NZ Cyclocross National Champion Brendon Sharratt gives us his predictions for the 2017 NZ Cyclocross National Championships – Challenge Tires
We are 3 days away from the NZ Cyclocross Champs which are being held down in Blenhiem. Most of you are possibly getting quite nervous and wondering what tires you should be using and what the conditions you’ll be expecting on race day.
The race organiser, Mondo, has had a number of years to think of a course design, what will challenge the riders and what he can add in the course to make it the best Nationals course to date. Dunedin in 2015 and Huttcross in 2016 both had the perfect conditions for cyclocross which tested everything in the rider and tires were hugely important. Tires in cyclocross can impact your performance, either making it terrible or incredible.
Here are my predictions for this year’s Nationals and what will be expecting and I will give you a few tips on what Challenge Tires will work best for you on race day.
Course. Mainly on grass with varied terrain, steep climbs, technical descents with tight corners and slippery off cambers. The climbs may be rideable depending on the entry or the riders power level. Long bog sections with the potential to have a few long gravel sections.
Weather. I have been keeping a track on recent races down there and if you go back to the cx race they had at the Nationals venue you will see how muddy it can get there. So expect the worst. If the sun shines we all know course can still be sloppy and full of filth and this can change what’s rideable or do you opt for the running method? From what I know no matter what the weather conditions be prepared for slipping and sliding.
Tires. Out of the Challenge Tires cylocross range I will recommend the Limus, Baby Limus and Grifo for the Nationals course and potential conditions we’ll be seeing. The Limus is without a doubt the best deep, thick mud tire you will ride. The tread offers big tread knobs which have plenty of room to clear the mud, they will bite down through the layers of mud to find a workable surface to gain traction. If we see a bucket load of rain fulling on race day and you want to have complete confidence on the course get amongst the Limus.
Baby Limus. This one is proving to be the ultimate alrounder with exceptional side grip for traction in thick mud and also for these nasty off cambers. The centre tread is quite small which helps with speed and mud clearing, when you run this tire at low pressures you’ll get the benefits of the big side tread which will also start eating mud sandwiches. I still recommend the Baby Limus if the rains pours and if the ground is still damp as well as if the ground is drying because you’ll have some primo grip for those fast grass descents, the big aggressive side tread will be thinking xmas has come early when you start laying them into grass corners. My conclusion on the Baby Limus. If you are a slightly more confident rider who wants speed, climbing traction, cornering grip and something that is the master of all put these on your bike.
Grifo. The Grifo, I love it. There’s a reason why we’ve seen this tread pattern in cx for decades. Its super fast, has brilliant grip and will get the job done. With having slightly smaller treadd than the Limus and Baby Limus it does struggle in the real deep sloppy mud, BUT, I have used this tire in conditions where the mud is like soup and I have been amazed. By running the tread in reverse on the rear it gives you much better traction on the climbs. The small round outside tread does a great job on the corners and offcambers. If you run the Grifo at really low pressures you will be amazed with it’s performance. If the conditions are drying up but still a bit sticky or a touch drizzly the Grifo will attack it all with pleasure.
Pressures. This will vary depending on your weight and if you are using Tubular or Clincher and if theres big stones/roots etc. When I go to a race I look at the main features whether its off cambers, steep climbs or big long sections which you may want to carry more speed. This will determine your pressures, do you focus your pressures towards the harder/technical sections with a low psi or do aim to gain time on the fast flat sections with a high psi? Some riders don’t feel confident running low pressures to eliminate punctures, this is something you want to experiment with prior to your big race day. To give you an idea, I am approx. 68kg. 25psi is safe on clincher tires and as low as 20psi on tubular. I have read that in Belgium a lot of the pros run as low as 15-16psi but they have a container of tubulars lined up for replacement!
Hope this a help to you. See you all in Blenhiem.