizes (23, 25, and 28c), two sidewall color options (tan or black), two casing thread counts (60 or 120tpi) and tow rubber compounds (single or dual). The 60tpi tires have the single rubber compound and you have the option of black or tan sidewalls. The 120tpi tires are just like Henry Ford intended (black only). Both have a puncture protection strip running under the tread, but the 120tpi tires have puncture protection running from bead to bead.

Strada LGG 28 Skinwall

 

So lets say you have a bit more gravel in your regular ride diet, but there’s still a fair amount of pavement you do daily. You take the bike down the occasional trail, but nothing too crazy. You need a tire that does it all pretty well and transitions from one surface to another without making too many sacrifices along the way. When you do venture off the pavement, the rocks and gravel is starting to get a bit looser and rougher too. Check out the USH.
USH May 12 004

At a 35c, it’s going to be too big for your road bike, but that’s fine because you won’t be taking this tire places you’d really want to take your road bike anyway. See that center section? It’s raised, smooth and has an inverted tread design. That means it rolls smooth and fast  and offers more puncture protection.  The side knobs are designed to let you lean the bike over on pavement without a big side lug that will squirm and wiggle. It really initiates high speed road corners much like a road bike tire. As you go outward on the tread, the side knobs get larger and more open to help grab in the loose stuff. This is the tire that both the Cyclocross World and Raleigh teams put on their bikes for training, and commuting back and forth to the race venues. 7 out of the top 10 finishers in the Dirty Kanza gravel race were on this tire.

Lets say the gravel you like to seek out is a bit looser, a bit bigger, a bit steeper, has more singletrack peppered throughout, and while there’s less overall pavement, you still need something that doesn’t buzz down the road like a tractor tire and lets you keep up with the roadies you encounter. Meet the MSO

Clement MSO

 

The biggest difference is that the casing size bumps up to a 40c. This is the tire you use when the gravel is going to be the predominant surface and is rougher and looser. It’s tread blocks more open to help the tire grab in loose and uneven terrain. The side lugs are now looking pretty beefy to help grab traction when leaned over on the trails and rough stuff. The center section is still very smooth rolling and fast, but it’s still more open to help it grab traction when climbing and descending steeper and looser grades. This tire is almost a mountain bike tire, just downsized and civilized a bit to be more versatile and longer wearing.

Not all bikes will fit a full 40c tire though. If that’s the case Clement makes the MSO in a 32c size as well. It’s not going to have the flotation in the really chunky stuff, but it rides very simirly to it’s big brother. If you are the whipper racer type looking for a lighter version of the 40c MSO, the 32c is your ticket.

Here’s a pic of all three tires side by side. 35c USH, 32c MSO, and 40c MSO. All three tires come in 60tpi with a single rubber compound or 120tpi with a dual compound.

Clement USH35 MSO32 MSO 40

 

Another side note. People often ask why buy a gravel specific tire like one of the X’Plor series form Clement when I could just use a cyclocross file tread? File treads work pretty well actually. They roll fast, have decent volume, and even side lugs to help up when the gravel get loose. They have a couple of downsides though. One is that because they are designed to roll fast on hard pack  and grass cross courses while still cornering decently, they often have a more square profile. That works great when leaned over in a grassy corner, but not so well when turning on pavement. Those chunky side lugs start buzzing a squirming pretty quick. The other issue they have and it’s actually the worse of the two is that they wear quickly. There isn’t much rubber on top of what is essentially a bald tire to begin with. Not only do you have to replace tires more frequently, but you risk of flatting and cutting the casing get pretty high pretty quick. Check out this picture of a Clement LAS semi-slick on Ben Berden’s bike after only 400 miles.

LAS Worn out

Feel free to swing by and pick my brain abut gravel tires. And while Service Course Velo stocks, sells , and rides Clement tires, there are other brands and models out there so please don’t hesitate to ask about them.

Cheers.

Classics Season

Coming up in April, there’s going to be a couple of Service Course Velo sponsored rides happening. Looming on the immediate horizon is the GP Rogue Flahute on April 5th. Timed to coincide with the Belgian classic, the Ronde Vlaanderen or Tour of Flanders, the Flahute will cover 112 miles of the Rogue Valley’s most Belgian terrain there is. Instead of the cobbled bergs and pave of Flanders, Flahute riders will deal with vicious chip seal, broken pavement, and as we like to call it, grah-vel. For those of you concerned with completing a 112 mile ride in early April, or any time for that matter, fear not. There are plenty of early out options and shortcuts to choose from. The dirty secret is that almost all the riders choose to do a shorter route and only the truly hard of head usually finish the whole shebang.  This year there is even an official shorter route called the Flahute Petit. There will be chili and treats back at Service Course Velo HQ for when you return and odds are good there might be an adult libation or two on hand to ease the telling of lies and war stories from the day’s ride. Ride leaves Service Course Velo at 9:00am sharp and riders should be able to deal with whatever mechanicals they might encounter. If you are thinking you are in it to win it, remember to pack enough food and water to haul your buns around for a full century. Otherwise, there are a few convenience stores that you can stock up on all the foods you’re not allowed to usually eat. I’m personally a big fan of the fruit pies and turkey jerky.  Here’s the links to the Rogue Flahute and Flahute Petit Route.  You can download this to your GPS if you have one. If you are electronically challenged via route finding and prefer a more analog method, a cue sheet  and map will be printed up that will give turn by turn instructions.

As always, if there are any questions please feel free to swing by the shop, call or send and email and I’ll do my best to get you sorted out. Also, you can check Facebook to see any updates there are about the ride.

After we’ve recovered from the Flahute, there’s another ride coming up in case you didn’t get enough grah-vel in your cycling adventures. On May 4th, there will be a continuation of a Service Course Velo tradition called a Honey Badger ride. Why is it called a Honey Badger ride? It’s because the routes are usually of mixed terrain that doesn’t favor one type of bike over another. Trying to make the choice between a mountain bike and a cross bike? Or a cross bike and road bike? Either option usually will leave you happy you chose one over the other at some point and then wishing you had went with the other later in the ride. Most importantly, whatever bike you decide, Honey Badger doesn’t care! In case there are three to four of you left that haven’t been beat to death with the Honey Badger meme and it’s origins and are a bit confused, watch this and you’ll get the silly little joke.

This Honey Badger ride will be taking place in the warm and sunny confines of the Yreka, California area. The route is 58 miles long and is about a 50/50 mix of gravel and what could be charitably defined as “paved roads”.  If you are feeling your inner Fabian Cancellara, then a road bike will probably get you around the route, but most will probably choose the cross bike option. Either way, once again, Honey Badger doesn’t care! I would even imagine there will be a few folks who will attempt the route on a mountain bike or even worse, a single speed of some type. Just remember, it’s always your choice to bring a knife to a gunfight and if your’e gonna be dumb, ya gotta be tough.

The ride leaves Upper Greenhorn Park in Yreka, California at 9:00am sharp and will make a big loop out into the Jefferson State hinterlands towards Ft. Jones before returning back to the park. As always, there is no sag wagon, so bring what you need to fix your bikes, feed your face, bivy out of doors, or kill and eat your ride companions. There is the option for a short 2-3 mile detour mid-ride to roll into Ft. Jones to obtain provisions if you need to. This year we’ll be doing the route in reverse to spice things up a bit. Check back for links to the route, map, and more descriptions.

New Shop Hours

Almost like a real business, Service Course Velo will be again open on Saturdays. From now on the shop will be open Tuesday through Friday from 11am to 6pm and on Saturdays from noon until 5pm. Closed on Sundays and open by special appointment on Mondays. Please feel free to call or email if there are any questions. Cheers.

Step Off Sucka!!

Cross season is just starting to heat up, which means there are clinics, workshops, camps, and training races happening all over the US right now. People are posting on Facebook about it, the race schedule for August and September is filled with them, and Twitter is popping off with what is always the most hotly contested question every year when people are learning how to get off a cyclocross bike. “Should I be doing a step through dismount or should I do a step behind dismount?”

Quick visual reminder for those that want a little heads up. Here’s a few pictures and a quick video of each to refresh the memory banks.

Video

Here’s a step through dismount

 

 

Step Through Dismount

 

He’s executing perfect form. Body close to the bike, weight driving through his hand on the top tube, and he’s facing the barriers, ready to take a full stride at speed over them as soon as hit right foot hits the ground. Perfect high speed barrier dismount.

It used to be the step through was the preferred method of dismount. It keeps you facing forward towards the barriers as you dismount and allows a full stride as soon as your right foot hits the ground, meaning you could carry a bit more speed (in theory). This dismount was developed way back when people used to race cross in toe clips and straps. To do a dismount in clips and straps, before you ever swung your right leg over the rear wheel, you first unclipped your left foot, flipped the pedal over, and stood on the other side. Then and only then you continued on with the rest of the process of the step through dismount. Also, because you were wearing something closer to a soccer cleat, it was easier to step forward with your left foot than it was to slide off the outside of the pedal. That extra step of unclipping and flipping a pedal took more time to do, so cross courses reflected that in their design and execution, meaning there were going to be more high speed barriers that allowed you a longer amount of time to set up properly and safely. 

And then, clipless pedals were invented. Of course, people kept on dismounting and stepping through the same way they always had. They also kept on unclipping with the left foot first before they swung their right leg over. Instead of flipping their pedal over though, they just rested on the instep of their foot. Someone realized though, that since you don’t have to flip a pedal over, you might not even to unclip with your left foot at all until the end of the dismount and that would save even more time. The problem is that clipless pedals don’t always release like you’d want them to and when you’re body weight is driving forward, in front of your bike, and your left foot is still clipped in, it’s exactly like getting tripped while sprinting.  Bad things can happen. Don’t believe me? Ask Joey, he’s probably the most famous and most recent example.

So you can see what bad things can happen if the step through dismount done at speed goes pear shaped. The risk versus reward isn’t a very good ratio. Also, there just aren’t that many truly high speed barriers anymore. Most of your dismounting, especially at the beginner and intermediate levels is really all that fast, even on what would be considered a high speed barrier.  Factor in the changes in most course design to have more slow speed type barriers and you’re going to want to learn the step behind.

Here’s a step behind dismount.

Step Behind Dismount

 

Sorry for the small picture, but you get the idea. Notice how his right foot is going to drop off and touch the ground behind his left foot. And this is a picture of Jeremy Powers, former national champion, so of course his form is excellent. It’s very similar to the step through body position. Close to the bike and weight going down through his right arm onto the top tube.

Here’s another picture

Step Behind Dismount Back View

The step behind is safer and is actually quicker, because the amount of time you need to set up for it is much less than the step through. This is especially good if you are coming into a barrier at a very slow speed, like in the middle of a hill or right after a tight corner. Here J-Pow tells his students on why the step though is bad.

Notice he mentioned Joey. That guy got all sorts of famous for all the wrong reasons. You don’t want to be the next Joey. Just to be sure of how it’s no longer used, here’s a video of last year’s cyclocross world championships and I’d bet you don’t find one step through in the whole shebang. It’s kinda long, so if you don’t want to watch it, you can take my word for it.

In conclusion, I’m not going to tell you outright that you shouldn’t do the step through, but realize that 1. It’s an advanced technique and you should have a very good handle on how to do the step behind dismount first and 2. It’s has a very specific time and place where it’s useful and faster, but the risk of buggering it up and becoming a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons is very high.

 

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