Gruffudd Lewis joined Ribble Pro Cycling at the start of the 2018 season. He has helped them to retain their position as the UK’s number 1 ranked team throughout 2018 and 2019. Gruff is the current Welsh National Road Race Champion. Back in 2017, he was also crowned the Welsh National Cyclocross Champion. We asked Gruff to write a little about his CX story. What made him take up cyclo-cross and what advantages he feels it offers him when competing for Ribble Pro Cycling.
In 2013 I started looking into how I could improve my performance in “Classic” style road races. Races which naturally include many off-road sectors, requiring a very different level of bike handling! Cyclocross (CX) always had that kind of appeal too, the grittiness and the mud looked like a fun way to keep fit during the off-season. Albeit bar the amount of bike washing it involves!!
Come 2016, it seemed to have paid off as my CX training definitely had its part to play in me placing 2nd at the 2016 edition of the UK’s biggest classic-style UCI race, the “CiCLE CLASSIC” held at Rutland.
To handle the different sectors of the race you need to be confident in hitting them at full gas and what better way I thought, to develop these skills than racing CX. You need to be at one with your bike, able to slide both front and rear wheel, whilst keeping the bike upright. For obvious reasons you don’t want to get this wrong on tarmac, so hitting the mud and fields is somewhere far more practical and safe to do so.
Riding for Ribble Pro Cycling, I’d loved the road bikes we’d used for racing – the Aero 883 and now the Endurance SL R. So, ahead of my 2018 CX season I worked with Ribble to design my Custom Colour CX bike to match my Welsh Champ Jersey.
If you’re looking to add something different to your cycling, I’d recommend a CX bike. You don’t just have to race, whilst yes I do, but I also use my Ribble for just those rides where I want to explore a bit more and hit the fire roads. A quick change of wheels or tyres and I’m back on tarmac. Everyone always asks if I had to have just one bike what would it be? A CX bike without a doubt, I love the road but it’s the versatility a CX bike offers that I couldn’t be without!
Gruff’s CustomColour national champions bike is the Ribble Carbon CX5, this bike has now been superseded by the CX SL carbon for 2019 / 2020. Both are cross specific framesets, which means that they have;
- Large tyre clearance for tyres up to 40mm, though UCI regulations dictate that only 33mm can be used in competition.
- A geometry optimised for quick handling and agile steering through technical corners and avoidance of obstacles.
- A slightly raised BB to provide more clearance for the pedal arms over broken surfaces.
However, as Gruff rightly points out they are very versatile too. Fit narrow tarmac specific race tyres to the bike and when combined with the aggressive race geometry you have a fast road bike too.
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