Crusher in the Tushar is unlike any cycling event in the US, possibly in the world. It’s the sort of day on the bike where you’ll find yourself questioning not just your equipment choices but also your life choices. There’s steep, loose, climbing, fast, dusty washboard descents, deep sand, and ripping fast pavement. Oh, and the course tops out over 10,000 feet in altitude.
James Stout / Hero Image: Cathy Fegan-Kim
There’s no correct bike for crusher. Mountain bikes tend to suffer on the high-speed road segments of the course (we averaged 38mph for nearly 10 minutes) but excel at the descents and steeper climbs. Cyclocross bikes don’t offer the gearing or handling required to go up or down the steep stuff, but move well on the road and the rolling dirt sections. Road bikes (or just about anything with inner tubes) won’t make it far without a series of punctures, as Ben King found out this year. In many days, it reminds us of the early days of mountain biking when you begged, borrowed, and bodged a bike that you thought could make it around the course. The best bet at Crusher is a gravel bike, and tubeless tires of 38c or higher are a must. But skimping a little on gearing or tire width could mean a very long road trip ends in a very short bike ride, would be Crushers would do well to err on the conservative side.
Having ridden Crusher before (and spent a lot longer on tarmac than trails), we opted for a bike that would smooth out some of the descents, even if that meant the loss of a little speed on the roads. OPEN’s UP frame was one of the most popular amongst starters and provided an excellent platform for a SRAM red 2×11 groupset. A last minute derailleur breakage meant that we ended up with a short cage 11-28 where a 32 or 34 paired with a 50×34 would be much preferable. The all-important tire choice was one we left to the last minute. It rained the day before the event and we opted for the widest, most reassuring set up we had which meant a pair of Praxis’ 650 b c32 rims and a set of tubeless Schwlabe tires. On a dryer day, we’d have run the Stan’s Grail 700c wheels and the Kenda Flintridge tires we’d used in California to train for the event. Strava tells us that the 650b set up can’t be that slow as we averaged 38.9 MPH on a 5-mile road segment, putting us 4th on the KOM with over 100 attempts.
Every year, there’s some interesting tech on show in Beaver Utah. The variety at the start line, even in the pro field, speaks to the incredibly challenging and diverse course. This year, PELOTON took a road trip to check out some of the tech on show in the 6th edition of the Crusher in the Tushar. Hit the gallery above to see it all.