By Coach Mel
Does the first cool evening put your arm hair at attention and a nervous drop in your stomach? Does the sound of crunching leaves under a bike tire bring a chilling bounce to your step? If yes, you've probably raced cyclocross. If no, well then maybe you've entertained the idea?
Last year a few POINT members gave this crazy sport a go for the first time. This year we're hoping for more!What is cyclocross? Cyclocross is a hybrid of off-road and road biking. It is probably the most experimented-with form of racing because of it's fun atmosphere, welcoming vibe, and anything-goes mentality. Riders of all skills are broken into categories and told to race around a course like little mice as many times as they can in 45 minutes. Parts of the course are un-ridable so you have to skillfully (or not so) get off your bike and bring it with you over said obstacles, get back on, and hope to do it better the next lap. You will never be more tired, more muddy, or happier after being on a bicycle.
A lot of people say "I'm not good enough", "I don't have the right bike", "I don't have the right gear", " I don't like spandex." None of these are appropriate excuses for 'cross. ANYTHING goes. As long as you stay on the course.
Someone once said to me, “try it! It'll be fun! just show up!" So I did. I wore mesh basketball shorts, a cotton t-shirt, running shoes, and sat upon a hybrid commuter bike with a rack and lights still on it for my first race. While people found it amusing to shout "nice rack" as I slowly pedaled by, no one actually judges you; they are just psyched you are giving it a go. As they say, I remember like it was yesterday riding that first race. A section that I remember to be the width of a twig still stands out in my mind. I can still feel the breeze from riders BLAZING past me. I remember time stopping as I thought well this is how I will die. That my life would end there. Going probably 2 mph. It is my opinion that the adrenaline you get from thinking you will die and then not dying is the greatest adrenaline of all. Some may disagree or take a less intense perspective on the matter. But the point remains, you will not leave the race without having tried something that scares you a little, and that's pretty cool.
I didn't die and 6 years later I am about to embark on another season of cross, albeit slightly more skillfully and with a little douchier of an outfit.
This year there are many series to pick from. There is a Tuesday night series at PIR. A Wednesday night series at Alpenrose Dairy. A Saturday Series that changes location weekly and it all culminates in the Sunday Series: The Cross Crusade, the largest series in the US. The Tuesday and Wednesday night Series are a good starting point as they are smaller and a little shorter. But there is obviously nothing wrong with diving right in!
There is no other sport where you want to be the dirtiest of all in the end, where people put dollars in Coke cans and you go for them during competition, where beer is hydration, and where pros and novices come together in one day and all have the time of their lives.
Try it, I say! It will be fun...just show up.
Find out more here:
Tuesday Series, Portland Trophy Cup: http://www.portlandtrophycup.com
Wednesday Series, Blind Night at the Dairy: http://www.crossseries.com
Saturday Series, The Grand Prix Rhonda mazza: http://cyclocross.gp
Cross Crusade: http://crosscrusade.com