It’s our weekly check in with the Alpha Bicycle Co–Groove Subaru Cyclocross Team that is hot off the Pan American Cyclcross Championships in Midland, Ontario Canada. The team had a great weekend and brought home a Bronze in the U23 Women’s with Katie Clouse (age 17) really finding her stride. In the men’s U23 race Gage Hecht repeated his 2017 performance with another gold medal in 2018!
The team takes a small break this week before building up again for US Nationals in mid-December. So while they take a break, let’s dive into the bikes and set ups they are racing. I think you will find that the team operates at a very high level, every detail noted and checked. This is what makes a team PRO. If you have the chance to attend one of the race weekends they are at, please go by and check out the set up. From the truck & trailer to the tent and to the bikes……….all the riders are on the Psychlo X RSL frame and Moots carbon fork as a base.
All Photos: Bo Bickerstaff
Riders are free to choose between 1x or 2x based on their personal preferences. It just so happens that the women on the team both choose the 1x option, while the men choose 2x. The 2x setup is a stock Shimano 46/36 Ultegra Crankset, while the 1x spec is supplied by Wolf Tooth Components by way of their DropStop chainring with a bit of extra security from their GnarWolf chainguide to prevent “lifting” in extremely muddy conditions. Katie and Turner choose between 38 and 40 tooth rings depending on the course.
The team rolls on Chris King bearings throughout the bikes. Not only keeping with the theme of serviceability and durability but working with King gives each rider a level of aesthetic personalization. Gage’s “A” bike seen here, sports a customized colorway commemorating his Pan American Championship. After another dominating performance this past weekend in Canada, he has earned himself the right to fly the colors for yet another year.
A concerted effort is made to “find all the one percent’s” while not sacrificing durability. Stock water bottle bolts are swapped out with color matched alloy bolts adopted from Wolf Tooth’s C.A.M.O. system.
The entire team runs Shimano clutch rear derailleurs with the clutch tension turned up a bit to ward against untimely chain drops. Of course, the Party Switch is always ON! Any bit of chain slap is protected by helicopter tape that is precisely cut to fit the chainstay.
Gage Hecht requested the Junction A box be removed from the standard stem position to allow the ability to grab the stem and while maneuvering 180-degree dismounts. A skill frequently called upon in European racing.
Tire pressures in the team’s Donnelly Tubulars are precisely dialed to less than .5 PSI using a Craftsman Inflator retrofitted with a Silca Hiro head. All the team’s inflators are calibrated to a precision digital gauge, double checked and documented for future reference.
Team Director and Mechanic Adam Rachubinski spent substantial time in the off season researching and experimenting with bearing lube viscosity, fill rates and drag. Chris King bottom brackets and hubs are run with an extremely light lube sourced from the longboard racing industry in fast, dry conditions and a thicker precision bearing grease from SKF when conditions get more demanding.
Racers and mechanics pow-wow each race about cassette choices depending on course profile and conditions. Depending on elevation profile and course conditions, riders can choose between Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 11-30, Ultegra R8000 11-32, and HG-800 11-34 cassettes. The rider’s choice not only affects low gears, but how large the jumps are between gears and over all weight savings in excess of a quarter pound.
Running Shimano Di2 gives the team the ability to customize the shifting functionality of each bike. While the 1x bikes duplicate the rear shifting in case of mid race damage, the 2x setups offer “fighter pilot” style rear derailleur control that is especially useful in mid race straight way digs.
Supacaz Supa Sticky Kush bar tape provides excellent hand grip and shock absorption in all conditions.
Some may describe the teams tubular gluing technique as excessive. But it works and there are no plans to deviate from it. After pre-stretching both tire and rim receive a base coat which cures for a minimum of 24 hours. After which the tire gets re-stretched to aid in a clean mounting. The rim receives 2 wet coats followed by a layer of CX Tape. Then, alternating glue layers are applied in succession with 3 applications on the rim and 2 on the tire. Then cure above 70 degrees for at least 4 days. The result is bond that in many cases results in the tire having to be cut off the rim. Now imagine doing that task 80-100 times per season.
Our Emerald Mountain Green anodized finish was originally created as a team only finish for the Alpha Bicycle Company – Groove Subaru CX Team as an option that would stand up to literally hundreds of power washings per season and compliment the team’s signature green kits and race day setup.
Take a look at the Psychlo X RSL and build up your own version: