This article originally published on BikeRadar
Elle Anderson (California Giant) is only in her third consistent year racing cyclo-cross at the elite level. She's clearly a fast learner, though, with stellar early season results that include clean weekend sweeps in both Gloucester and Madison. Anderson is riding Specialized's CruX Pro Race and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Anderson says that much of her fitness comes from racing on the road during the summer but credits her alpine ski racing background (she attended the same Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont as late CX racer Amy Dombroski) for her handling prowess on the 'cross circuit.
"I think that my balance on the bike really comes from my ski racing days, when I'm turning and bouncing over all different types of terrain," she told BikeRadar Sunday morning before the Boulder Cup. "That's definitely a core part of the skill set of a ski racer – knowing what line to take, knowing how to shift your weight fore and aft as you're cornering. A lot of times I find myself enjoying the really twisty, turny 'cross courses because it just reminds me of a ski race."
Anderson says a recent bike fit at Specialized HQ in Morgan Hill, California has helped, too.
"Bike fit is really important because it really just allows you to be so comfortable on the bike, with cornering, or preventing lower back strain, or knee problems, or whatever. Having a really dialed fit helps with the confidence but also the longevity of the season so you can just rely on that solid position and count on it every time."
Astute readers will note that Anderson is currently on Specialized's second-tier CruX Pro frame and not the flagship S-Works version – a slight hiccup that was actually created as a result of that fit session.
"I had previously said that I was on a 52cm frame but we decided that I was better suited for a 49cm because it allowed me to get a little more drop in the front," she said. "[We went with] more reach and more drop because I have pretty good flexibility and can ride that position. That was interesting for me because I had never considered those geometries before."
Anderson runs an unusually generous amount of drop for a shorter rider
"We changed the frame size after the initial order was put through so the paint job for my bikes right now doesn't match the team paint job," she explained. "I should be getting some matching team frames later this season."
Anderson's build kit is very straightforward with few surprises, including a SRAM Red 22 HRD group, aluminum Zipp Service Course SL cockpit components, and matching Zipp 303 Firecrest Tubular Disc wheels wrapped with supple Dugast tires. Naturally, the Oura Pro saddle and grippy Roubaix bar tape come from Specialized's own in-house parts bin.
Anderson says she's really happy with the overall responsiveness of the bike but it's the disc brakes that have really won her over.
"I had never been on disc brakes before I got on this bike just a couple of months ago. That was a really cool moment. The responsiveness I felt the first time I got on the bike and the control, the modulation, was nothing like I've ever had before. That's been really fun."
Total weight as pictured is 7.75kg (17.09lb).
Not surprisingly, such a cut-and-dried setup makes the mechanics happy, too.
"She's super nice and super easy to work with," said team mechanic Hunter Veloz. "We've had no problems with her."
Anderson does apparently receive near-universal chiding for one equipment choice, though – her old Time ATAC Carbon pedals, which date all the way back to 2008.
"I get kind of a hard time with those pedals," she confessed. "I just don't know – pedals are one of those things where I just recycle them year to year. Maybe it's time for an upgrade but sometimes you just get used to what you've always had. I don't mind them."
As the saying goes, there's no sense in fixing something that isn't broken. Few would argue that so far, it all seems to be working pretty darn well, too.