Ever since The Inner Ring put out his ‘Why I hate cyclocross’ post, I’ve been toying with a response. But busy with travel to and from races, I shelved my thoughts on the subject to focus on other subjects. But today, a day of Thanks in the United States, it came back to the forefront.
The love affair really started in 2009. There had been fleeting contacts the years before, where I attended local races and enjoyed the craziness of cross in Northern California but I’ll admit to not taking the racing that seriously (shame on me). Then it all changed. A quick email led to a conversation with reigning US Cross Champion Ryan Trebon to try and understand this cross business. Infatuation set in at CrossVegas.
Then, the following weekend at USGP in Madison, I was embraced by the amazing folks that pepper the cross scene in the US. I wondered, is this what cross is about? The scene?
It turned into full blown love a month later at muddy Cincinnati3 Cyclocross Festival. I watched the joy that multi-time US Cross Champion Katie Compton had when sharing her knowledge at a clinic before she went on to dominate the racing. I watched Jeremy Powers explain his passion for the sport. And I was hooked.
Since then, the relationship has deepened as I criss-cross the country to cover races, get to know riders and staff and even took trips to Europe. Like every love affair, my relationship with cross has had its ups and downs but still I come back to it.
There are so many layers to the sport here. It is a party and serious business at the same time. It is inclusive and individual. It is simple and complex. Cross in the United States is very different than cross in Europe but there is one thing that is common to both, the racing is serious at the highest-level. Very serious. It seems simple, but watch carefully the battles on the course. Watch how a rider tries to drop another rider switching speeds on the technical sections or using their power. Watch how the technical sections of the course impact the racing. Watch how bad tire selection and tire pressure can scuttle a strong rider. Watch similar battles happen at the front and throughout the field.
Then, there are the spectators, cheering for everyone – that is very different from Europe. It’s a party and everyone is invited. And of course the heckling. A good heckler is rare but so much fun.
And then, there’s the future, the expectation, hope and excitement that the sport is on the cusp of something big, especially with the 2013 Worlds in Louisville. It seems obvious that this sport is perfect for TV too – the 60-minute (or less) duration, small footprint and excitement of the races all should it make it easy to go mainstream.
Visceral.One word I could use to describe cyclocross for me. Why do I love cyclocross? Because it grabs you deep down, engages your emotions and really doesn’t let go.
The following video was created at the beginning of the 2010 season: