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by Wade Wallace
October 30, 2020
Photography by Wade Wallace
In the latest instalment of Bikes of the Bunch, we’re taking an in-house look at another CyclingTips staff member’s bike. This time around, it’s CyclingTips founder Wade Wallace and a 16-year-old Cannondale CX bike with a back story.
It’s not often that an inanimate object (if you can call a bike ‘inanimate’) can change someone’s life, but my Cannondale ‘6 Pack to Go’ is one of the only possessions I’ve ever owned that can claim to be an integral part of such a life-changing story. I’ve tried to sell it a few times over the years, before the story had fully played out, but now you couldn’t pay me enough to part with this personal treasure.
Fifteen years ago my wife and I had our quarter-life crisis and moved from Canada to Australia. I had been racing competitively for as long as I could remember, but by this point it had gotten stale: I was on a treadmill sustained by the same people, the same races, and perhaps a win once in a while if I was lucky. I was pretty much done with cycling.
I remember how excited and terrified I was in the airport as I rolled my luggage to check-in, moving across the world with a suitcase, a guitar, and this cyclocross bike. Those were the worldly possessions my life was reduced to. I’ve never found anything so liberating.
The only reason I brought this bike was because I didn’t have a car for my foreseeable future in Melbourne. On those commutes to work way back in 2005, people would take an interest in this beefy road bike with knobby tyres and look at me like I was riding a UFO. I would tell them that it was a cyclocross bike, and get a blank stare in return.
I found myself watching the kiteboarders at St Kilda Beach and thought ‘that’s the sport I want to do!’. Instead of looking at the wheel in front of me for hours on end in the gutter of the road, I’d use the wind for something exhilarating. So I bought a kiteboard and did just that.
Fast forward a few months and as fat as I’ve ever been, I took this bike to some morning bunch rides to see if I could shed a few pounds. It was the dead of winter, pitch black mornings, and a completely foreign scene to me. I don’t know how many times I got dropped before finally making it around with the bunch (after deciding to put some road tyres on!).
Eventually I began doing a few crits and found myself winning on this bike. I even raced my first Melbourne-Warrnambool on it. I quickly got picked up by a fully sponsored team, hopped on a new Look 595, and the ‘6 Pack to Go’ made its way onto the balcony with a drop sheet over top of it. I tried to sell it a few times, but nobody wanted a CX bike in Australia. Back under the drop sheet it went, and I rarely thought of it again.
This is the photo I took when I tried to sell the bike in its original spec: Triple Truvativ chainring, 105 brakes, horrible ALX wheelset, and don’t ask me about the flat pedals. The bike was originally spec’d for and bought at Bow City Cycle in Calgary, Canada back in 2004. Nothing except for the frame/fork, seatpost and headset are original to the bike anymore. It still brakes as poorly as it ever did after a swap from rusty cantis that I couldn’t adjust to new cantis that are equally crap.
In 2009 I heard about what may have been Australia’s first cyclocross race. I pulled out the old ‘6 Pack to Go’ and made my way down to the track. At the last minute I was offered a beautiful Moots to ride that was my size, so I switched over the pedals, raised the saddle and won the race. The poor Cannondale watched on from the sidelines.
By this time I had made my way full circle back into the race scene, and it was all thanks to the ‘6 Pack to Go’. This bike came all the way from Canada with me, got me back into cycling, enabled me to rekindle my passion for the sport, and eventually led me to starting CyclingTips from my kitchen table. The journey has brought me so many wonderful experiences and friends.
New Hunt wheels brought this bike back to life. The Challenge tyres are also beautiful, but took me two hours to put on. And then I found out that they’re not tubeless. After about 2L of sealant in each tyre, they’ve now been converted to tubeless.
For years, the ‘6 Pack to Go’ had been sitting in my shed with flat tyres, broken spokes, a rusty drivetrain, battle-scarred bar tape, all wrapped in spider webs. During lockdown I decided to pull it out of the shed and give it a wash. One thing led to another; I converted it to a 1x drivetrain, put some new Hunt wheels on it, new tires and bar tape, and gave it some love. This is the end result.
In my quiver I also have a Baum Corretto travel bike (which I call ‘The Baumpton’), a Specialized Vado e-bike, I’ve been through six generations of Specialized Tarmacs which I still love, three Giant TCXs as a CX/Gravel bike, as well as three Giant Anthem mountain bikes. As you can see, once I find a bike I love, I stick with it.
The ‘6 Pack to Go’ is not a fancy bike, it’s not a new one, and it’s far from being the nicest bike I own. I’m sure I could get a few hundred dollars for it, but the longer I own it, the more priceless it becomes to me. It’s a link between my two home countries, has been my companion on some of the most iconic climbs of Europe, and has literally changed my life.
Born in the Republik of Bowness.
This bike was made with the CX racer who likes the party at the back in mind
Those of you who listened to my ‘From the Top’ podcast with Tori Fahey, the founder of Apidura Bags, will know that she grew up across from Bow City Cycles bike shop and is now doing great things in the bikepacking world. Go Deadgoats!
Since Specialized launched its Power saddle, I’ve switched all my saddles to this shape, which many brands have since adapted.
Anyone know how to get ride of fork shimmy? One of the charms of this bike is the fear of stopping and thinking the fork is going to snap.