Our intrepid Texan/New Englander will have less mud this season. Blake Bedoya

Our intrepid Texan/New Englander will have less mud this season. © Blake Bedoya

by Mark V.

My pitch to Cyclocross Magazine’s Online Editor Molly for this column went something like this: “Cyclocross racer from New Hampshire moves to Texas. Wacky hijinks ensue.”

Hi, I’m Mark. I just moved from New Jersey to Texas one month ago. I race cyclocross.

I’ve been racing cyclocross in the Mid-Atlantic and New England, more or less, since 2001.

For the past eight years I’ve been racing cyclocross and directing the Rutgers University (now Rutgers-Raleigh) cyclocross team in central NJ. In addition to my own racing and team responsibilities, I helped promote the UCI-sanctioned HPCX Cyclocross Race in Jamesburg, NJ, led cyclocross clinics and ran a weekly cyclocross training series at Rutgers.

In short, I’ve spent a lot of time doing a lot of cyclocross-related things in the hotbed of cyclocross that is the Northeast.

Now, I’m in Texas.

When I first announced that I was considering the move to Texas, I got some mixed reactions from friends, colleagues and family. I heard everything from “you won’t be able to eat anything!” (I’ve been vegan for about 12 years) to “It’s like Deliverance!”

Texas is subject to a lot of misunderstanding and caricature. Because of my time spent in equally misunderstood and caricatured New Jersey, I decided that I would approach my move to Texas with an open mind. This has proven to be the right choice. There is in fact a lot I can eat (in fact, a second vegetarian restaurant opened just last week here in San Antonio), and I have yet to hear any banjo playing.

What I can say is that I’ve already begun to settle into the cycling community here in San Antonio. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was on my first group road ride the second day I was in Texas. Other cyclists have been incredibly kind in telling me about group rides and good routes for training, and they’ve made sure I bring enough water and wear enough sunscreen. These are things I just don’t know and would not have thought about.

But what about the cyclocross?

Angry Mark, as he's known in New England, will be finding his spot in the Texas cyclocross scene.Blake Bedoya

Angry Mark, as he's known in New England, will be finding his spot in the Texas cyclocross scene. © Blake Bedoya

The Texas road racing calendar runs from about January to October. As a consequence, cyclocross starts later here. Where my season usually began in early September, here I won’t be racing cyclocross until October. Also, because of long road season, Texans don’t seem to be quite as cyclocross mad as folks in the Northeast are. On August 1, all the conversation on Twitter and Facebook among my friends in New England and the Mid Atlantic turned to tire selection. Here, we’re still talking about the next criterium and road race on the horizon.

It’s different here, but there’s still a lot of ’cross.  I’ve found a local shop that stocks cyclocross tubulars and knows ’cross, Bicycle Heaven, and I’m already eager for the ‘cross season to start. The Texas schedule came out this week, and I went from thinking about maybe, possibly, getting a new bike to immediately ordering my framesets.

Texas may not be cyclocross country in most racer’s minds, but I can race every weekend starting in October and all of the racing is within a four hour drive of San Antonio. Now, in the Northeast I can get from New Jersey to Northampton, Massachusetts (for the Cycle-Smart Int’l) in about four hours. In Texas, after four hours, I’m still in Texas. It’s a little different.

One of the things I love deeply about cyclocross is its regional nature. Each region’s courses, attitudes and equipment are just a little different. Even though the explosive growth of the sport has begun to homogenize some of that, ‘cross has still retained its regional flavor.

I know about Mid Atlantic cyclocross. I know about New England cyclocross. I don’t know much about Texas cyclocross. I’m excited to learn.

Stay tuned as Mark explored the strange new world of Texas cyclocross from a New Englander’s eyes. We predict that when it’s December and he hasn’t even broken out the arm-warmers, he’ll be the one laughing at us.