Why on Earth would anyone
race Cyclocross on a fixed gear?


An interview with Michigan's Mike Clark.

by Dennis Bean-Larson


Race photos by Brenda Brewer.

For Mike Clark it was because he'd lent out his cross bike to a girl who needed a bike to ride and there was a CX race coming on the weekend. Mike has lots of bikes - he owns Velo City Bikes in Holland, Michigan. In addition to Cervelo, Cannondale, Seven, and Gunnar, he sells his own, Waterford built Macatawa Bike Works fixed gear frame. Mike is also involved with the Diabetes Foundation and when a young woman from that group needed a bike to ride for the summer he simply volunteered one of his, his cyclocross bike.

When the Fall of 2009 rolled around his bike and the borrower was out in Utah and the bike wouldn't be back in time for the season's first CX race, Mike simply swapped some knobby tires on one of his own brand Macatawas, bolted a brake up front and went at it.

To his surprise he found that it was not the suicide ride that he's half expected .... and like all cyclocross racing ---- it was a heck of a lot of fun. After interviewing Mike, I suspect that Mike was also going to enjoy the shocked look on his competitors faces when they saw his pedals turning ... all the time.

Mike: "I found that I wasn't giving up all that much .... though dismounts were a lot more difficult."

Mike has a Seven conversion that he rides in the summer, and you can tell he's serious about this fixed gear stuff: "I probably rode the Seven 4,500 miles this year, I ride my fixed town bike alot, really the only time I ride geared is for road racing."

At 54, Mike has been racing for quite a few years, he's a regular at Gratton Raceway on Wednesday evenings. That series has been spinning along for a very long time by Skip and Diane Obermeyer and its on a 2 mile 14-turn sports car track. There's only the "A's" and the "B's" at Gratton as Mike admits "I'm really about an A- at Gratton, I can be up in the front of the B's but I can get shelled out the back of the "A" group." Clearly, hanging with the likes of Mark Heckman and Kirk O'Bee ain't too shabby.

Se here's the bike Mike rides, standard Waterford-built Macatawa that's designed around a bit more clearance than your track bike, but essentially a regular road fix frame out fiited with a cross fork and drop bars. After his first year of cyclocross racing in 2009, Mike decided his bike needed to drop a few pounds, so the unicrown cross fork and the Velocity Deep V wheelset gave way to Ritchey carbon fiber and a wider A23 wheelset from VelocityUSA. "After years of riding fixed on the road, riding fixed cross was surprisingly easy .... all except for the side-hill traverses that is."

So, if you've seen some cross races around your town, but you're a die-hard fixie guy, you can take some inspiration from Mike Clark who would encourage you to simply let 'er rip.

Mike can be reached at
mike@velo-citycycles.com


links here ............... Velo-City Cycles
KissCross Cyclocross Series