Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cyclocross 101

The photo pretty much shows you what it's all about: uphill climbs, dismounts, carrying your bike, mud, closed course, laps, road bike look-alike, etc.  In case you haven't noticed, the sport of cyclocross has exploded lately.  What started as off-season training for European road racers is now becoming an epidemic for roadies across America from September through December.  In fact, there are some cyclists that have given up their road bike racing for cyclocross racing exclusively.

So, what's the appeal?  To's getting off the crowded streets/roads and onto a closed course with grass/sand/mud. To others it's hanging with a more fun/social crowd.  For some, it's getting down and dirty; getting a great workout in less than an hour.  And, just like it's's great off-season training for roadies.

How does it work?  Normally, races are anywhere from 30-60 minutes long.  Riders do laps, usually 2-3km per lap on a closed course, through mud/sand/grass/water/etc. over hills and obstacles.  At times, riders are required to dismount and carry their bikes over man-made or natural obstacles.  There is NO drafting because the speeds are slower than the road and the energy saving effects of drafting are negligible.  The pace is continuously full-on HARD!  I don't have any power files of Cross races but I will get some this Fall, and share with you, so you can see the power demands of the sport.  I've never raced in a Cyclocross race, nor have I watched one live for that matter, but I'm told the pace is Threshold pace the entire race.  I will be attending some Cross races this Fall either Officiating my first one, or taking photographs of my friends.

I'm not sure where the word "Cross" originated from, but if I had to guess I'd say it's because Cyclocross is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike.  From the road bike side, the cross bike takes the drop handlebars, narrow tires, lightweight frame, etc.  From the Mtn bike side, the cross bike takes the knobby tires, cantilever brakes, wide forks for mud clearance, lower gears, etc.  I suppose "Cross" could also apply to "Cross Country" riding.  Hey, maybe it's both.

Unlike Road or Mtn. bike racing, in Cross racing...racers are allowed to switch bikes when their bike becomes all gummed up with mud during a race.  They're also allowed to have a pit-crew of sorts that hoses down their bikes, performs repairs, etc. 

I'll be posting more blogs on Cross racing as the season nears.  I'll also include some photos from the races I attend.  Lastly, I'll post a calendar of nearby events so you can see one (live) for yourself. 

Power ON!  Coach Rob

1 comment:

Chris said...

Great post Rob! Hope to see you out at some races this if you're going to be there, why not throw a leg over one!! You'll be hooked, guaranteed! I don't really race much road, mostly multisport and after one try on a cross bike I've been hooked.