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There are a multitude of reasons that you should find yourself out on the Cyclocross/CX/Cross course this year. Here are five damn good reasons.
#1 The Bikes: They can do anything.
The best part about cyclocross are the bikes. Branching out into a new discipline also allows for the implementation of the famous "n+1 rule", where n is the number of bicycles currently owned. That being said, any new bike in the quiver allows us to nerd out about the technology in the new discipline (and cyclocross tech is booming!). In the past year, disc brakes have made their way on to many pros bikes and 1x11 drivetrains are king. The next reason to get a cross bike to race this fall/winter is the fact that a cyclocross bike is probably the most versatile bike you can have in your quiver. A cross bike with skinny tires is a perfect road bike and ideal for your local group ride (the fast one). Just add some bigger than average tires with knobbies and you have yourself a single track ripper! This versatility is unmatched by any other type of bike. Not to mention, CX bikes are LOUD and feature some of the BEST paint schemes around.
#2 Get Dirty: Cyclocross is controlled chaos.
Photo courtesy of John Watson - The Radavist
The next best thing besides the bikes would be the courses you race on. Cyclocross is the only cycling discipline where you can challenge yourself not only on the bike but in your transitions on and off the bike. Ever found yourself ripping through the park on the way home from a road ride? Cyclocross is an hour of zipping through the park on a closed course and on a bike made to do so! Another great part of the racing is the adaptability that it requires. A cyclocross race goes on rain, shine or snow; you better be ready for whatever mother nature is ready to throw at you. Along with the rain and the snow comes mud! Mud is an acquired taste and can be quite the challenge but it truly is what makes cyclocross, cyclocross!
#3 The Party: Any given day, you can either race or party.
As far as race atmosphere is concerned, cyclocross is where its at. On any given race day, you’ll find riders either racing or partying but the line isn’t very clear. Hand-ups are part of every race and can vary from money to donuts to a cold beer. There are definitely those who take it seriously but until you’re getting paid to be there, I’d suggest a hand-up or two. All of this being said, sometimes the party does get a little out of hand....
#4 The Fitness: CX racing requires intense physical fitness compared to the other disciplines because of its very nature: high intensity and short duration.
Cyclocross is unique when compared to road cycling and mountain biking because at most, the race lasts for an hour. Some describe it as a dirt or grass crit which can be pretty accurate. As the race progresses, racers start to spread out much more than the peleton does during a crit. The fitness required to race and win a cyclocross race is very intense and while it only lasts for an hour, it can leave you puking post-race if you indulge too frequently in the hand-up game.
Let’s face it: everyone wants to be able to share about their rides and races on the bike. Every year, starting in the summer, the #crossiscoming hashtag starts to pop up like crazy in every cyclist's social feeds. Not only is it a great way to look back at the past season's memories but it's an effective way to get hyped for what lies ahead in what many consider to be the best season of the year: cyclocross season.
Words by Thomas Keating