Back in the summer, I test rode the Verenti Substance CX (review link). For a month, I switched out my usual commuting steed, a 1997 steel touring bike, for this knobbly tyre machine. It was a whole load of fun!
No longer was I confined to the lanes and cycle tracks on my commute. Before long, I had added dozens of new routes home; linking up bridleways, farm tracks and unmade roads. At every opportunity, I was jumping off curbs, tearing down tracks and thoroughly enjoying kicking up some dust and dirt.
The Verenti went back, all too soon; but it left me yearning for a bit more excitement on my daily rides to and from work. I tried riding my mountain bike in for a week or two, but as a fair portion of the ride is unavoidably on tarmac (the Portsmouth part), it made things rather hard going. It clicked, I realised quite why cyclocross bikes are so much fun. A cross bike lets you link up the best trails and tracks in an area, without having to slog it down roads on fat knobbly tyres to get between 'sectors'.
I also quickly realised that a CX bike was in fact a lot more comfortable for commuting. Although the Verenti CX was a little weighty, it was bombproof. I was blasting down broken roads and bouncing out of potholes, without the fear of punctures and pinch-flats. The disc brakes were a revelation as well. Having previously only really ridden disc on mountain bikes, I hadn't realised quite how much better they were for wet roads; coupled with the semi slick tyres, they provided a lot more confidence on leaf strewn corners and poor road surfaces.
Although I might still need a bit of convincing before I sign up to a cyclocross race, I can now see that cyclocross bikes are incredibly versatile, and a lot of fun. For me, they probably make the ultimate commuting steed.
I now "get" 'cross. My search for a CX bike has begun...
|My month of commuting on the Verenti opened up some great new routes home.|
|No traffic commuting.|
|The steel tourer, my usual commuting steed, was laid up to rest for a month. Replaced by the Verenti Substance.|
|Knobbly tyres, mud clearance and disc brakes. Confidence.|
|Maybe not the prettiest or lightest bike, but a bombproof commuting steed.|