Cyclocross is an upcoming cycling discipline where off-road courses with tight turns, muddy slopes, steep banks, sand pits, and manmade obstacles make up the medium of the sport. Riders tuck and pedal hard on short straightaways, then skid through turns. They get on and off their bikes multiple times per lap, leaping pre-placed barriers on foot before re-mounting to pedal back into the pack.
I pedaled my maiden voyage into the sport of cyclocross on Nov. 4, racing in the "C" category at Grumpy's CX in Blaine, Minn. The race, a 30-minute-long lap event, featured mud pits, barriers to jump, and switchbacks on slick grassy side-hills. Each 2-kilometer lap was relentless, forcing riders to pedal, turn, brake, jump on and off the bike to negotiate barriers, and then pedal off again, with no downhills or long straightaways at all for a rest.
Cyclocross bikes eschew suspension, trading rigidity and bumps for a faster ride. Drop-bar handles and road-bike geometry foster further speed. Skinny tires with knobs saw at the ground for grip. I rode the Kona Jake the Snake in the Nov. 4 event.
Nationwide, hundreds of races are held each autumn in the U.S., from Oregon to Colorado to Maine. Indeed, the number of competitive cyclocross riders in the United States more than doubled in recent years, growing from about 17,000 registered racers in 2004 to nearly 40,000 last season, according to USA Cycling, the Colorado Springs, Colo., organization that sanctions competitive cycling events.
Here are a few pics from my the Grumpy's CX race earlier this month. . .