A few weeks ago, Mike and I were standing course-side at Schooley Mill, watching Chris Carraway get the hole shot and put in a great performance on a set of RFSWs. At the time, we commented to each other how having some skin in the game made watching the races exciting and nerve-wracking. Adding to the nervousness was that Chris was using just a standard set of RFSWs - not the SOB build. We were confident enough to let a friend have his way with our wheels (and he's actually using the set that I'll be racing on for next year's road season, so I'm not exactly hoping that they'll get all trashed), but we'd still feel like poo if a wheel failure wrecked a race for him.
Fast forward a few weeks, and Chris has sealed the deal, taking victory in the 3 race at the Virginia Cyclocross Series Final in Charlottesville. There's even a nice helmet-cam video of it over in the Cross Hairs.
On Saturday, I had the chance to get in some quality winter miles with Chris, who still has a few CX races left on the schedule, and he's pretty darm enthusiastic about the wheels. He's promised a full write-up soon (apparently law school is a bit of a schedule hog), but the key points to his appreciation for the wheels so far are:
1. They're stiff, which improves the steering and handling, and lets one feel what the tires are doing. I think I know what he's talking about on that last point, having felt a similar thing riding RFSWs on the road. It's subtle, but definitely there.
2. Riding through slop is much easier. The high rims slice through sand, mud and muck more easily than shallower rims do. There is both a automatic rudder aspect and a "hot knife through butter" aspect to this. There was a sand section in Charlottesville that Chris claimed to have had a pretty simple time riding through each lap, in contrast to the difficulties that everyone else was having.
3. They stay true and they take it. Watch the video. The course looks mellow for the most part, until it's not, and they're going full bore over roots and logs and such. Chris isn't anyone's idea of a clydesdale, but there's no babying of the wheels going on here. Whatever the quick line is, he's trying to be there, wheels be damned. After a bunch of races like this, the wheels are as nearly-perfectly round and true as they were the day he got them.
So, full report from Chris to follow, but bravo to both Chris and the RFSWs. We don't yet have to spring for the rainbow stickers to put on the wheels (a cost that we will gladly eat should it be necessary), but so far so good.