In the Nov. 30 edition of the New York Times, I write about my experience in a cyclocross race last month, where a short-looped course included obstacles, ramps, bumps, sharp turns and lots of mud. True to the game, I rode a cyclocross bike (Kona's Jake the Snake), which is a road-bike-like cycle that has drop-bar handles, skinny tires and no suspension.
About 40,000 cyclists registered to race in a cyclocross event last year, according to USA Cycling, a Colorado Springs organization that sanctions competitions. That's up from 17,000 registered racers in 2004.
Cyclocross's idiosyncrasies-from sand traps and standing water to the get-off-your-bike-and-leap barriers-necessitate technique specific to the sport.
"There's an art to popping off, shouldering your bike, then getting back on without losing speed," said Mark Mettler, a 45-year-old cyclist from Minnetonka, Minn, who raced in the event with me and about 160 other riders.
Cyclocross is a fall sport, with races starting in September and continuing every weekend past Thanksgiving. Hundreds of races are held each year nationwide, many organized into regional series, from Maine to Colorado to California. USA Cycling's season-ending Cyclocross National Championships this year are in Kansas City, Kan., Dec. 13 to 16.
Go here to see my full story in the Times:
Plus, here's the race report I wrote on the event last month, including a photo gallery: http://community.active.com/blogs/gear/2007/11/14/firsttime-cyclocross-race