Talk with Carlos Casali of the Gates Singlespeed Race Team

For most of my CX season was spent in chase of these guys so now that the season is over (for me at least) lets catch up and learn more about the team and the growing division of single speed... which if you didn't know, I love.

[303Cycling] How did the Gates Carbon Drive Single Speed team get started?

It all started with individuals who are cyclists themselves - Brad Marshall, Frank Scurlock, Todd Sellden and others within Gates Carbon Drive Systems, the global leader in bicycle belt-drive technologies, got together to discuss the possibility of putting a single speed team together to act as brand ambassadors, grow the popularity of singlespeed cyclocross and spread awareness about the advantages of Carbon Drive. I myself didn’t know much about this system, I will be honest, but now I am completely sold – I now have 3 bikes with belt drives. The system is clean, quiet, and strong (I weigh 185 lbs, if someone can put this to the test, I am a good candidate as anyone). As the team has been preaching to all who approached us before and after races, maintenance on this system is easy, just hose it off. The name ‘Carbon Drive’ comes from the carbon fiber cords embedded in the belt. Much more can be found in http://www.carbondrivesystems.com/media/

[303Cycling] Carlos, how did you personally get involved with cyclocross and especially single speed?

Prior to this year, I did a few cross races last year, and even less the year before. For how I hooked up with Gates, I was approached by Brad during the Salida Omnium, as I decided to convert my road bike to single speed for the single speed criterium that weekend. From there, and it seems like a long time ago, everything happened so fast, and here we are today. I first hooked up with Derek Strong about the team, and then recruited some really strong riders to join us – Mitch Westall, Brian Hutchison, Ben Ollett, and Garrett Davis. Quite a powerhouse team. I myself was a bit worried about joining the team and racing cyclocross. For one, I had a full Achilles tear last December, and surgery as well, and was off the bike and in crutches for nearly 2 months. I was not back on the bike till late February of this year, and had not yet put my Achilles to the test (that is why I race with ankle braces). I also hit a bad stretch in April this year, where I crashed in 3 consecutive races. However, the year went really well after that early scare. So far in 2010, all I had done was race on the road. Also, the whole idea of a single speed class, and racing cross against guys who are extremely technical in nature – I knew I had to fully commit or not do it at all. But I was excited, I knew that contrary to 2009, when by October I had no motivation to race anymore, in 2010 I had a late start due to my surgery, and was hoping to stay motivated through the ACA calendar. One motivating factor was that our kids are into bikes, and of the 3 boys we have, the middle one (Adam) loves to cheer folks on the side of the course, and he also races, so it just seemed like a wonderful opportunity.

[303Cycling] What were your team’s goals for 2010?

As mentioned above, we had clear goals in mind – first and foremost, good ambassadors and representatives for Gates Carbon Drive Systems. Alternatively, we were made very clear – ride the bikes hard and have fun, and provide feedback. And that we did. Several of us raced in Cross Vegas in September, and several of us raced at the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championship in Seattle in October (http://www.youtube.com/user/
GatesCarbonDrive#p/u/6/SqkZ_9ZuwMk
), and we also took the ACA calendar seriously, with myself having raced all ACA races since late September and my teammates also racing
several times. I look back, and can say we have accomplished our mission. I personally have talked to dozens of people about this belt system, people I knew and people I now know and am friends with.

[303Cycling] About the single speed category, what have you noticed about this class and changes during the year?

Well, it has been a great experience. The guys I race with in the singlespeed category come from all cycling levels and backgrounds and walks of life, but all with something in common – out there racing and having fun. I have fully embraced the singlespeed category – it is competitive, fast, laid back, and just fun. We are competitors, but like all other categories, we are there to have fun. I have personally seen the class grow in numbers during the year.

It is great to see other riders doubling up and racing in this category. From time to time, we have celebrities like Brady Kappius and his dad Russ race with us, as well as Paco and others well known names in the cross community. It is also so much fun when we see new faces racing out there. I believe the ACA is looking into different ways to keep promoting this category with potentially different start times next year – which is a direct result of how this category has evolved into a very large, competitive, and fun cross category. I am sure the Cat 3’s will also be pleased to not have a bunch of singlespeeders always breathing down their neck. Everybody is winning.

[303Cycling] Are there any goals for 2011 in the works?

While there is nothing definite at this point, I can say that a) I am meeting with the folks at Gates in the near future to discuss the direction of the team and Gates’ goals for 2010, and b) that I have received tremendous interest from many of you wanting to be part of this experience with the belt system. Gates in considering expanding the team in 2011 to have a presence in different geographic regions—East Coast, Northwest, places with good CX communities, and perhaps expand the system to mountain bike racing and endurance racing as well. In addition, discounts on team bikes and uniforms may be available for those hammerheads wanting to join the belt drive revolution. More information will certainly come out in the New Year. More information can be found in the website mentioned above. In summary, I very much look forward to what is ahead in 2011.



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