Cyclocross: The (Awesome) Crazies of Cycling?
Recently, we went to our first cyclo-cross race. Actually, it was our first bike race experience ever! It’s the most fun that I’ve had in a while and we’re now pretty much addicted to the sport.
Cyclo-cross: What is it?
I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you probably know what ‘cross is. But, just in case you don’t, Wikipedia seems to have a pretty good page about it: click here to read. Cyclocross started in Europe (well before mountain bike racing) as a way for road cyclists to train in the off season.
My impression of bike racing in general is that it can be torture. It seems challenging enough, whether it’s road or mountain or track or whatever. But, some cyclists decided that it should be harder than that. Or, at least, much crazier. So, why not through in a few obstacles and horrible weather and horrible conditions. Mud? Snow? Sure! Force me to dismount, carry my bike over something, clip back in…and repeat several times? (Oh, and then there’s the beer). Fantastic! So, it seems, perhaps ‘cross racers are the awesome crazies of cycling? Which is exactly why we’re attracted to it…count us in!
So the first race we watched, ever, took place in Michigan. It wasn’t an intense race, though. It’s part of “KISSCross” for Keep it simple, stupid. It’s meant to be more of a way to train and get introduced into the sport. Perfect!
We arrived and had no idea what we were doing. Where do we park? Oh crap–we have to drive through the race line? How do we do that? Okay, now what–where do we go? Where do we stand? And, uh, now what? Do we cheer? We don’t know anyone! What’s with the cowbells? Can we go into that building…it smells like there is food! I wonder how we looked to others, bumbling around with wild wonder in our eyes, and goofy child-like grins.
It was a small crowd and had a really laid back and fun atmosphere. They were doing the Cat B race when we got there, but we were freezing and walked to Starbucks (about a mile away). It was nice because it gave us a chance to walk around the lake and enjoy the scenery. On our way back, sipping our pumpkin spice lattes, we could hear cheers and could see them racing through the trees across the lake.
We arrived back to watch the end of Cat B and then the Cat A race. I don’t know how many were in the Cat A–maybe like 12? I identified only one woman (but I could be wrong–everyone was all geared up), so that was a little disappointed so few women were participating that day.
We found a good spot where we could walk back and forth from a zig zag race pattern on a grass hill to a dirt hill that they had to carry their bikes up. We mostly stayed by the top of the hill because that’s where most people were.
It was a lot of fun! It was impossible to avoid the enthusiasm as the crowd cheered at the top of the hill, offered each cyclist a beer, and rang their cowbells. I’m glad that we got over the initial anxiety about how we wouldn’t know what to do when we got there. We had a blast! I look forward to going again (hopefully I will have found my stupid camera charger so I have more than my phone!) and J loved it so much he’s going to actually try to do it!