disc brakes for cyclocross, steel is real?, tubulars

Finally got this thing all the way together today and rode it a bit.

Frame- 1996 Marin Pine Mountain.  Disc tab added to rear by Eric Peterson, paint by Lin Anderson.
Fork-  Nashbar carbon disc
Brakes-  shimano mechanicals (I like the feel better than the Avids actually-  they are built like bricks though)/tektro levers
Crankset-  stock White Industries by Sugino, stock BB from 1996 too!
Pedals-  Eggbeater SL
Wheelset-  Mavic gl330 taken out of a dumpster laced to Hope Ti-glide hubs by Ben Witt.  Hubs are 5-bolt disc using a removable spider.  The rotors have little flames in them...
Tires- Tufo Primus
rest is pretty miscellaneous

Initial thoughts-  it handles right.  The disc brakes work.  On singletrack it's amazing how awesome it is to have the power of discs.  Right away I was really enjoying myself.  This bike 'feels' like a mountain bike rather than like my CX bikes despite the drop bars.  The handling is somehow very different than the CX bikes but not in a bad way.  Best example is that there is a bit of a hairpin turn on a fast descent which I ride all the time.  The Tommaso Diavolos dive 'into' the hairpin and almost snap through leaving it.  This bike does not but it handles it very proficiently still, just in a more stable manner closer to the way my Cannondale 29ers feel.

I will be racing it four times over the next two weekends.  The schedule is such that each day I will race geared first and then have about a 20 minute break before the next race.  This should give me a lot of time to really get used to the differences between disc brakes and not.  I kind of know what my conclusion will be already- that they are incredibly confidence inspiring but as of now too heavy and not necessary anyways-  but I will keep an open mind.  Regardless, I definitely cannot afford to upgrade the rest of my bikes to high-end discs with new wheels.  There is no doubt that my 16 lb CX bikes and high end carbon wheels are faster than whatever disc stuff I could afford to replace them with in the near future.

So far as steel is real...  sure.  Working on this project has made me think a bit about it beyond that though too.  I wouldn't buy a new steel frame unless it was true custom.  What's the advantage again?  Especially when there are so many cooler ones out there waiting to be reclaimed.  What would you rather have-  something welded in Taiwan or something with some character?  I also don't get "high-end" custom steel frames...  what do you get?  Recently I've seen some builds on custom steel frames (mountain and CX bikes) that made me wonder why you wouldn't just buy a carbon frame and a used volkswagon...  with the only apparent answer being "because I want to look cool".  Not cool to me anyways.

Lastly, so far as tubulars.  Go get some if you plan on riding your skinny tired bike on grass, mud, or dirt, you won't go back.

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