My thanks to another of Alpine’s star physical therapy aides, Lindsy Campbell, for this fast-action and informative article on cyclocross. What she won’t mention to you is that she’s tearin’ it up . . . usually in front of the pack! Read on . . .
Fall is here; you can feel the crispness in the air. The days are getting shorter, and frost covers the ground in the mornings.
However, while most people are winding down their outdoor activities in between summer and winter sports, a handful of deranged bike enthusiasts, including myself, are just gearing up for a big season of cyclocross. What’s that you ask? Psychlo – cross? No, the word itself doesn’t give us away as psychotic but rather refers to a type of bicycle racing that combines elements of both road cycling and mountain biking. (See what I mean?)
A cyclocross bike looks like a road bike but has more clearance for thicker, knobbier tires. Also, the bike’s geometry allows the rider to get their weight back which is essential for balance in technical, off-road riding.
A cyclocross race sends cyclists on a short loop that includes sections of road, gravel, mud, sand, grass, hard-packed dirt, and sometimes snow and ice. If this is not exciting enough, cyclocross races also include barriers and steep slopes that require contestants to jump off their bikes and run and leap with bikes in tow. (Here’s a perfect example of me doing exactly that!)
Unlike other forms of bike racing where cyclists ride great distances on remote roads (think Tour de France) cyclocross is just a gut-wrenching 45 minutes on a short loop usually in a city park. This makes spectating easy and rampant. Fans line the course of a cyclocross race with cowbells, dollar bills to taunt racers with, and, of course, beer. (Can you tell from this picture that a beer is really all I need right about now?)
Really, all of this must be hard to imagine. There is no way to give cyclocross justice in writing, so I invite all of you to my team’s race, Rolling Thunder, at the American Legion Field this weekend. For me this is the biggest race of the year: hometown fans, big prizes, a tough course, and even tougher competition.
For the adventurous there is even a first timer’s race in the afternoon. You may just find that cyclocross is far more interesting, challenging, and beneficial than your typical pre-ski season workout. Not to mention fun . . . lots and lots of fun.