photos by Andrew Yee
Carl Decker leads the Lost Sierra Triple Crown race series after his win in the Lost & Found gravel race in the Sierra Nevada Mountains this weekend. While we'll have a full race report coming soon, here we're taking a quick look at Decker's winning rig, a Giant TCX Advanced cyclocross bike, which he piloted to the podium's top step.
Decker's winning Giant TCX 'cross bike, modified for grinding gravel with the best of them, is of course based on the company's standard TCX Advanced carbon 'cross offering. We've seen the bike before under the likes of Tristan Uhl, who rode his modified version of the bike to take the 2016 Men's Single Speed Cyclocross National Championship. Decker's bike had to be outfitted not for limited shifting, but for the dusty, rocky and challenging Lost & Found course, which features numerous climbs and fast, fairly technical descents.
The keys for Decker were riding smarts coupled with choice gearing, reliable rubber and some weight savings in perhaps an unlikely place.
Wheels and especially tires are always the equipment pieces most asked about at events like this. And Decker's bike rolled on Zipp's aluminum 30 rims set up tubeless with Schwalbe's G-One gravel tire with 35 psi up front and 41 psi out back. Decker didn't experience any punctures while last year's champion Tobin Ortenblad and Grinduro champ Barry Wicks flatted three times.
Sure luck plays a role, but it wasn't purely chance and tire choice and set-up that kept Decker rolling. He has won the Downieville Classic all-mountain category multiple times, and has descending skills as good as anyone or better. At the Lost & Found he took it easy on the descents, knowing that not puncturing was key. In those instances where he was following the wheels heading downhill, he'd wait a bit for the dust to clear so he had a good line of sight, something he attributed to experience. People call him a cagey vet and smarts like this show why.
Decker also needed the right gearing to get to the top of the climbs found on the Lost & Found course, especially the tough final ascent leading to the finish. Decker's SRAM Force 1 single ring setup featured a 44 tooth front ring paired with a 10-42 XD cassette out back. Decker was unaware you could pair SRAM's Force 1 DoubleTap shifter with the 10-42 cassette, something his mechanic set up for him the week prior, but the rider seemed appreciative of the wide gear range on race day.
The rest of the drivetrain was SRAM's Force 1 offerings, the DoubleTap levers, rear mechanism and the hydraulic brake calipers. The cockpit came from Zipp in the form of the company's Service Course SL stem and bars. Decker's preferred Fizik saddle is the Arione K3 triathlon model, which maybe is attributable to his roommate, pro triathlete Matt Lieto, who finished fourth. Some roommates just borrow shampoo.
Interestingly, Decker ran HT road pedals. Decker's Giant team is sponsored by HT for pedals, and Decker noted that the road pedals and Giant road shoes (the squad's shoe sponsor) probably saved half a pound. Given the large platform and the fact there was no need (at least for strong racers like him) to walk any sections of the course, this proved to be a smart trade for significantly less rotating weight and a stiffer platform. The downside is that Decker was unable to drag a foot in fast, loose corners, something he said he's normally do.
Decker is now motivated to win the overall Triple Crown title, and now leads the series. Given his ride at the Lost & Found, and his prowess at the Downieville Classic, he seems a good bet to do just that. As mentioned, we'll have a full race report soon. And we'll have an interview with Decker too, so stay tuned.
Carl Decker's Lost & Found Winning Giant TCX Advanced Gravel Bike Specification Highlights
Frame: Giant TCX Advanced carbon disc cyclocross
Fork: Giant TCX Advanced full carbon, 15mm thru axle
Wheels: Zipp 30 alloy disc with XD driver
Tires: Schwalbe G-One gravel tire
Crankset: SRAM Force 1, 44t X-Sync ring
Cassette: XD 10-42
Front derailleur: n/a
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force 1
Shift/brake levers: SRAM Force 1
Stem: Zipp Service Course SL
Bars: Zipp Service Course SL
Saddle: Fizik Arione K3 triathlon model
Pedals: HT road
More info: giant-bicycles.com