Bike Check

**Disclaimer: I am sponsored by the companies I mention in the article. However, I believe 100% in everything I stated in here. No company asked me to write this article or say something in particular about their products. I partner with these companies because I truly like their products.

There are a lot of “bike check” articles out there, and to be honest, I hardly ever read them. That being said, I don’t really know what you are supposed to write in your bike check article, so I’ll just create my own.

I think my bike is pretty cool, and I often get questions on the set up of the bike, so I figured I would introduce the bike to all of you!

Specialized Crux blending in the fall colours! Magically floating in the middle of the road.

Specialized Crux blending in the fall colours! Magically floating in the middle of the road.

Bike Specs

Model: Specialized Crux Expert. This is the same carbon frame as the S-Works model, except it comes built differently. I ride size 49cm.

  • Front/Rear 12mm Thru Axle (100mm wide in front, 142mm rear)

  • Made with the “Rider-First Engineering” which means the lay-up and the tube shapes of each size frame are refined accros the size range to accommodate to the requirements of different height/weight of the cyclist.

Wheels: I switch between Roval CLX32 and CLX50 tubular wheels

Weight: 16.2 lbs (fully built, pedals included)

Tires: Challenge Tubulars Team Edition. The treads I use the most are Chicane, Baby Limus, and Limus. Sometimes I use the Grifo, and I’ve heard the sandy Koksjide World Cup will demand the help of the Dune…

Group set:

Derailleur: SRAM Force 1 medium cage

Shift Levers: SRAM Force 1, hydraulic disc

Brakes: SRAM Force 1, flat mount-disc

Cassette: SRAM PG1170, 11-32T

Crankset: Quarq D-Zero Carbon power meter

Chainrings: 38T, 40T and sometimes 42T

Handlebar: Zipp Service Course SL-70, Aluminum, 42cm (250g)

Stem: Zipp Service Course SL, 90mm

Seatpost: Zipp SL Speed (20mm setback)

Saddle: S-Works Power 143mm (159g)

Computer mount: K-Edge Garmin Race mount (32g)

A few of my favorite things…

  1. It is light: Every time I come to lift the bike over the barriers, or put it on my shoulder for a running section, I’m surprised at how easy it is to lift it. Sometimes I even catch myself thinking: “What a pleasant surprise!” And I promise this is not because my arms suddenly got so much stronger… I have 2 nicknames when doing strength training: “Noodle arms” or “The microbe”.

  2. The big hoods: I have fairly small hands. When I switched to SRAM this year, I was afraid my hands would be too small for the hoods, because they were much bigger than what I was used to ride. But guess what?! I absolutely LOVE them. I feel like the bigs hoods gives me so much control when riding in the trails or in technical sections, because I feel I have a super solid grip on the bike.

  3. That one extra cog: I run the 1x drive train with a 11-32T cassette. I used to run a 11-30T cassette. But the 32T actually makes hills that much easier to get over. Who doesn’t like an easier hill?!

  4. The Wheels: Seriously, the first few times I rode those I felt like I constantly had tailwind. Wether it is because they are stiff and responsive, or light, or the bearings are great, or all of those reasons, I don’t know! But who doesn’t like a good tailwind?!

    • Little story: At one race, I smashed my wheel really, really hard on a curb. After the race, we realized I had banged it so hard that the carbon rim cracked a little bit. The wonderful thing is that the wheel stayed straight as an arrow and never weakened, which allowed me to finish the race without even realizing something had happened to the wheel, and therefore, take the win. That day, I realized I can really have confidence in my wheels, which is such a great feeling! I broke wheels before, and trust me, I realized it ;)

  5. Tires: They are supple and very resistant. Challenge Tires also makes many tread options, which makes it easy to find the perfect tread for every condition. Also, I still haven’t flatted all season, even if I tend to hit the rim pretty hard at times…(fingers crossed I didn’t just jinx myself!)

    • Little story: That day when I broke my wheel in the race, my tire did not lose one single psi…if that is not “tough” I don’t know what it is! It sure gives me confidence that if I push my limits in races, the tires will have my back.

  6. Power Meter: I like to train with power. And although I know that having the best power doesn’t mean you will win races, and that going harder doesn’t always mean faster, I still think a power meter is a great tool to measure progress in a very accurate and honest way. This year, I chose to put the Quarq D-Zero power meter (by SRAM) even on my race bikes, because it doesn’t even add weight to the bike (579g vs 679g for the SRAM Force 1 crank) and I can collect the data.

    • Something cool: You can change the chain ring without un-calibrating the power meter.

    • Something cooler: However, if you really want to make sure it is properly calibrate, you only have to back-pedal 5 times to re-calibrate it. That feature just added a week to my life with all the time saved by this calibration system!

The “Deets”

  1. Specialized is big with the details. They pay attention to every small details, which add up to make a difference when the bike is completed. Everything they make has been developed by highly skilled engineers with feedback from riders and that gives me a lot of confidence and trust in the products. But they go one step further, adding cool details hidden here and there. I’ve heard that in the design world, those are called “easter eggs”. I love easter eggs…

  2. Another detail I like is the little “lock pin” on the SRAM derailleur. I sometimes struggle putting the rear wheel back on, but this locks the derailleur in place, out of the way, and takes off the tension on the chain, making the job way easier!

This little rubber piece covers the seat post adjustment bolt, keeping it dry and clean at all times. It also looks great with that little logo, doesn’t it?

This little rubber piece covers the seat post adjustment bolt, keeping it dry and clean at all times. It also looks great with that little logo, doesn’t it?

That paint job… But also, look at the bolts!! (see below for a close up!)

That paint job… But also, look at the bolts!! (see below for a close up!)

Look at those bottle cage bolts :)

Look at those bottle cage bolts :)

The lock pin.

The lock pin.

When the lock-pin is on, there is no more tension in the chain. A quick tap on the derailleur will put it back in place.

When the lock-pin is on, there is no more tension in the chain. A quick tap on the derailleur will put it back in place.

What the mechanic likes

How the bike feels when riding is one thing. But how easy it is to work on is another thing. Here are some of David’s favorite things about the bike.

  1. The standards: The bike has all the industry standard specifications. 12mm axles, regular 27.2mm seatpost, BB30 bottom bracket. This makes it very easy to work on and makes the integration with Sram Force 1 perfect. It’s also a good thing if you travel a lot and might need to find replacement part at the very last moment. 

  2. The cables: The internal cable routing is very, very well done. Cables and housing slide in and out of the frame very easily without having to guide them with all sorts of magical tricks. They also come in and out of the frame at perfect spots, so no tight curves or weird cable loops! 

  3. Tires and Wheels: The Challenge tubular / Roval wheel combo is amazing. The wheels turn forever, they stay straight even after the strongest of hit. The tubulars are very flexible, the wheels a little wider then other industry leading brand it makes it VERY easy to mount tubulars on without making a mess. Even setting the tubular straight is an easier job on these wheels. With the Team Edition tubular, you don’t even have to seal the sidewalls! 

  4. Clincher wheels: The clincher wheels we use for training (C38 Disc) will mount most tires tubeless without the need of a compressor, which is a big plus for me. 

  5. Zipp Components: The Zipp components are light, stiff & have some very clear position guidelines. It’s much easier to setup the three bikes exactly the same when the components have lines/degrees/position markers on them. 

  6. The paint: Last but not least, even if the colour of the bike is bright and light, the paint is strong and cleans very easily. Even after a whole lot of muddy races, the bikes still look new!

Zipp components, K-Edge mount, and the star sticker! I have that star on every bike. It is a reminder from David that it is okay to shine!

Zipp components, K-Edge mount, and the star sticker! I have that star on every bike. It is a reminder from David that it is okay to shine!

I have 3 cyclocross bikes. We do a lot of bike exchanges to make sure the fit is the same on all of them!

I have 3 cyclocross bikes. We do a lot of bike exchanges to make sure the fit is the same on all of them!

The S-Works Power saddle may be the most comfortable saddle I have ever owned. It allows me to shift my pelvis when I go hard and I feel like this gives me more power without putting pressure on the ladies’ parts!

The S-Works Power saddle may be the most comfortable saddle I have ever owned. It allows me to shift my pelvis when I go hard and I feel like this gives me more power without putting pressure on the ladies’ parts!

38T chainring mounted on the Quarq D-Zero power meter. We change the chain ring fairly often and it is very easy to do with the power meter, only a few bolts!

38T chainring mounted on the Quarq D-Zero power meter. We change the chain ring fairly often and it is very easy to do with the power meter, only a few bolts!

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I have 2 types of wheels. The Roval CLX50 and the CLX32. We mounted the fast tires (Dune, Chicane) on the CLX50 and the muddy tires (Baby Limus, Limus) on the CLX32.

I have 2 types of wheels. The Roval CLX50 and the CLX32. We mounted the fast tires (Dune, Chicane) on the CLX50 and the muddy tires (Baby Limus, Limus) on the CLX32.

Balancing the bike for the photoshoot…Okay, now you know it wasn’t magically floating.

Balancing the bike for the photoshoot…Okay, now you know it wasn’t magically floating.

One more full-bike picture, because I think it looks great! Especially with the fall colours in the background :)

One more full-bike picture, because I think it looks great! Especially with the fall colours in the background :)




FEVER ALERT - Jingle Cross

***This is an extract from my Newsletter. For more tips, exclusive info, mechanical details, etc. you can subscribe at the bottom of this article.

Jingle Cross Weekend 

It's 4 O'clock. The women's World Cup starts in 15 minutes. The men have just finished racing, and the conditions seems drier than they have been all weekend. The mud is tackier and the guys have created nice ruts for us to ride in. I will race the Baby Limus tires, a semi-mud tire. My warm up is done, I get in the trailer for one last pee stop (isn't it incredible the amount of times you need to pee on race day?!) and to take a minute to focus. 

That's when I hear it. Tic. Tic. Tttttt-t-t-t-tic. It's falling on the roof of the trailer. Louder, faster, heavier every second. I peek outside and David looks at me : "It's pouring!". I can sense my adrenaline rising. Last minute decision: "Dave, please change the wheels. I'll race the Limus (heavy mud tires)". We get to the start line, it's pouring rain, course conditions are changing by the second. I'm excited. That's exactly why I love cyclocross. It’s unpredictable and you have to be adaptable.

The gun goes off and I have a clean start, until 30 secs into the race... Someone unexpectedly washes out in front of me, in a straight away, and takes me down with her. I tried to jump over her, but at the speed we were going, I didn’t have time to react and hit the deck. People were flying around me and although I stood up pretty quickly, I soon found myself in almost last position. My first reaction was “well, that sucks”. Luckily, however, I quickly changed my thoughts and got into chase mode.

It was completely chaotic out there, and so awesome at the same time. People where everywhere, all of us sliding down descents, running in deep mud and trying to figure out how to move up. My motto was: JUST. KEEP. MOVING. No matter how ugly and un-elegant the technique. It worked out pretty well as I was able to move up to 9thplace in the end. I was happy with my ride considering it started quite badly. It was a good fight, and I like to think that those fights make you stronger.

Day 2:
The day after the World Cup, we got to do another race. The conditions were not as slippery, but the mud was thicker, which made the running even harder. As we started, I felt like I was going to throw up, but I told myself to suck it up for a while and that it would go away. Luckily, it did. As I focused on following Katerina’s short, quick steps in the run up, I quickly got into a rhythm. The two of us got away early on and rode together for about 4 laps. It felt like the old times! I caught myself thinking "how fun. it's like we are playing team tactics", until she attacked and dropped me, where I was quickly reminded we are not teammates anymore! I still finished 2nd and felt that my CXFever was stronger than ever after this great weekend of racing!

I didn’t train much this past week because we were trying to recover from the cold I had caught the previous week. Nonetheless, I felt surprisingly good this weekend. Goes to show that when you are healthy, all goes well! 

There was a lot of this going on during the weekend. I suspect this must be David's favorite part of the job ;) Photo by TENSPEED HERO

There was a lot of this going on during the weekend. I suspect this must be David's favorite part of the job ;) Photo by TENSPEED HERO

There are always so many stories after races like that. Always so fun to hear everyone's perspectives of the race. Photo by TENSPEED HERO

There are always so many stories after races like that. Always so fun to hear everyone's perspectives of the race. Photo by TENSPEED HERO

The fans in Iowa were amazing. The best heckle of the weekend has to be that woman who screamed, in the Mt Krumpit brutal run up: "Old people rule! Go Katerina". I almost bursted out laughing. Photo: TENSPEED HERO

The fans in Iowa were amazing. The best heckle of the weekend has to be that woman who screamed, in the Mt Krumpit brutal run up: "Old people rule! Go Katerina". I almost bursted out laughing.
Photo: TENSPEED HERO

FEVER ALERT 3 - World Cup #1

***This is an extract from my Newsletter. For more tips, exclusive info, mechanical details, etc. you can subscribe at the bottom of this article.

World Cup # 1 - DNF : Not the good kind of fever


When things are going badly, it's safe to say that eventually, they will get better. Consequently, when everything is going amazingly, the only other option is for things to go a little bit less amazing. I believe that's one of the only constant in life. 

That being said, when we planned the season, we knew that flying form the East Coast to Reno, and then fly directly to the World Cup in Waterloo, in a matter of just a few days, would be hard for the body. But we wanted to make the trip, Interbike being a very important event. A lot of travel can be hard on health and we took our precautions, coming into the trip rested and taking all the typical precautions to avoid getting sick. 

However, the morning before the Reno race, I had already a sore throat. I slept A LOT since then, took it easy in training and swallowed many "cold killer" pills in the hope of being all good and healthy for the first World Cup of the season. Unfortunately, I still wasn't quite back to 100% healthy today. I still decided to take the start because you never know if you could surprisingly feel good. But there was no such surprises today...only burning lungs, and no energy. 

So after 2 laps, I decided to call it a day. I felt like by racing, I was only making my situation worse. Instead, by stopping earlier, I don't feel like I brought myself to the ground, and I'm confident that with a couple of relaxed days, I'll be back to 100%; ready and - even more - excited for next week's World Cup. 

It is always disappointing to not finish a race, but I can honestly say that I am happy with my decision. And although I'm bummed I got sick, and bummed I wasn't really able to measure myself against the best in the world during today's race, I still see many positives about the situation... 

Among the positive points: 

  • It's a looooonnnnggg season. I don't want to carry sickness over several weeks. 

  • I know the fitness is there. But health is priority. With no health, there is no performance. Once I'l be healthy, I'm confident I'll be able to race like I've bee doing so far this season. 

  • It was awesome to do the first 2 laps of the World Cup and get back into that fighting feeling, in such a deep field. Great experience for next week! 

  • In my young career, I've had way more "bad" racing moments, than good ones...although it was sometimes hard, I now see this as one of my biggest strength.  Trust me, I now know how to deal with this and it doesn't even affect my mood. 

  • Skills felt good during the race. I'm glad I could do a few good passes out there. 

At the end of the day, when something goes wrong, all you can do if focus on the solutions. My coach and partner David is a master at that...and as we stated before, if you do that, you know things will end up getting better again! :) 

Thank you for the support guys!! Through the highs and the lows, having you by my side means so much!! 

Photo by Luke Batten

Photo by Luke Batten

Still had good feelings in the technical sections - Photo by Luke Batten @tenspeedhero

Still had good feelings in the technical sections - Photo by Luke Batten @tenspeedhero

The 3 of us (me and the 2 bags under my eyes) are still smiling even after today's DNF. Because we have no doubt all will be back to normal in no time! Photo by TENSPEED HERO

The 3 of us (me and the 2 bags under my eyes) are still smiling even after today's DNF. Because we have no doubt all will be back to normal in no time! Photo by TENSPEED HERO

FEVER ALERT 2 - Reno Cross

***This is an extract from my Newsletter. For more tips, exclusive info, etc. you can subscribe at the bottom of this article.

Reno Cross


Tonight is Reno Cross, the new edition of Cross Vegas. Always considered a big race by many, because everyone from the industry is there watching. I am a bit nervous, yet deeply excited. This will be my first time racing “against” my friends form the CLIF Pro Team. I know how strong Katerina is, I know how smart she races and how skilled she is. I know, because over the past 5 years, she has been generous enough to share most of her racing thoughts and a lot of her racing wisdom with me.

Although we have raced against each other before, I never saw her as a rival. If we ever ended up riding away together in a race, I was stoked to be ahead with her, rarely thinking of how I could beat her…except during the 2017 BC Bike Race where we battled it out for 7 days in a row, but where I was never able to have the best of her.

So I am excited for a battle tonight. I know I need to bring my A game, and maybe even a little bit more than that, if I want to have a shot against her.

Here’s how the race played out...

Pre race: 

  • 25 mins before the start: David’s phone rings. I’m standing next to him. The alarm system is going off at home. The police is going to the house. “Okay. Well, nothing we can do about it from 5000km away.”

  • Continue warm up on the FeedBack Sports trainer.

  • Cleaning lady calls. She explains that she forgot the alarm code, etc. All I hear is blah blah blah. “Okay thanks for calling. I’m racing in 20 mins, I gotta go”.

  • A lot of chaos happening around. I’m kind of loosing my sh*t here.

  • Get off the trainer. Bathroom. Take 2 mins to calm down. Get in a good mindset. “Ok. Good to go.”

  • Normal pre-start chit chat. Velonews interview with Fred Dreier. I have no clue what I said. Sorry Fred.

  • On the line. Waldek (CLIF Team manager) jokes to Katerina and I: “Give ‘em hell Katka. Especially to that one”. Wink.  He generously picks up my jacket.


Race: 

  • BEEEEEPPPPP. Off we go.

  • Fast start. Get hole shot. “Sweet!” “Stay calm”

  • Get to the barriers. “SO MANY CAMERA FLASHES. I don’t see anything.”

  • Phew, made it safely.

  • “Feels like no one is following me…?” Turn around. No one is right there.

  • “There must have been a crash.”

  •  It’s windy out. “Go fast Maghs, but don’t burn too many matches riding alone in the wind. They will come back.”

  • After a lap. 10 secs gap. “They will surely come back.” “Go fast, but not TOO hard.”

  • After 2 laps. New strategy: “Go fast in tail wind, tempo in head wind.” “They will come back, but hopefully they’ll have to work for it.”

  • After 3 laps:  Gap is growing. “I may actually have a shot at this.”

  • “Okay. Let’s try this for real. Go really fast for 1-2 laps.”  

  • For 3 next laps: All I can think is: Smooth. Calm. Next turn. Stand up. Calm. Smooth. Change gears. Calm.

  • Gap is growing. People are cheering. “This is cool!” “No stay focus Maghs.”

  • Finally, I cross the finish line to take my first win at the Interbike race! “Yeeehaaaa!!!”


In the end, I was pretty excited to take the win at this first edition of RenoCross. I just had a smooth ride and was able to stay calm. Unfortunately, I later learned that Katerina crashed on the barriers on the first lap and broke her handlebar, which certainly did not help her.  

It was really special to celebrate the win with all my friends and all the people from the industry who support me. That’s why the Interbike race is so special. Everyone is there to celebrate with you.

Definitely a night to remember! Thank you, Reno Cross :) 

Photo by Luke Batten

Photo by Luke Batten

IMG_7768.JPG
Photo by Luke Batten

Photo by Luke Batten

FEVER ALERT 1 - Rochester CX

***This is an extract from my Newsletter. For more tips, exclusive info, etc. you can subscribe at the bottom of this article.

First race of the season - Rochester CX

The first race is always a bit nerve racking. What makes it stressful is the unknown. How fast will everyone be going? Who will come out swinging this year? I feel good in training, but how will that compare to everyone else? But these unknowns are also what make it so exciting to be back racing.

In Rochester, I’ve always had good races. I came close to the win many times, but always came up short. In 2015 I had my first podium in a C1 category race. In 2016, I was battling for the win, until I passed out on the finish line due to heat exhaustion…waking up in the ambulance to find out I ended up in 4th place. In 2017, on day 2, I was leading with less than half a lap to go until I dropped my chain, to finish 2nd. I finished 2nd on both days.

This year was especially exciting for me, because it was my first outing with the new equipment and under theCX Fever p/b Specializedteam. I had to work hard to contain my excitement and keep calm…my teammates on my previous team used to call me “Energizer Bunny” because I was so excited before cyclocross races. Needless to say, staying calm was no small task; it was an inner battle in my head.

Basically the whole race went like this:

Typical me:“Is Ellen bringin me back?!”
Calm me:“Focus on yourself Magh. This turn, then the next…”
Typical me:“OMG still 4 laps to go, will I make it?!”
Calm me:“One by one Maghs. You like doing laps. Relax and do it like in training.” 
Typical me:“OMG, could I win again today?!”
Calm me:“Don’t think about it Maghs, just ride.”
Typical me:Tatatatatatat “Ho, my sticker is really flapping. I wonder if it will hold on until the end”.
Calm me:“Whatever Maghs. Just keep riding.”
Typical me:“Ok Magh, don’t mess up that section.”
Calm me:“Don’t think about that. Put your weight back, let go of the break, just execute.”

When I could finally see the finish line, I finally allowed my typical self to think: “Phew, you made it! YAYYY!”

After 4 years of trying, I manage to keep my calm and it paid off as I was finally able to bring it home for the win. After a good battle with Ellen Noble on Day 1, I attacked with 2,5 laps to go and kept it steady to win my first UCI C1 race! I was more than happy to repeat the feat on day 2! 

This is great momentum to start the season. It gives me confidence that the training we’ve done is paying off and that we are on the right path. It was also good to test the new equipment and start to feel as one with the bike.

Now, we have to keep working well, because some bigger challenges are coming up shortly with the World Cups in less than 2 weeks!

I already can’t wait.

Cheers, 

Maghalie 

So happy to start the season this way! Photo by Luke Batten

So happy to start the season this way! Photo by Luke Batten

Focused on an off camber section - Photo Luke Batten

Focused on an off camber section - Photo Luke Batten