If you’ve ever been to a cyclocross race, you’ve been impressed by the grit of the competitors. You’d be even more impressed if you knew that many of the riders, like local cyclocross racer Shawn Letson, race in the Master’s class for those 40 and older. You might even be surprised that a Master’s class exists for a race this intense. But for some, like Letson, a competitive mountain biker turned Master’s class cyclocross racer, the fast-paced race presents a new challenge.
Facing the end of mountain biking season, but not ready to store his bike for the winter, Letson decided to give in to peer pressure and join a few friends who had taken up cyclocross. “I like the challenge of the course, and the timing of the season. It’s a great time to be riding your bike,” Letson says. Plus, he says, “the atmosphere is excellent and it’s very spectator friendly.”
Recently, Letson took 18th at the StarCrossed Cyclocross event in Seattle, and 4th the next day at Rad Racing Grand Prix race in Tacoma. He plans to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix in Portland, racing at the biggest cyclocross level in the States.
“A lot of my gear switched over-it’s a really easy transition for anyone who wants to try something new.” As he committed more to the cyclocross genre, though, he updated his gear to reflect the shift. Here’s a rundown of the gear that keeps Letson in the race:
Bike: “I have an A bike and a B bike,” Letson says. “What’s nice about cross racing is you can have more than one bike in the race, because the weather will wreak havoc on your bike later in the season.” Both bikes are Redline Conquest Team Scandium aluminum frames. “They’re as identical as they can be.” Letson’s seat posts, stems and handlebars are from the Ritchie WCS series, as are the forks for each bike. However, the bikes do feature several different parts.
The A bike has Duralast components, carbon fiber Spooky-brakes, and Ksyrium SL tubular wheels with Tufo tires. The FSA Energy Crank system has a single chain ring setup-Letson has no ability to shift gears, but the chain is more secure against the unavoidable jostling of a cyclocross race.
The B bike has Shimano Ultegra components, TRP brakes, and Ritchie Protocol wheels with Hutchinson Bulldog tires.
Seat: Both bikes have Wilderness Trail Bikes Shadow V seats.
Shoes: Sidi. “They’re a really good quality shoe.”
Racing attire: “A skin suit by Voler,” provided by his team, Wenatchee Area Racers. As a mountain biker convert, Letson said he had a hard time adjusting to the spandex-dominated cyclocross race wear, but he has come to embrace it as a part of his sport.
Sunglasses: Oakley’s Flak Jacket model. Often, cyclocross races are at night, so interchangeable lenses are key.
Accessories: “My iPod is a definite for the warm up,” Letson says. A mix of punk and heavy metal gets him pumped up for the race.
You can catch Letson and some cyclocross action this fall through early December in the Inland Northwest Cyclocross series.