As anyone who works in a shop in these parts knows, cross is the new crush, and it hits earlier and earlier every year. Tubular wheels are already being dropped off for fresh glue and tires. Folks are ordering new bikes in June instead of August. And organized weekday practices are dotting the lakefront. One of the telling indicators for me is the point at which Atac cleats start outselling iClics, and that happened two weeks ago, earlier than ever before.
All that said, the midsummer’s cross mania won’t have everyone on the bandwagon. There are those committed to road. There are the procrastinators. And there are novices who won’t realize until September that this muddy bike thing is something worth pursuing. But we all know what’s coming. Some time around mid-August, the handful of local shops that specialize in cyclocross will hit capacity. Service queues will balloon. Tires and glue and Belgian tape and cleats will start selling out. Panicked racers will pay massive overnight shipping fees to get last minute equipment needs fulfilled before the weekend.
Last year, I promised myself that I’d be ready this time around. So in the last month, I started preemptively loading up on latex tubes, Yokozuna cablesets, cleats, toe spikes, disc hubs, Major Toms, and plenty of Challenge Chicanes (in both tubular and *gasp* clincher varieties). And after nearly a year of testing and pondering and hating on the whole trend towards $40 handlebar tape, I’ve settled on a $40 handlebar tape that just might be worth $40, at least in the cyclocross context.
Unlike the spendy trendy tapes that came before it (Lizard Skins, the current kind of the cross wraps and Supacaz, the upstart) - ESI tape only comes in a few colors. It’s made in the USA. It is massively stretchy and therefore doesn’t have backing tape and therefore is completely rewrappable. It’s pretty easy to clean. It is without question the grippiest compound when muddy/wet currently on the market. It has the best damping qualities on the market. And best of all: it is constructed of a one piece blown out silicone instead of a dual-layer laminate-over-foam core, which tends to tear very easily. I’ve loved LS and Supacaz over the past few years, but haven’t loved the stuff’s tendency to shred after one little fall in cross practice.
So here it is, this year’s Tativille Preseason Cross Service Pass!
TAPE: ESI RCT
FRAME WAX: ZYMOL
PRESEASON LABOR: Full Tune Up including tape and cable replacement
IN SEASON LABOR: Full Tune Up including tape wash/reversal/rewrap and cable replacement
PRESEASON PRICE: $100
Bring in your cross bike before August 1st (even if it hasn’t been touched since last winter) and it will get a complete tear down, cleaning, and tune up. All cables will be replaced with YOKOZUNA, the best on the market. Your frame will be cleaned and waxed with Zymol Creme, a super premium product typically used on luxury/show automobiles. It will make your bike sparkle and (more importantly) resistant to mud, and easier to keep clean. Your drivetrain will be lubed with NFS, a game-changing and highly hydrophobic chemical compound that last thousands rather than hundreds, of kilometers. (And used by none other than Richard Sachs!) Your bars will be rewrapped with ESI tape, providing superior grip and damping. (And it looks so rad).
That’s a pretty good value for $100, but it doesn’t stop there. Because hopefully, after getting your bike back in such unbelievably fantastic condition, you won’t stop, either. You won’t stop training or racing or generally shredding, and by the middle of the season, your bike might be in need of a bit of TLC. Or maybe a spot of weather showed up one weekend and you actually got to race in the mud and now your bike is kind of in a state. And you are thinking about traveling to a big UCI race soon, and you’d really like the bike to be in tip-top shape. And so you should bring it back in, because your Preseason Service Pass includes a SECOND IN SEASON TUNE UP. It’s OK if you’ve destroyed everything, or crashed, or mangled your wheels. It’s OK if you need it turned around quickly in time for the weekend. Just bring it back in.
Book yours now, because not only will prices only go up from here, but you won’t remember to take care of it before it’s too late!
Also: The USAC Amateur National Road Championships are happening in Madison, Wisconsin this weekend. Hope to see many of you there!