Look at the top of the results sheets for U.S. UCI cyclocross races in the second half of the 2000s and you are likely to find the name Deidre "Dee Dee" Winfield. The then-Virginia resident raced near the front of the domestic UCI scene for a half decade, finished as high as fourth at Elite Nationals in 2006 and was a member of the 2007 Worlds team.
"I used to race cyclocross about 11 or 12 years ago," said Winfield about her racing career. "I did some of the bigger UCI races, the World Cups, I went to Worlds. It was a long time ago. I'm washed up now."
After seeing Winfield race on Saturday, her quip about being "washed up" is about 100 miles of gravel from the truth. Winfield survived a tough challenge from Kristen Legan and Jenna Rinehart to win the Women's title at the 2018 Almanzo 100 gravel race in Minnesota.
With the changes in cyclocross and gravel technology, however, some might argue her winning carbon Blue Norcross SL frame that dates to the 2011 model year with rim brakes, inner tubes and inline brake levers might also deserve the moniker. With her win on Saturday, Winfield showed her bike is still up for the gravel grind.
Winfield stepped away from racing after the 2010 season, but is back to competition this year after moving to Plymouth, MN a few years ago. "I try to ride as much as I can and race when I can," she said. "I like to do fun stuff like this. I enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere in races like this. I haven't done a lot of these 100-mile races. It's not really my forte, so I am kind of venturing into that area and trying to get a little more endurance."
Winfield looked like an endurance pro on her semi-throwback carbon Blue Norcross SL on Saturday. Today, we profile her Almanzo-100-winning ’cross cross-over gravel bike.
"I like to do fun stuff like this. I enjoy the camraderie and atmosphere in races like this." - Dee Dee Winfield
Dee Dee Winfield's Almanzo-100-Winning Blue Norcross SL
Winfield's frame was the black and yellow carbon Blue Norcross SL. One thing that is notable about the frame is it is one of the Jonathan Page Signature Series bikes Blue made to help support his European racing. Similar to what Katie Compton did for the Trek Boone, Page provided input on the frame's geometry to suit his tastes. Fortunately for Winfield, as a now-former Blue-sponsored athlete, she did not have to break out the checkered tape to ride the frame in a race.
"I like how it feels," Winfield said about the bike. "It fits me really well. It corners well. I love it." She also added that she has hung onto it because it is from the days when equipment was free for top riders like herself.
Winfield's Norcross SL frame is from the days before disc brakes became the norm. The Norcross SL came stock with TRP cantis, but Winfield has since switched to Paul Components Touring cantilevers in the rear and Paul's Neo-Retro cantilevers in the front.
Winfield has doubled up with her brake levers dating back to her Elite racing days. Salsa Cross Levers 2 inline brake levers joined the SRAM Force DoubleTap shift/brake levers on her hoods. "I've had those on since I raced ’cross," Winfield said about the Salsa levers. "I don't use them a ton anymore. I've kind of transitioned away from them. But on some of the descents, it was nice to be able to place my hands on top of the bars and still have stability. I used to use them a lot back when I raced ’cross."
Winfield moved to Minnesota from Virginia a few years ago an decided to keep it local to her new home with her wheels. She ran rim brake HED. Ardennes alloy clinchers with white Challenge Grifo XS clinchers mounted up.
The Grifo XS clinchers are discontinued and pre-date Challenge's new tubeless-ready tires, so Winfield ran them with tubes, which is arguably rarer than seeing cantilever brakes at a gravel race these days. In a perfect bit of je ne sais quoi, the Grifo XS now lives on as the Challenge Almanzo gravel tread.
The first half of the Almanzo 100 course featured a hardpack base with medium gravel covering the surfaces in spots. Some of the surface was exposed, leaving fast A lines in spots. The second half of the course—from about mile 65 to mile 85—was covered by freshly laid gravel that tortured riders as they tried to plow through the thick road surface.
After the race, Winfield admitted she did not know what tire pressure she ran her inner tube clinchers at. "I felt like I had a little too much pressure in my tires," she said. "It was a little squiggly at times. We got in that loose gravel and I was like 'I need so much less pressure right now.' Otherwise I felt pretty good. It's just kind of putting your weight back and letting your bike glide. Making sure you have enough room to float through that stuff because if you hit the brakes you're toast."
Winfield said she thought about remedying the pressure situation. "I considered stopping and taking some air out because I felt really squirrelly the whole time, but I didn't want to stop and have to catch back up."
Winfield's drivetrain was 10-speed SRAM Force. Her front chain rings were Thorne Koksijde 44/36t and her rear cassette was ... she was not really sure. The cassette had enough teeth for her to stick with Legan up the Almanzo course's last big climb and then attack to get away for her winning margin.
Up front, Winfield ran an FSA handlebar with an alloy Thompson Elite X4 stem. She used a Garmin 820 computer to track the route and miles and attached her 1272 number plate with very matchy-matchy yellow zip ties. To round out her contact points, she had a Specialized Ariel Women's saddle and Crankbrothers Candy 3 pedals.
See the specs and photo gallery below for a closer look at Dee Dee Winfield's Almanzo 100-winning Blue Norcross SL.
For more from the Almanzo 100 gravel race, see our impressions of Shimano's new Ultegra RX800/805 clutch-based derailleur.
Dee Dee Winfield's Almanzo-100-Winning Blue Norcross SL Specifications
Frame: Blue Norcross SL, carbon, black and yellow, Jonathan Page Signature Series
Fork: Blue carbon, cantilever brake mounts
Brakes: Front: Paul Components Neo-Retro cantilever; Rear: Paul Touring cantilever
Crankset: SRAM Force, 44/36t Thorne Koksijde chain rings
Front Derailleur: SRAM Force
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force, 10-speed
Shift and Brake Levers: SRAM Force DoubleTap; Salsa Cross Levers 2
Wheels: HED. Ardennes alloy rim brake clinchers
Tires: Challenge Grifo XS clinchers, white
Stem: Thompson Elite X4
Saddle: Specialized Ariel Expert Women's
Pedals: Crankbrothers Candy 3