Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Stop! Thief!!!" Oops, Sorry, It's Just a Cyclocross Rider

Pardon my reaction, but when I see somebody running like hell with a perfectly serviceable high-end bike on their shoulder, instinct tells me that it ain't theirs! In this case, the suspect is a participant in the growing sport of cyclocross. Cyclocross has bored me for the last several off-seasons. I pick up VeloNews and see guys with trashed bikes riding through mud pits and then jumping over barriers and running while carrying said bikes. Frankly, this is NOT what brought me to cycling. I really enjoy putting on my fresh, stylish kit and riding off on my sparkling machine with my drive train tuned like a Swiss timepiece.
Cyclocross is different. Bikes are muddy. Riders are muddy. The couse is, by design, muddy. I try to avoid mud while riding my bicycle but, in reading up on a couple of events, I came across tidbits like this:

"Water was $2.00, beer was free."
"Every participant gets a beer at registration"

I remember reading about a BIG, national level cyclocross race last year in which the race leader lost time and a couple places because he slowed to grab a beer on his way to the finish.
I'm a lightweight in the field of drinking these days, but I like the attitude, so maybe there is something to it after all.

Cyclocross bikes look like road bikes at a glance, but require wider clearances for bigger tires and mud and are equipped with caliper brakes for reliability in, you guessed it, mud . Some are actually designed with toptubes featuring a flattened bottom surface to facilitate carrying the bike on your shoulder. While I've carried my bike from the road to a rest stop at Hotter'n'Hell to avoid flat-causing goats heads, I've never considered buying a bike for which "ease of shouldering" is a desirable design feature.
Locally, there is a bit of a movement to introduce cyclocross. This from the ABC website:

The Community Bicyclist Cyclocross Training Series
9:30am Sundays now through January 25 at North Shore Business Park (SE corner- next to ADEQ). Mountain bikes welcome. Questions? Call Frank at 663-7300.

Competitive Cyclist held a race or two a few years back, but it got about as much traction as a road tire in the mud pit, but 'cross seems to be catching on.

I'm always glad to see anything that brings more people into cycle sports and the area along the river can certainly produce the key ingredient of mud, so maybe it will attract some participants. Besides, it will eventually require serious riders to go out and buy more bikes! That's got to be a good thing!!

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