New Team Attaquer already have a lot of races in the books as Australian Cyclocross season starts early in the year. Tom Chapman and Chris Aitken, calling themselves - you know why - the Beard and the Glasses, are now touring through the US. We had the chance to get some insights on the US racing scene, personal bike setup and the differences to Australia?
Why did you decide racing CX in the US?
It all started a year ago when a few teammates and I came over to the US to race the Cross Vegas World Cup. From there we decided that I was a great stepping stone to get a lot of higher level racing under our belt before we traveled all the way to Europe. It was also a lot easier for us to organize as English is spoken in the US rather than the many languages spoken in Europe.
What's the difference between racing in Australia and in the US?
The main difference is definitely the level of competitors. The top 30 guys are all fasthere and you will be pushed to the finish line. Also there is a lot more spectators and withthat brings the atmosphere. Cross is only about 5 years old in Australia. So obviously it hasn’tdeveloped into what it is in the US, but we do take a lot of influence from the races over hereand the courses are very similar back home as far as conditions and layout.
The United States are a huge country. How do you get to the races?
It is like Australia in size and we have long road trips. But we are very fortunate to have the support of Scott Dedenbach and the ‘Women CX Project’ who have made traveling a breeze. Much Thanks tothem as we wouldn’t be here without them! For the entire trip we are based out of Michiganwhich means that the longest travel day is 12 hours in the van. Most weekends are about a 15hour round trip so we try to catch up on some sleep or just talk general banter to pass thetime.
What was the funniest moment you had until now during your US adventure?
Well, we arrived back from the Jingle Cross World Cup on a Monday afternoon at Scottshouse, and he lives on some property with woods surrounding the house. Jeff (the mechanic)went to leave and the car wouldn’t start so he checked under the hood and there was aWoodchuck nestled up in the engine bay not wanting to come out. During the weekend itmust have crawled up into there and hewed at a few wires. (Sorry Jeff, it was funny when youfirst found it)
Your CX season in Australia is earlier than the "normal" CX season in the northernhemisphere. What's the challenge of this kind of long CX season?
Yes, so we race really early in the season compared to everyone else in the world so we haveto be smart with how we train and when we have our rest time. If you race the whole waythrough all the seasons you can end up worn out with injuries. This is why we are having thisweekend off to try and do a bit of rest and recovery before finishing off the last threeweekends of racing.
Let's talk bikes! You're both riding MARES. What is your favorite setup?
Chris – We are currently on the Mares CX Force 1 as our team issue bike in Australia. Irun a slightly shorter setup compared to people my size as Im on a Medium frame andrunning a 75mm stem. I do get a lot of comments as to how short my stem is but its where Ifeel I have the best center of gravity for my body shape, especially when hopping barriers orriding down steep drops. As for my gear ratios I mostly run a 42T on the front pared up with11-32T on the rear,That seems to suit most of the courses now days.
Tom – I’m riding a 56cm frame with a 90mm stem. Which is fairly normal for my height of183cm. My favorite tire is the Baby Limus and I don’t go super low with my pressures. For drycourses I run around 28psi and the lowest I have had is 22psi in slick mud. As for the gearsI’m running the same as Chris anything smaller than that and you should start running up it.
How long will you stay in the US and what are the upcoming races that you will participate at?
We are in the US for a total of 9 weeks with only 4 weeks remaining. The weekend is our only weekend off. It was planned before we even arrived here as rest weekend, because with the large volume of racing we thought that we would need a rest by now and we sure do. Our next races are
North Coast GP of CX in Cleveland, Ohio on the 22nd – 23rd of October UCI C2
Kings CX in Mason, Ohio on the 30th of October UCI C1
Derby City Cup in Louisille, Kentucky on 5th – 6th of November UCI C1/ C2