I just gotta say that Zenmotion's "like a wildebeest herd" is the most beautiful metaphor I've ever read.
How did you first get involved in cyclocross?
One of our goals in starting this magazine is to help grow the sport we all love. To that end, we hope we can build awareness of ‘cross and interest people in trying it out or coming out to watch. So we wanna know about your first ‘cross kiss.
I’ve been a bike racer basically all my life, so my story is probably a bit different than most. Finding a way to try to ride two wheels really fast, regardless of the bike or surface, was always just natural. I never really did get the “really fast” part down, but anyway, I was always looking for new forms of bike racing, and cross was just one of many forms I tried. It just happened to be the one I liked the most. So that’s my story, but we are very curious of how you learned about the sport, and what got you hooked.
So share your stories, as it’ll help us not only provide you with a better magazine but also hopefully guide us in our efforts to keep ‘cross growing. And let us know if you’re cool with us using your story in our print mag too. A lucky few might even get a free subscription out of it!
andrew [[at]] cxmagazine.com
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I bought a cX bike. Rode it everywhere and realized right away the universal potential in cross riding. I can ride this bike anywhere my MTb will go (with some exception) and on any road ride where the gears will handle the speed. I think cross racing is about as close as you can get to having a decent spectator turnout at an amatuer event. The fact that you can run a cross race through the streets in your hometown, just up the street through the city park where you must dismount for a 16 inch high long wooden park bench, down a long set of concrete stairs to the levy, into a abandon warehouse and out the other side...past the local coffee shop or Pub....this type of venue is fun and has great community involement..it's just plain smart..
I bought a mountain bike a few years back thinking I would start riding it, but it didn't really work out that way. Last year I quit smoking (hopefully for good this time) and in an effort to get into better shape and lose some weight, I decided it was time to dust off the old mountain bike and get out and ride more.
So over the summer months I put a lot of miles of dirt on the mountain bike and caught wind of a group ride on the North Country Trail in northern Michigan. While sitting around the campfire one of the nights up there, I learned that one of the people there that weekend was responsible for putting on the local race series in West Michigan. All of the stories and talk of cyclocross peaked my interest, so when I got home, naturally I started to learn more about cyclocross. A couple of weeks later, I put my road bike up for sale and picked up a cross bike, and have been addicted ever since...
I had been racing road and mtb since the early '80's. Had Ed Litton build me a CX bike just to have fun with, then a buddy of mine talked me into going down to Santa Cruz for the Surf City races, this was about 1989, the races in the infamous wood pile, Bob Liebold's jungle cross. I was hooked and that's all she wrote. Still at it, but I did get a new bike. And the courses are a little more sensible.
I started out as a roadie back in the late 70`s early 80`s, then started breeding and everything with bike`s kinda slowed way down, bought a Mtn bike around 90 and got back into racing and then laid off again, until 2003, bought another mtn bike then a road bike in 05, and hooked up with a buddy I graduated with 25 years ago and he talked me into trying cross! Looked all over for a cross bike to no avail, found one Tina Brubaker was selling and she met me at Alpenrose the day of my race with bike in hand at 8:30, I switched pedals raised seat lined up for my 9:00am race and proceeded to place 54th, and never had more fun in my life! now it is all I think about 24/7!
On a gloomy fall day in 2001 I was driving down I95 hell and decided to make a Baltimore pit stop for a big plate of Moussaka in Greek Town, and found myself right at the venue for Nationals. Alison Dunlap said hi to me on her way to the top step on the podium, and I watched several races including Todd Wells' amazing comeback from behind to win the Elites. The big fields just flowed like wildebeest herds over the barriers, through turns and up concrete steps- I don't recall anybody tripping or crashing at all, it looked like ballet. The riders all looked graceful, and very tough even in the masters and womens fields, grinning, and grimacing through a layer of dirt. These were real athletes, and clearly out of their minds redlining on their bikes for an hour. And the bikes were way cool- battle scarred, industrial, competent tools to get the job done, anything goes parts-wise, nothing stupid light or polished to be pretty. I had stopped road racing 5 years before, with job demands, and living in a congested urban environment where training just didn't seem possible. But watching my first cross race hit me like a shot of adrenaline, I just had to learn to handle my bike like that, and train my body to survive that. I got back on my bike and rode through the winter, did a few tentative races to get back in the groove over the Summer, and got my ass handed to me at six cross races in a row the following Fall, and loved every minute of it. The following year, things clicked and I got a third, then a second place in the Cs. OK, no more C's! And now at the end of every summer, the fever hits like sap running up a tree, day dreams of rain, slip-sliding through S-turns on soft tires, and cowbells.
I got involved back in 2003. I was doing some research on getting myself a new bike & stumbled upon cyclocross. I did my first race ever in fall & have been hooked ever since.
The downside? I have not improved one bit since! But every year, I am out there defending the Laterne Rouge in my home province of Quebec.
I few years ago I worked with a guy who was a USA Cycling offical in Tucson and he was trying to get CX off the ground there. He described it to me and it sounded interesting. Three years ago I moved to Seattle and worked with a girl that taught CX workshops and the seed of cx got planted in my head again. Then I moved to CO and decided to try a race last fall. A woman I work with that is exactly my size has a custom IF CX bike that she load to me for the race. I totally got creamed in the race but I had a blast. Now I have two cross bikes of my own on the way and look forward to a full season
I got started a few years ago. I'd quit smoking (again) and figured if I got back on the bike I'd have more motivation to stay quit and maybe wouldn't gain much weight. I was hunting around for something competitive to do on the bike that didn't scare hell out of me like an industrial park crit. I figured I had a time trial career ahead of me when I stumbled on a local cyclocross series. I watched one race and was back a month later with a set of Speedmax tires and cheap Sora shifters on my ancient steel 7 speed road bike.
I had a blast and fell in love with this beautiful sick game.
I too came from the hardcore days of mountain bike racing when everything was anodized purple. Tinker was going to the Olympics after the selection race at Schuss Mtn. Our local mtb promoter put on a three race series. Almost everyone came with mountain bikes. After seeing Van der Poel win Worlds, I thought it looked sweet, so I gave it a shot. Maybe we all have addictive personalities cuz I was hooked. A couple years later I got my first 'cross bike, a Nishiki road frame a friend had bosses welded to. It had down tube shifters and weighed a ton. I took it to the first SuperCup in Naperville and the McCormack brothers were cool enough to talk to me and were excited to see new people getting into the sport. Like a true addict, I kept searching for that high and kept having to increase my dose. I did the whole SuperCup series one year when Lyle was bringing guys out of smoking tents. I got a pit bike. I switched to tubular tires. I got oodles of wheels. I've been to every National Championship since the Presidio in 1999 and have helped promote UCI races. There's still more high to achieve. I need to get to Europe for World's or X-mas week. That would be cool. Later.
How did I get involved in CX? By being a spectator!
Velodromes were my pinnacle of cycling because of the speed. I used to watch the Olympics in the '60's and '70's start to finish just so I wouldn't miss the 2-3 minutes of velodrome racing. I raced at T-Town (let's not talk about "results", OK?). I always thought 'cross was stupid ,because all the pictures I ever saw were people carrying their bikes at what I assumed was a plodding pace. Why would I want to watch guys slog through the mud on foot?
Then my wife and I went to a training camp at Mike Fraysse's Inn/training center when he had the "Vandendrome" protable velodrome there. But it rained the whole time and we "trained" indoors on rollers watching video. You guessed it, I saw cross on video. We looked at each other and said, "Wow, that's pretty cool!". So I looked up cyclocross on the 'net and found out there was a MAC race in Philadelphia coming up. I went, I saw, I said "Wow, that's pretty cool!" So I took my kids to another (free entertainment!), and another (you play on the playground while Daddy watches the races..), and another... Eventually I found myself having a picnic at Mr. Dupont's place during the Granogue race. As I stood on the hill of this amazing property, surveying the beautiful scenery on one side and an international race on the other, I said, "Wow, this is waaay cool."
I had a background promoting motorsports events (I created SUPERKARTS! USA), and had announced go-kart and stock car races for years. One day I'm at a race, and the announcer isn't announcing because he's racing and I ask if they want me to fill in the gap until he's done. Suddenly I've got a mic in my hand, and they left it there until the end of the day. Later I would realize that I was one of the announcers for the first-ever UCI victory by some young kid named Ryan Trebon, and I said to myself, "Wow, this is really cool!"
So this is where watching cyclocross as a spectator has brought me. I now do the publicity, and most of the announcing, for the powerful MAC and the fast-growing BikeReg.com MABRAcross series -- as well as for some independent race. A few days ago I announced a cyclocross race under the lights at the New Jersey State Fair, where the fair officials said we pulled a better crowd than the annual demo derby or the tractor pull. They estimate that 2,000 people watched cyclocross at the State Fair this year -- with a less than ideal time slot. And I have to wonder -- how many of those spectators will now be more considerate of cyclists while driving on the road? How many will be inspired to ride a bike to lose weight? How many will spread the word about 'those cyclocross races at the fair'? How many of influential in politics, business and community will hear about cyclocross? And, as a result, the next time they read about cyclocross in their local newspaper, how many people will say, "Cyclocross is coming. Wow, I've heard that is really cool. Let's take the kids and check it out"? It's happened before. It happened to me.
Cross. Wow- what an amazing sport. So glad we met. It all started back in the day. No.....I mean BACK in the day. Missy Giovi and Paula Pezzo were my heroes. We are talking when clipless pedals and rock shox were edgy. Whoa- I can't believe I am admitting this publicly.
Anywho- my passion for all things mountain bike related expanded to the road for training purposes and then life happened. I got a job. I no longer had 4+ hours a day to roll around in the mud but couldn’t stop riding. I turned in to a roadie and forgot about my mountain bike for a few years. Thank God that only lasted a short while and she was happy to see me when I came back.
Then there came cross. I spent many cold and rainy days schlepping pit bikes around for a no longer significant significant other. I fell in love (with cross ;-)).
I first got involved in cyclocross after seeing it on television. The images of skinny dudes in tights, carrying bicycles and breathing through snot-cicles while running through snow, made quite an impression on a (then) 24 year old Hawaii transplant.
New England was really getting the party started, hosting the National Championships out in Sterling MA one year, that was the season where I really got hooked. I enjoyed watching the McCormacks, Bowen, Jan Wiejak, that Kona guy, the young whippersnapper Jonny The Cat, Jon Page, Tim Johnson, all battle it out for the wins on the frozen tundra. I pushed my voodoo mountain bike through all manners of slush and crud that fall and winter. For some reason it made sense to be 180+bpm for 45 minutes in 35 degree weather.
You don't get involved in cyclocross, it's more like an infection. Like any malady you can cure it by a) racing all the time or b) getting old and fat so that it goes away by itself.
I really like the bikes the best, since they are a perfect blend of speed and agility. A Supermotard dirt/street bike is an analogy with a motor, but I believe 'cross predates motard racing. It's a shame the UCI doesn't think disc brakes are a good idea, because they really are. Not that you're supposed to slow down, that is. But drop bars, a 46x12, skinny tires, and solid brakes are an addicting experience, on or off road.
Yeah I blame Andrew too.
I have a funny story because it involves Andrew, the author of this post. So, he and I worked at Yahoo! together and I was interested in commuting to work via bike. The path I'd found was part dirt, part road. Not sure how I'd heard of cyclocross bikes, but I asked if anyone knew much about them - Andrew gladly offered up some advice on what to look for. After he knew I purchased one he mentioned the first Pilarcitos race of the season to me and said I ought to try it out. Low risk, right? I tried it...and fell in love. This season coming up is my 3rd, I've already had 4 cross bikes and got my eye on a new one.
I'd been a BMXer growing up and rode a MTB or two during college but getting into cross really got me hooked on bikes. I feel like I found a sport/hobby that just resonates with me. I love tinkering, I love designing new bikes, and without a doubt cross bikes are the coolest looking type of bike out there. Now I ride all year - road, mtb, cross, and I might have to try the track out too!
and for all this, I blame Andrew ;-)