Imagine showing up at a bike race and not knowing which discipline you are going to ride that day. Mountain? Road? BMX? Track? They are all possibilities and you have to be ready for any of them.
That is the philosophy of CrossFit: Ready for anything.
At the 2017 CrossFit Games being held in Madison, Wisconsin Thursday through Sunday, ready for anything means ready for cyclocross. For the 40 men and women vying to be crowned fittest on earth, #crossishere.
The CrossFit Games have been around for about ten years, with previous Games held in California. This year is the first year the contest will be held at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Athletes qualify for the games at regional events, and then 40 men and women compete in the elite field and masters older than 35 compete in age groups (no Baby Masters for CrossFit). Each event is scored based on time or other metrics and the winner is the athlete with the most points.
When athletes arrived in Madison, they did not know what to expect. Again, ready for anything. On Monday night, an athlete dinner was held where the competitions were unveiled. In addition to cyclocross, some of the other contests include a run-swim-run, obstacle course and muscle-up clean ladder.
Reactions to the cyclocross announcement were reportedly mixed, but at least the athletes have a few days to hit YouTube and find videos with primers on dismounting and remounting a bike and proper heckling technique. Although hopefully they will not come across the cyclocross crash compilations.
Minutes after @thedavecastro announced a three-lap cyclocross race as the second event for Thursday, @colesager35 confessed that he had "walked the dog park" and had an idea something like this might be coming. At the dinner Monday night, Castro jokingly called out defending champ @mathewfras as another who had been poking around the grounds. Indeed, it's tough to conceal a lengthy cyclocross course. When pressed as to what kind of dog he has, Fraser smiled: "I don't actually have a dog." The champ kept to the code and wouldn't name names as to whom he was with until I told him Sager had already admitted he was there, too. "Someone from @CrossFit came out and told me to leave," Fraser said with a laugh. Sager was excited that the Games are now free to explore a new venue and new geography in 2017: "I think this is going to be the funnest test, the best test, and the most complete test yet." #CrossFitGames 📷 @rubywolff #CrossFit — Swipe to see athlete reactions.
CrossFit Cross Preview
The finals of the cyclocross race are being held on Thursday. On Wednesday, athletes will do a one-lap time trial of the course to slot them into two final heats and determine the call-up order. The course itself is probably what ’cross riders would describe as a “grass crit” being held on the grounds of the Quann dog park. I have walked friends’ dogs at Quann several times and have often imagined what a Quann cyclocross course would look like, and to be honest, there really is not a lot to work with at the park.
Organizers still did their best to give CrossFitters the best possible ’cross experience. In addition to several sweeping corners, there is a set of four! barriers and a two small logs or boards the riders should be able to jump over. I spoke with Bryan Fosler, the test rider in the video, and he said the first corner is a bit of a doozy, so riders may get a first-hand experience of some first-corner cyclocross carnage.
As for the bikes, I briefly spoke with Jon Vick from Trek, and he said the riders will be riding Trek X-Caliber 7 mountain bikes with flat pedals.
How to Watch CrossFit Cross
Not everyone can make it to Madison, although organizers do expect 60,000 attendees over the weekend, so most of the games are being live streamed on the internet. A brief overview of the coverage is available on the CrossFit Games website, and stay tuned to Cyclocross Magazine for more information on how to watch the cyclocross races.