My work schedule will be keeping me from any new posts for the next week. In the meanwhile, let us reflect on the sport of cyclocross.
Cyclocross was invented by some Frenchmen over 100 years ago as a cycling activity to amuse themselves with during the Winter. It involves riding over grass, dirt, snow, cement, and just about any surface you can think of. Copious amounts of mud are highly desirable. Cyclists are sometimes required to carry their bikes up and over obstacles. The bikes are similar to road bikes, except the tires are fatter and knobbier, the wheels tend to be bigger and cantilever brakes are used vice calipers so they’ll still work in the mud. Unlike Mountain Bike races, cyclists are allowed to switch bikes in the middle of a race, so “pit crews” are often used to clean and oil one bike while the rider is on the course with another one.
The easy-going party atmosphere of cyclocross is decidedly different from the traditional/stodgy environment of road racing. Cyclocross fans are known for wearing costumes, screaming wildly, drinking alcohol, and generally being as much a part of the event as the riders.
This video gives you an idea of how the sport works. I’m not sure I’m ready to join in, but it’s definitely an interesting twist! The first minute features some amusing crashes, but then shows you some of the athleticism and dexterity required to mount, dismount, and carry your bike at speed in the mud.
If you want to learn more about cyclocross, check out The Nine Ball Diaries (available for immediate online viewing on Netflix). This 45 minute documentary follows cyclist Tim Johnson through a cyclocross season. The film is titled after Johnson’s unorthodox cycling uniform which is dotted with nine balls. If the film ever explains why he wears that outfit, I missed it! You can get a sense for just how fast these guys can go despite the course conditions.
See you next week!