by John Flack
In only her 10th cyclocross race of all time, University of Georgia grad student and former competitive swimmer Emily Cameron conquered the cold rain and slick mud of Lakewood, Washington, to win the Collegiate Club Women’s National Championship.
Equally impressive, this was only the second-ever race on her winning Giant TCX.
During Cameron’s introduction to cyclocross, she raced on a borrowed bike. Then, just three weeks before December’s cyclocross nationals in Lakewood, she took the plunge and bought one of her own. And, like many cyclocross newbs, Emily went with pre-owned for her first bike purchase.
Luckily, Cameron valued the importance of a good bike fit and invested in one prior to Nats. Aside from now being her favorite bike, it has her cyclocross national championship memories tied to it too.
We took a closer look at her winning Giant TCX Advanced following her win in Lakewood.
Emily Cameron’s Collegiate Club Women’s Championship-Winning Giant TCX Advanced
The world’s largest manufacturer of bicycles, Giant can claim many "firsts." Among them is the distinction of being the first bike maker to win a World Cup on disc brakes, when Lars van der Haar piloted his then-unnamed carbon-fiber cyclocross bike to victory in the 2013 opening round at Valkenburg.
Since then, Giant’s "CX" version of the TCR (Tee-"CX" ... get it?) has continued to evolve. Cameron rode a 2015 model year TCX Advanced Pro that featured a carbon frame and fork, dropped rear triangle and a top tube that flattens out away from the head tube for more comfortable shouldering.
As with the TCXs ridden this season by Maddie Munro and Michael van den Ham, front and rear thru-axles are now the norm. However, Camerons’s 2015 Giant TCX still features a quick release for the rear wheel.
Cameron's saddle is an Aliante model from Fizik, paired with a frame-specific Giant D-Fuse composite post. TCX fames have a rubber boot at the seatpost clamp to keep out mud, water and other contaminants. Interestingly, Cameron’s was inexplicably pushed all the way up to the top of the post. When asked why, she said it doesn’t indicate anything special, .she probably just forgot to put it back down.
Cameron’s drivetrain is a mix of SRAM’s Force 1 and Red components. The Force 1 crank is 172.5mm, with a single 42t X-Sync chain ring.
Heel rub is an inevitability in cyclocross’s adverse conditions, and many ’cross frames bear it on their chainstays. As this was only Emily’s second race on this bike, these marks were likely evidence of its previous owner.
The cartridge bearing hubs in Giant’s CXR-1 wheels use a 6-bolt design for mounting the rotors. The 12mm thru-axle looks to have a cam-style actuation at the lever.
SRAM’s Force-level PG-1170 cassette is popular in cross racing due in part to its more open, clog-resistant design. However—even without a pit bike—Cameron had no such troubles with her Red XG-1190 in Lakewood.
Panaracer designates its Regacross tire as a tubeless tire, but Cameron ran hers with inner tubes with butyl inner tubes in the less-than-tractor-pull conditions at Cyclocross Nationals in Steilacoom. Cameron admitted she is still learning about the oh-so-important topic of tire pressure.
She uses what she calls the "Fruit Method," whereby the tire should feel "like an orange or a grapefruit" when squished down with your thumb. She ran ~27psi front and rear at Nats.
In cyclocross, there are intermediate treads other than the familiar chevron pattern made popular by the Challenge Grifo and other tires. Panaracer's Regacross is one such example.
The Regacross tread also doubles as Panaracer's GravelKing AC mud tread.
Cameron shifted with a SRAM Red double-tap shift-brake lever on the right and a Force 1 lever with no shift paddle on the left.
Showing the bike's age, calipers in the front and rear are post mount SRAM Red and not the flat mount ones we see on bikes today.
Cameron and her bike fitter put 15mm of spacers between the stem and lo-pro integrated HS cap from FSA. The 5mm spacer on top ensures full engagement of the carbon steerer with the least amount of extra. A 42cm Contact alloy handlebar complements the stem.
Cameron began racing cyclocross on a borrowed bike with flat pedals. She’s since upgraded to Deore XT PD-M8000 SPDs from Shimano.
Interestingly, the bike even came with a Stages power meter, although Cameron admitted she hadn’t learned how to use it until after Nats.
However, as the former International Affairs major switched to Kinesiology for her grad studies, we can expect to see more powerful performances from this young upstart. She is even hoping to get into Dirty Kanza this year, which she intends to ride on the same bike!
For a closer look at Cameron’s TCX Advanced Pro, see the photo gallery and specs below.