“What exactly is cyclocross?” is usually the response I receive when I mention this new hobby of mine. Short answer: cyclocross is amazing. Longer answer: cyclocross is somewhere in between road and mountain riding. I suppose you could just read about it on Wikipedia, but really, it’s so much more to it…
Depending on the course you will see some combination of pavement, grass, gravel, dirt, bark dust, wood chips, sand, and even puddles that are closer to being proper lakes. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that cross thrives, like Belgium or the Northwest, the course is often an excuse to get covered in mud. Obstacles are key. It’s what separates cross from riding around on your lawn. These come in many forms. The standard is a ~40 inch high wood plank positioned in the middle of the course that you are forced to dismount your bike and jump over. Some obstacles can be bunny hopped (personally, I think this is for the weak). In certain races, the rules state you must dismount your bike, but that’s not always the case.
The length of the races are a bit unique. The races are roughly time based, where duration of the race typically correlates with skill level (better racers means longer races). After a lap or two, the race official decides how many laps are left based on the pace of the riders and the total duration allotted. The last lap is the bell lap, where you’ll heard some cowbell prodding you on for one more lap.
Half of the cyclocross experience is audience participation. This includes beer hand-ups (nothing like a swig of beer to power you to victory), dollar grabs (put sticking out of a bottle or in the mud and wait for a rider to grab it), taunting/encouraging the riders, and simply more cowbell. A well stocked race will also have the belgian waffle stand and some deep fryers for some fritz. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to have some beer for breakfast.
A dollar grab in the wild (Photo Credit to @BrianLeeT)
Cyclocross season is in full swing – let’s make some bad decisions.