Cyclocross Magazine is on site in Madison, Wisconsin to bring you coverage of the cyclocross event at the 2017 CrossFit Games. To find out how our humble sport became a part of the CrossFit Games competition, I briefly spoke with CrossFit spokesman Tim Chan. In this brief interview, Chan said the 2012 and 2013 Cyclocross National Championships held in nearby Verona and the 2017 World Cup Waterloo made cyclocross synonymous with Wisconsin in the eyes of the CrossFit staff and helped influence them to include it as one of the barriers the athletes must hop over.
Cyclocross Magazine: How did you guys decide that cyclocross was going to be part of the CrossFit Games this year?
Tim Chan: When we decided to move to Madison, we wanted to also embrace the town, the culture, the city. Trek Bikes is headquartered in Wisconsin and also cyclcocross is huge out here. They’ve hosted a number of big competitions. So out of respect for the city and trying to get involved and be a good citizen, we wanted to embrace what Wisconsin and the City of Madison have to offer.
CXM: That‘s really neat. I saw you guys are doing open-water swimming in Lake Mendota as well. A lot of triathletes do open-water swimming out there.
TC: Yeah, the other thing too is CrossFit athletes are really diverse. We prepare for the unknown and the unknowable. So you’re trying for general physical preparedness. Taking something like cyclocross isn’t just saying “Here, ride a bike.” We know you can ride a bike. We know you can swim. We know you can run. We know you can do all this stuff. What happens if we throw some obstacles in there. How do you handle it?
CXM: Pretty well, I have to say. I was impressed.
TC: And that’s the thing, for a lot of these athletes it’s the first exposure they had to it.
CXM: I guess that speaks to the “ready for anything” mentality.
CXM: What kind of reception did you get? I saw the pictures from the athletes’ dinner. Have you heard any word before or now after the event?
TC: You know, they’re game for anything. It’s great. CrossFit athletes are adaptable athletes. If they’re true CrossFit Games athletes, they accept the challenge and they adapt. Whether we throw hay bales at them, or a obstacle course, or a cyclocross course, they accept the challenge and they go with it.
CXM: What are you expecting tomorrow for the races? Have you thought about that?
TC: I watched the time trials, but I don’t know where the rankings are. I don’t think you can just go by what you saw today. I think there are some dark horses and people who you don’t expect to come out of the woodwork during the real thing.
CXM: Did you work with Trek at all to bring cyclocross to the Games?
TC: Trek helped out a lot. They provided the bikes. We also purchased a number of bikes for our HQ employees to ride around Madison for the week. I think it’s going to give cyclocross exposure because the viewership of the CrossFit Games is pretty big. We have partnerships with CBS Sports and Facebook, so it will be interesting to see if CrossFit has an impact on cyclocross.
CXM: So one last thing, our sport has a thing called heckling, and the positivity here was really impressive. That seems like a really cool part of CrossFit.
TC: Yeah, heckling isn’t really something we do. We support each other. In fact, the one thing you’ll notice is CrossFit athletes support each other. The person who comes in last sometimes gets the greatest applause because people all know what it’s like to be out there. I think CrossFitters are big enough to build each other up, and it doesn’t help to tear anyone down. We live in a world where people are tearing people apart anyways. That’s, I think, a strength of the CrossFit community. The positivity, the support. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you go to the CrossFit gym and you’re working out and putting in the effort, people are there to applaud you, support you, coach you, give you information.
“Yeah, heckling isn’t really something we do. We support each other…I think CrossFitters are big enough to build each other up, and it doesn’t help to tear anyone down. We live in a world where people are tearing people apart anyways.” -Tim Chen
CXM: Thanks for having us out here. I am stoked to watch tomorrow.
TC: I’m excited to have you here. I’m glad you guys are here.
Cyclocross Magazine will be back at Quann Park in Madison on Thursday for the cyclocross finals at the CrossFit Games. Stay tuned for more coverage at cxmagazine.com and follow us on Twitter at @cyclocross and Instagram at cxmagazine for more coverage from the races.