Thanks in part to the irreverent Singlespeed Cyclocross Worlds (SSCXWC), the singlespeed category of cyclocross has gained a reputation for walking on the wild side.
For those who think racing with one gear and maybe a cool costume are still kind of tame, tracklocross might be worth a look. Sure, you only get one gear, but try handling barriers, sketchy downhills and obstacles with no brakes and no freewheel. And unlike SSCXWC, there are no tequila shortcuts. When the title is on the line, it's full-on racing, at least up front.
Tracklocross in the U.S. is a loosely organized series with scenes in six major metropolitan areas across the country—the Bay Area, Chicago, L.A., Orlando, Denver and New York City. The National Championships took place in the Bay Area at the end of June.
One of the riders who tried her hand at Tracklocross Nats was Sammi Runnels (Squid Squad). Although no stranger to cyclocross or fixed gear racing, Runnels was taking part in just her second tracklocross race ever, and left the event undefeated in two tries.
Squid Bikes is releasing an overseas-built tracklocross-specific frame, but Runnels took the title aboard her $quidcross customized specifically for the fixed-gear discipline.
We spoke with Runnels after her win (see that interview here), and also took a closer look at her winning bike for this first-ever Cyclocross Magazine #tracklocross bike profile.
Sammi Runnels' Tracklocross Nationals $quidcross
We last looked at Runnels' $quidcross after Reno Cyclocross Nationals. Needless to say, that bike's tracklocross cousin was just a bit more colorful and adorned with finish line caution tape.
As always, Runnels was riding a size small of the aluminum frame machined in California by Squid's neighbor and partner Ventana. The frame has post mounts, but Lulz, this is tracklocross, so those were superfluous*.
*To be fair, brakes are allowed in tracklocross but using them disqualifies the rider from earning series points.
Squid's bikes are known for their wild, often rider-created paint schemes, and Runnels' bike was no different. The frame was spray-painted a mix of colors and the ENVE Cross Disc fork had plenty of flair as well.
Runnels ran a 40/17 drivetrain, with a 40t SRAM X-Sync chain ring mounted to a SRAM Force 1 crankset. In the rear, she ran a 17t cog.
To get the right chain tension, she used an eccentric bottom bracket from BEER components.
Converting a thru-axle disc geared cyclocross bike to a singlespeed takes some work—as we saw with Sarah Sturm's Nats CruX—but converting a rear wheel for tracklocross takes even more effort.
Runnels stuck with her Zipp 30 Course Disc-Brake Clincher tubeless wheels and converted the rear wheel to a fixed-gear setup using a Paul Components Fixed Disk Word hub. Thru-axle fixed gear hubs are pretty rare, but the product Paul Components calls a "unicorn" allows for the conversion of a disc brake thru axle frame. Tracklocross curious riders don't need such a specific component to give the sport a try. Squid Bikes' Chris Namba says an old school rim brake cyclocross frame with a high bottom bracket is ideal.
The Bay Area is dry this time of year, so Runnels stuck with the IRC tubeless tires she ran last cyclocross season but pumped up the volume a bit since there is no pre-race width check from the tracklocross officials. Runnels ran 700c x 40mm IRC Boken gravel file treads in the front and rear. On the loose downhills, she certainly had her skid on as she tried to keep her speed under control.
With no need for brakes or shifters, Runnels opted for a Truativ Descendant Carbon flat bar held by a Zipp Service Course SL stem. She turned heads and bars with a White Industries headset. She also attached a bell, for good manners when passing others.
Her seatpost was a Zipp SL Speed (20) 20mm offset, and her saddle was a "Chunz" model produced via a partnership with SDG. Crankbrothers Candy 7 pedals rounded out her contact points.
For a closer look at Runnels' tracklocross $quidcross, see the gallery and specs below.