Let's Talk Cyclocross
By Rob Coppolillo with contribution from Bicycle Paper
Top ranked racers like former pro and national champion Russell Stevenson (351) can be seen at many of the local events.
The United States has arrived. Forget landing on the moon. Put the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on the back burner and let the miracles of the personal computer and the internet fade from your consciousness for the moment.
Let’s talk cyclocross. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. is now home to some of the best ‘cross racers and events in the world and we’re even hosting the World Championships on February 23, 2013, in Louisville, Kentucky. We have arrived. Sure, we may not be Belgium, but we do shower everyday and the sun comes out once in a while here, too. Indeed, the U.S. has hit the big time.
This is where you come in. Maybe you’ve never seen a ‘cross race. Maybe you’ve never even seen a bike race, but no matter — now is the perfect time for you to go watch one or two. Let’s flesh out a few reasons why. Read on, oh soon-to-be ‘cross fanatic.
You Love the Zoo, Right?
You’re probably not a zoologist, biologist, maybe not any kind of ‘ologist at all, but you still love the zoo, right? Why? Because the animals are right there! Only a flimsy little fence separates you from exotic, beautiful, powerful beasts. Cyclocross racing is just like going to the zoo. The kids will freak and you’re guaranteed to get some great pics.
Watch the Pros
Imagine being able to walk down courtside for the NBA finals and hearing the guys slam into one another. What would it be like to hang out behind the goal to see Abby Wambach score a jumping header? Awesome, that’s how! Cycling is the only sport that allows you to spectate at an arm’s length while the best men and women in the world fly by at 40 miles per hour. You’ll get to see the best Canadian and American racers, national champions, national team members and world championships participants such as Ryan Trebon, Geoff Kabush, and Zac MacDonald, as well as the best of the next generation like Logan Owen.
Your Kids Will Love It
Every toy for sale these days says your kids will love it, but here’s the gig: At most Northwest cyclocross events there are free kids races, and most will feature a mud puddle or two, which are guaranteed to make the little riders smile, as the entire crowd cheers them on as they go by.
After watching your first cyclocross race you'll be hooked, and soon after you'll most likely find yourself on the course for an unbelievable 30 minutes of high intensity fun and crowd screaming mayhem. Come and watch ... we dare you. Obstacles like barriers make things interesting.
You Don’t Need to Wait for Halloween
Most cyclocross racers don’t take themselves too seriously, neither do the organizers and that’s why the dress code isn’t too strict. The event’s atmosphere is very festive, so why not wear a costume? Many racers choose to dress up for these races, especially the single speed contingent, but in particular around Halloween. From walking carrots to Super Mario, ballerinas to undefined, you will see it all and you don’t want to miss this spectacle on wheels.
Great Options to Watch the Action
Cyclocross courses are short and easy to walk around, so you can enjoy a variety of views. Each circuit includes various features where riders must dismount and remount their bikes, be it a barricade, a staircase, a sandpit or a run up. There are always exciting places to hang out and good spots for shooting photos. Tight off-camber corners are also frequent as are fast rolling sections. In the pits you can see riders switching bikes on the fly while mechanics wash and fix them in record time.
Many races occur during the course of the day, so you can spend the entire day or just hang out for a few hours. Most races range from 30 minutes for the beginners to 60 minutes for pro and elite riders. Kids' races are run on a shorter circuit.
Most Events are Free
It doesn’t cost anything to watch, although a few venues do charge for parking, but doesn’t most any sporting event charge for parking? A quick fix: ride your bike to the event and tow your kids along with you.
Rain or Shine
When the weather is crappy there’s no need to worry, the race is still on. Cyclocross events don’t get canceled due to rain, so barring major disasters, the races are always on schedule - rain or shine. Put on the proper clothing, including gumbo boots, tuque and mitts, and bring an umbrella, or not, and be ready to witness some great racing. The more rain the better, as racers get that much muddier!
Some of the larger events will have an expo area, a beer garden, food vendors and other activities to keep everyone entertained and well fed. You can also pack your own lunch and make it a day venture.
Everyone Should See at Least One ‘Cross Race in Their Lifetime
Did you go see Michael Jordan play during his heyday? Yeah, we didn’t either ... and I could kick myself for not doing it! Checking out new exciting sports events, museums, random gatherings, and cool happenings is a great way to keep your life interesting, so come see what the hype is about. Cyclocross is the fastest growing segment of the bike world and for good reason. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s the best spectator sport of any of the disciplines.
There is Something for Everyone
Want to do more than watch? For $10 you can get a one-event permit at race registration and get yourself in the action. Mom, dad, grandpa, grandma and the kids can find a category appropriate for their level of racing and get a taste of the sport.
From September to December, hundreds of impassioned cyclists will compete and thousands of fans will cheer them on every week. Start planning now and come on by for some of the cyclocross races that are happening throughout the region, everywhere from Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham, Bend, Eugene, Walla Walla, Moscow and Boise, there is sure to be an event near you. Check out the calendar section for details.