The joy of CX
There comes a time in every cyclists life when their mind turns to cyclocross. For mountain bikers it seems to start when they need an excuse for a new bike. And they think it might be fun. For roadies and testers it’s a way to keep fit and see the club over the winter months. And they think it might be fun. BMXers probably don’t get it, but that doesn’t make them bad people.
Cyclocross started in Europe, as a winter activity for road riders to stay in shape (and perhaps earn a few Francs) once the weather became to treacherous for road racing. The mud and sand may be even tougher than wet cobbles, but at least you are moving a bit slower if you crash. The sport has developed a new set of skills, separate, yet overlapping, with road and mountain biking. These days the racing has evolved in to a occupation in it’s own right. Big events, such as the Superprestige series, attract tens of thousands of fans and have developed their own customs. Brass bands, riders fan clubs, chips (with mayo) and heavy drinking has drawn in even more fans.
Perhaps it’s coincidence, but, in recent years, the Americans have taken to ‘cross with aplomb. They seem to manage to take the events to both extremes- serious racing yet better fancy dress and heavier drinking. Perhaps the disappointing thing for European fans is that they have managed to actually race in the warm sunshine. The upside of this is that there now seem to be ‘cross races year round in Europe.
Cyclocross races are short, rarely much more than an hour. That’s not to say they aren’t tough. It’s only you that limits the suffering that’s possible. The positive side of this is that, with a huge amount of activity crammed in to a short space of time, it’s a very good excuse to relax for the rest of the weekend.
Many pro’s race bikes are very specific machines, optimized for the sole purpose of racing on a very specific type of course. Most lack any un-necessary features, mud guard eyes are a no-no and some bikes go as far as saving the few grams gained with bottle bosses. While these bikes will perform brilliantly for their purpose there are very few people in the world who need this level of focus. A good modern ‘cross bike as a fair degree of flexibility. That’s not to say it’s just a light touring bike. The design should be optimized for going fast. It’ll be quick on the road but capable on all but the toughest mountain bike trails. Sometimes there will be the provision for mud guards or a light rack, both of which are nice if you want to push it in to commuting service.
Push your limits.
The flexibility of a ‘cross bike lends itself to unusual rides. Road riders can investigate that RUPP and other rough stuff in relative safety while mountain bikers can see just how much they can get away with. Whichever angle you approach from you can’t help but build your skills. And getting out of your depth is what it’s all about. Isn’t it?
CX is a beautiful thing. Enjoy it. Share your love.
by Shaggy - dazeoftundra.com
3 November 2011